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Declassified MISC 25


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Starting DM 25...........





Mt. Hood body identified as Kelly James



Former spy chief takes over Pentagon



2 Mount Hood climbers may have fallen



Bush signs nuclear deal with India



Gates: Iraq failure would be 'calamity'



The ‘cult’ of The Hip: the music, the community, the integration



Lawsuits Are Targeting Target, Claiming Copyright Infringment



ProHipHop, Hip Hop Press Holiday Schedule



Don’t Die Ding



A Skin Cell Like No Other



Google Phone



NASA to reveal Space Act Agreement with Google



Link Building discussed - Googler and WMW users




TrailFire's Annotations Anywhere + Distribution Through Organic SERPs




NewsGator and Edelman Build Hosted Conversations




Welcome New Contributor Jordan McCollum



Cyber Monday: publicity stunt come true?



The Internet is the first choice for purchasing decisions



iPod Winner Announced



Technology - Does It Make Managers Lazy?



Spry 1.4 Released!



Off Site Data Storage



Handling Missing Data



Fair Treatment Is Good Business



EShopping Index Shows Growth All Around



Cloaking Is Bad... Unless It's Good



Google/NASA Enter Space Pact



Open Directory Toasted Without Backups



U.S. Newspapers Take A Backseat To The Internet



Areae Aims to Merge MMOG & Web 2.0




I Spent Sunday Evening Playing kdice



Digg Breaks Away From All News Focus



links for 2006-12-18



Edelman, Newsgator to Create Branded Communities, Conversational Advertising



Canadians, British Read Blogs More Than Americans Do



Blog Tag: Five Things You Didn't Know About Me



Google in talks for branded phone, newspaper reports



Anthony banned 15 games

Six others suspended in wake of Nuggets-Knicks fight




Cingular makes deal with MySpace




Migrant boat capsized twice; at least 80 die



Las Vegas cracks down on the homeless



Christian CEO brings faith into workplace



Dude looks like a lady

Asian Games track silver medalist fails gender test



Commentary: Putting a sinister spin on immigration crackdown



Debutante's killer curses, flips off judge at sentencing



N.K. reads laundry list of demands



Spokeswoman: Johnson shows signs of recovery



Norovirus cited in Olive Garden outbreak



Carbon monoxide detected at duplex where 7 died



Man held over 5 prostitute deaths



Fourth spacewalk under way



Adventurer died 'doing what he loved'



Holiday Tipping Etiquette Guide




Tricky scams to avoid this holiday

During this time of the year, beware of thieves who want to steal your holiday money.



6 strategies to survive the real estate bust

Last year the question was whether the housing boom would slow down. Now it's how bad it will get. Fortune's Ellen Florian Kratz helps you navigate the market.




After the buyout boom: The bust?

A string of deals led by private equity firms will push buyouts to record levels this year. But if things turn sour, look out.




Anthony banned 15 games

Six others suspended in wake of Nuggets-Knicks fight



Foundations combat illiteracy in developing world



Mailboxes, inboxes burst with college brochures



'Unpolished' Galveston hoping to brighten tourist image



Okanagan Valley: Fine wines in British Columbia



Pandemic preparations vary widely by state



Equator's glaciers slipping away



Prosecutor: Undercover cop begged for his life



Suspect unfit for trial in Elizabeth Smart case


































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Laura Bush had skin cancer tumor removed



Trump to announce fate of Miss USA



Trump lets Miss USA keep her title



GTA Warehouse Forums



Second Briton arrested in prostitute murder case



Search area narrows for climbers



Wholesale prices surge; Housing rebounds



U.S. wants prominent warnings on pain relievers



Americans Media Consumption To Increase



Top 10 News Searches: Another Year In Paris



The Evolution Of Metrics & Analytics



Taco Bell Turns To PPC



Tis The Season To Give Up & Buy A Gift Card



Polar Rose: Europe’s Entrant Into Facial Recognition




First Big Partner for Zudeo: BBC




Snap Image Search





NetSuite’s Going Public, Looking for $1 Billion Valuation





BubbleShare, Counting Unhatched Chickens




Blog Tag: Five Things You Didn't Know About Me



links for 2006-12-19



Sudoku, Royal Solitaire Released for the iPod



Go Elf Yourself



It's Time for Traffic Stats to Die



Security researchers to target Apple in January



Earnings alert: Palm profit down as Treo delay crimps sales



Podcast: Looking back at 2006, ahead to 2007



Dell CFO retiring amid SEC investigation



Two in three retail PCs are notebooks



Moving to a new host/server



A Quick Lesson In Customer Service Courtesy Of Home Depot



Trailers: Common & Alicia Keys In Smokin' Aces



Photos: Common & Alicia Keys In Smokin' Aces



Pay Per Post now requires disclosure on blogs



Controlling the Conversation - SEO Beyond Links



More eBay trouble?






Another Y! Departure



Taking Miller Time - Are You Having A Holiday?



How To Integrate AWeber With Paypal, Clickbank, 1Shoppingcart & More



Get Your Free DVD From Russell Brunson - Dot Com Secrets



'Community' Service Controls Conversation



Space Google's Next Frontier



PixsyPower: a Google Co-op for Photo and Video Search



Sellout Bloggers Sorta Fess Up



Nokia To Have Brand New Year



Google AdSense Bans Images Next to Ads



How to Own an SEO Firm



Getting Up Early to Game Digg



Safe search is ON



Pilgrim Partners Shout-out



More Open Source Funding - What Does It Mean?



Stock Image Licensing Guide



Asset Allocation And Your Investment Plan



Where Is HDS In The CAS Space?



Session Metrics W/ Application.cfc



SEO - Does It Wreck The Customer Experience?, by Kimberly KB



Lame - The PPC And SEO Debate




Get Your Brand Past The "Did You Mean" In Search




Yahoo! Loses Anti-Spam Leader To Startup



Digg Could Be New Google...Suggested Improvements




Links And Google Can Coexist **********



Open Directory Toasted Without Backups




Opera Hooks Phishers With Latest Browser




Google Gets Playful



Annan: Iran intervention would be unwise



Cheney to be defense witness in CIA case



Iraq troop buildup idea worries generals



Bad Santa! Biker charged with kidnapping girl



Defense: Parents of caged kids tried their best



Senator questions judge's role in lesbian wedding



Stallone still packs a punch with Rocky diehards



Software will make finding Web photos easier



U.S., North Korea meet one-on-one



Libya to execute HIV medics



Carbon monoxide blamed for 7 duplex deaths



Witness: New Orleans cops shot man in back as he ran away



New storm approaching, 2 climbers still missing



Have you climbed Mount Hood?



Is sugar production modern day slavery?



Reporter's notebook: Behind the sugar story



Living off rats to survive in Zimbabwe



Reality check: 95 percent of Americans had premarital sex



Biologists in pursuit of exotic, voracious foe



Wall Street bonuses bubble into the billions



Florida professor admits he was Cuban spy



Sheriff fearful searchers may be 'spinning wheels'



8 Smart moves to make by year end

These strategies will cut your taxes and prep you for the new year. But you have to act by Dec. 31.



6 strategies to survive the real estate bust

Last year the question was whether the housing boom would slow down. Now it's how bad it will get. Fortune's Ellen Florian Kratz helps you navigate the market.



Syria in Bush's Crosshairs

Exclusive: A classified document suggests the Administration is considering a plan to fund political opposition to the Damascus government. Some critics say it would be an unwarranted covert action



A Setback for Ahmadinejad

The rejection of his candidates in municipal elections highlights the domestic weaknesses of Iran's fiery president



10 housing markets ready for a fall

36 of the 100 biggest markets are expected to see price declines. Here are the markets with the worst prospects in 2007.



Early retirement: The magic number

With no company match or pension, this reader wants to know how much more she should save to retire in 5 years.



Hotel rewards clubs get personal



See the stars the day you were born



School board abandons evolution sticker case



Discovery departs space station



Seasonal hangovers: Tricks to help you power through



Bush plans to increase size of military



































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Search for 2 Ore. climbers on standby






Jeep-Trails Portal



Third stargate series in development



Invision Power Board riped off...



IPS - Reporting Piracy










RED ALERT!! RED ALERT!! The Gen0ciD Forum is PIRATED!!

RED ALERT!! RED ALERT!! The Gen0ciD Forum is PIRATED!!

RED ALERT!! RED ALERT!! The Gen0ciD Forum is PIRATED!!

RED ALERT!! RED ALERT!! The Gen0ciD Forum is PIRATED!!

RED ALERT!! RED ALERT!! The Gen0ciD Forum is PIRATED!!

RED ALERT!! RED ALERT!! The Gen0ciD Forum is PIRATED!!





Common On Gap Ad Lyrics, Dave Champipple, Seeing Peace In The Hood




Photos: Common & Alicia Keys In Smokin' Aces




TopRank Moves to the Lake




TIME for an Update





Buy Google's Airtime (If You Can)





No Images Next To Adsense Ads




Not Allowed to even hyperlink to a mp3




Company Acquired For 1.65 Billion Dollars Continues To Ignore Racism



'Windows Live' Search Is Dying




Welcome Jeremy Luebke and Scott Woodard!




PayPal Has No Answer to Google Checkout



Ask.com Testing New Interface at Ask X












Arbitrage Defined


Arbitrage is a hot topic these days. American Heritage Dictionary defines arbitrage as “The purchase of securities on one market for immediate resale on another market in order to profit from a price discrepancy.”


A YouTube video titled Adwords Abuse which was uploaded back in April has begun re-circulating. The video highlights some of the issues surrounding arbitrage but it only discusses one form of the problem. Arbitrage is not a one size fits all practice.


So let’s look at the different types of arbitrage.



PPC / Adsense Arbitrage 1.0


A website or web page which contains no content. The page is filled with PPC ads such as Adsense or Yahoo Search Partner Ads. This is the most blatant form of Arbitrage and the one the majority of people are talking about.




Arbitrage 2.0


A web page that contains some form of content but who’s true purpose is to generate clicks on the ads within the page. These ads are mostly Adsense with some YPN Ads mixed in. They are Made For Adsense (MFA) sites relying on PPC traffic instead of organic.






Shopping Engine Arbitrage


A web page that lists product prices enabling customers to see the same product priced at multiple stores. They then send the consumer to the merchant’s product pages via PPC links or affiliate links.





Affiliate Arbitrage


Affiliate marketing is a form of CPA arbitrage. The landing page for the affiliate marketer is designed to cause some form of action which the marketer get’s paid for whether it happens directly on the landing page or happens when the consumer clicks through to the merchants website.





User Experience

So what does all this mean? Arbitrage isn’t going anywhere. It has always existed and it always will in some form or another. That said, Google, Yahoo & MSN need to get a handle on the situation and enforce the rules they have already set out. All three are explicit that landing pages should contain relevant and meaningful content.


It’s up for debate how shopping, affiliate, and version 2.0 arbitrage fall within these guidelines. How on the other hand they have not already started banning arbitrage 1.0 sites just blows my mind. I get the feeling they are afraid to lose the revenue. What they fail to realize is the work around has already been invented. As soon as all the arbitrage 1.0 sites are banned, arbitrage 2.0 sites will just pop up in their place. If any money is lost, it will only be for the short term.


So what then is accomplished? A better user experience. While MFA sites appearing in the sponsored results may not be the perfect solution, it is still 10 times better than then arbitrage 1.0 junk that is appearing now.











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Designing Effective PPC Campaign Strategies and Tactics



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Small Firms Turn to Local Advertising Solutions



Marketing Holding Companies Suck?



Yahoo Tests Branding Tools for Search Marketers



Compact An Access Database From .NET



CRM Software That Works The Way You Do



Maintenance Tools For Mac OS X



IT And Help Desk Customer Satisfaction Surveys Drive Performance



Google Says It Wins With Video Ads



YouTube Offers Olive Branch To Japan



Novell Banks On New Microsoft Customers



Are Year-End Search Lists Meaningless?



Google's Real Search Share 70 Percent?



Amazon To Launch DRM-Free Music Store?



Scoop: TicketMaster Pours $13.3 Million Into iLike



Pandora Goes Social



Zoho Gets All Wiki



Yahoo Upgrades Personals - Does This Stuff Work?



Why I Am Breaking Up With Netflix



links for 2006-12-20



Gains and gripes with Google



Google throttles one search API, many wonder why



Mozilla issues security updates



Zoho adds wiki to Web apps lineup



Year In Review 2006



Mt. Hood rescuers lose hope for climbers



AP: Pentagon wants $99.7B more for wars



U.S. commanders wary of Gates proposal



Nazarenes live and act as Jesus did



To-do list: Call mom; chase snowstorm



Blizzard closes airport, sends cars into ditches





Miller Lite's man of many lights moves his party



Goldman suit: Simpson got $1M in book deal



Poll: Stress knows few boundaries



Lawmaker won't apologize for 'Islamophobic' letter



Attorney argues FCC rules on profanity unfair



Pentagon wants about $100 billion more for wars



Bush: More troops needed for 'long struggle'



Mount Hood searchers give up



Blair urges tougher action on Iran



Shedding pounds, man gains badge, wife



Infant goes through airport X-ray machine




EBay on China: Can't beat 'em, join 'em



Web changing art world *******************



California's top court to review gay marriage ban



Report says Berger hid archive documents



Blair urges tougher action on Iran



Nomads lost all to severe drought, then floods



Al Qaeda's No. 2 opposes Palestinian elections



Rap lyrics bring poetic justice, prosecutors say



Indictment: Kingpin ordered cops beheaded



Lawmaker doesn't sway FCC cable-competition vote



Ex-Virginia governor to explore White House bid




Shedding pounds, man gains badge, wife



Sheriff: Search for climbers now recovery effort



Nomads lost all to severe drought, then floods



Al Qaeda's No. 2 opposes Palestinian elections



Teaching an old series new tricks



EBay on China: Can't beat 'em, join 'em



Web changing art world



Subpoena challenged in CIA leak case



Indictment: Kingpin ordered cops beheaded



Lawmaker doesn't sway FCC cable-competition vote



Ex-Virginia governor to explore White House bid



Lara Flynn Boyle ties the knot



Hawaii trying to educate tourists about smoking ban



Biologists in pursuit of exotic, voracious foe



NASA watching weather as shuttle landing nears



California city's schools extend break for immigrants



School board abandons evolution sticker case



Travelers share tips, trade stories online



Syria in Bush's Cross Hairs

Exclusive: A classified document suggests the Administration is considering a plan to fund political opposition to the Damascus government. Some critics say it would be an unwarranted covert action




Would a Troop Surge in Iraq Work?

In some Baghdad neighborhoods, more U.S. soldiers have helped bring down violence. In other troubled regions like Anbar Province, they may exacerbate it




Best of the best and worst of the worst

What is the safest American city? The smartest? The fastest growing? Ten examples of America's superlative cities.



15 surprises ahead in 2007

Business 2.0's Chris Taylor highlights the most significant innovations, events and launches that are planned for the New Year.




5 gifts that will make your kids rich

Ways to present fiscal lessons without looking like the Grinch.



7 amazing travel secrets - revealed!

Money Magazine writer and travel expert Donna Rosato lets novices in on what the pros already know – flying in style is easier than you think.




Pacific Northwest readies for another major storm








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Final 'Harry Potter' title announced



N.J. gov. signs gay civil unions law



Airport, roads, mail halted in snow-bound Colorado




Del.icio.us Widget Released





I Wish Google Could Buy AllofMP3




TechCrunch Readers Are Shallow




New Blogger Out of Beta




Crazy 3D Avatars From Gizmoz





WSJ Bodyslams Bloggers




The Blog Mob

"Written by fools to be read by imbeciles."




A Year Later, Google Talk and AIM Still Don't Interoperate





links for 2006-12-21





Edelman StoryCrafter Video Demo




Something you won't see at CES

Toshiba is coming out with the 55-inch surface conduction electron-emitter display (SED) TV in late 2007.








AMD's new 65-nanometer chips sip energy but trail Intel






Mobile gamer Glu readies for $92 million IPO






Security Bites Podcast: What's coming in 2007?





Business booming for former Rocketboom host



HSBC Puts Subcultures in a Tank for Local Critique



Pre Holiday Search Blogs Roundup



Friday Flickr Fix – 12.22.06 – Free Smells



Smirnoff Mistletoe/Swamp Thing Creature Nailed on Camera



AdPulp Up To The Scooter Challenge



New Look Ask - askx.com




Robert Scoble: Aaron Wall is 'gaming the search engines' and that's bad.



And then there were two - Viacom backs out



Did-it.com Creating PPC Addicts



France And Germany To Kill Google Individually



How 'They' Will Rule Advertising



P2P to Rule Online Video



Google Shutting Out Tool Developers with API Removal



Google “Tip” at Top of Search Results



Marketing Pilgrim Goes Mobile



Voting Begins for 2006 Search Blogs Awards



Don’t Miss Thursday’s Hottest Internet Marketing News



The Oddness (and Evenness) Of Spry 1.4



Detailed Ask X Review



Danny Said It Too!



Google's More Tab Expands With Patents And Blogs



Odden On The Hypocrisy Of Digg And Spam






Things To Keep In Mind When Changing A Site Design







Google Says It Wins With Video Ads



Google's Real Search Share 70 Percent?



Delicious Sings The Badges Song



Spock Mind Melds With $7 Million



Escaping Google's Supplemental Dead Zone




Canadian E-Commerce To Increase




A Fight About PPC And SEO




Eight Internet Losers In 2006



British charge man in prostitute murders



Senator recovering from brain surgery



Commentary: Racism in Texas more than skin deep



The Face Of Haditha

Frank Wuterich led the Marines accused of the massacre in Iraq. He talks here for the first time



8 Marines face charges in Haditha killings



Name of final Harry Potter book announced



Officials fine with menorah, balk on birth of Jesus



Bush pardons 16, commutes sentence in drug case



Americans spend every cent - and more

Critics say America's negative savings rate can't be sustained and see a recession coming. Are they right?



Man charged in prostitute killings



Unrelenting rain soaks New Orleans



Blizzard victims stalled for another night



Police want bullet in teen's forehead



15 surprises ahead in 2007

Business 2.0's Chris Taylor highlights the most significant innovations, events and launches that are planned for the New Year.



Best of the best and worst of the worst

What is the safest American city? The smartest? The fastest growing? Ten examples of America's superlative cities.




Would a Troop Surge in Iraq Work?

In some Baghdad neighborhoods, more U.S. soldiers have helped bring down violence. In other troubled regions like Anbar Province, they may exacerbate it




The Year That Religion Learned Humility

The new millennium saw the rise of fundamentalist faith as a cultural force. In 2006, says Andrew Sullivan, the religious monoliths began to break down




10 best places to own real estate

Even in a tough market, 63 of the 100 biggest markets are due to see a rise in 2007.




Harvard endowment compensation declines



Report: School aid not distributed evenly



Life-extending compound may be great news -- for mice



The nut immortalized in holiday song makes for great eating, too



Balmy winter puts chill on bird migration



NASA debates shuttle landing sites



Officials fine with menorah, balk on birth of Jesus



Rap lyrics bring poetic justice, prosecutors say



Defense: Mom threw boys in bay, wrote to God



Catholic cardinal tries his hand at podcasting



International airline to allow cell phone chatter on planes



Simpson asks out of tribute due to botched song



Magician, star, 'America's First Superhero'



Rice: U.S. supports sanctions for Iran's 'defiance'



Holocaust denier: 'No need to show remorse'




Carnage as Somalia 'in state of war'




Freedom Tower's wrong-way flag removed











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The Lonely Heart's Guide to the Holidays



Rice: U.S. ready for black president



Travelers still stranded in Denver



Parents in caged children case convicted



No typing not a problem for "The Hammer" blogger



Astronauts close space shuttle's doors for landing



Denver airport operations to open slowly



Rape charges dropped in Duke case



Voting Begins for 2006 Search Blogs Awards



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The Marketing Pilgrim Comment Clinic



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Merry Christmas!



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Robo-selling Doesn't Create A Customer Relationship






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Forbes Assaults Blogosphere


Attack of the Blogs





If You Link, You Face The Clink





YouTube: Taking A Bite Out Of Crime?




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Microsoft Seeks Content Syndication Patents




Monster Heating Up Job Boards Battle




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links for 2006-12-21



Edelman StoryCrafter Video Demo



links for 2006-12-22



America's New Digital Divide



Microsoft extends Xbox 360 warranty to 1 year







Politics and censorship in America


Redacted Version of Original Op-Ed





BT deal hits billion-dollar outsourcing mark





A tiny corner of the blog boom




On holiday overload? Net diversions await




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AdPulp Up To The Scooter Challenge




Better Living Through Brewing Chemistry




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Make Your Own SEO Deck



Will Pricey Print Directories Perish?



Good Blogs Trump Bad



NY comptroller resigns after pleading guilty to felony



NASA unsure where shuttle will land



Denver airport reopens after blizzard



Case not dismissed

Duke lacrosse players still face some serious charges




Duke rape charges dropped

Lacrosse players face kidnap, sexual offense charges



A Christmas tradition, Bush visits wounded vets



NASA skips first chance to land shuttle



Long lines, short tempers as weather disrupts flights



Triplets for woman with two wombs



Exxon Valdez spill damages slashed

Oil company must now pay $2.5 billion in punitive damages, down from $4.5 billion previously awarded.



Brazil extradites suspected mobster to U.S.



Italy outlaws ultra-skinny models



Last chance to grab hot holiday deals

Retailers are bringing back 'doorbusters' in the final shopping weekend before Christmas. But are the 'hot items all sold out?



Official: Agency testing machine, but draft not imminent



'Good Will Hunting' director arrested



Review: 'Night at the Museum,' two hours in hell



Cuddly seals honored in robotics prize



Flu virus 'could kill 81 million'



Abortion provider faces criminal charges, attorney says



Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain



Researchers catch giant squid



Ellison: Lawmaker has 'a lot to learn about Islam'



Harvard endowment compensation declines



Airfares heading skyward



Third day of air travel chaos in UK



5 gifts that will make your kids rich

Ways to present fiscal lessons without looking like the Grinch



Holiday gift returns: Still nothing easy about it

Best Buy, Circuit City will charge restocking fees; No returns at Target without a receipt; Plus: Tips for happy returns.



The Haditha Charges: Symbol of a War Gone Bad

Four Marines are charged with murdering Iraqi civilians. Even if justice is seen to be done, the result is unlikely to reverse the damage



An IPO Wish List for 2007

In case you haven't noticed, the IPO market is back. With 2006 deals totaling $44.6 billion, the second-biggest year since the dot-com bust, we asked experts which companies they'd love to see go public in the new year.




Shuttle lands at Kennedy Space Center



Denver airport reopens; the mess lingers


DENVER - Denver's snowed-in airport reopened Friday for the first time in two days, but the backlog of flights around the country could take all weekend to clear, and many of the nearly 5,000 holiday travelers stranded here might not make it home for Christmas.



As planes began taking off again, passengers with long-standing reservations filled most of the outbound flights. That was bad news for those waiting to rebook flights canceled during the storm.


"Unfortunately, this comes down to basic math," said airport spokesman Chuck Cannon. "You've got thousands of people standing in lines and the airlines do not have thousands of seats."


The departure of a Frontier Airlines flight for Atlanta a few minutes after noon was greeted glumly by Chistina Kuroiwa, a Fort Collins, Colo., woman who had been trying to get to San Jose, Calif.


"Well, I guess that's good for them, but it really doesn't help me," said Kuroiwa, who had actually gotten on a plane Wednesday, only to sit stuck in the snow on the runway for 8 1/2 hours.


The jam in Denver backed up flights around the country heading into the one of the busiest travel times of the year, with 9 million Americans planning to take to the skies during the nine-day Christmas-to-New Year's period. More than 3,000 incoming flights alone were canceled or diverted from Denver during the 45-hour shutdown.


There also were delays in Atlanta because of low visibility, and in Philadelphia because of wind.


An estimated 64.9 million people will travel more than 50 miles from home by air, rail and road during the holidays, according to the AAA.


Denver International, the nation's fifth-busiest airport, closed to all flights Wednesday when a blizzard buried the city in 2 feet of snow, closing schools, offices and stores at the very height of the Christmas rush and stopping the mail, too.


An estimated 4,700 travelers camped out at the airport Wednesday night, and close to 2,000 spent a second night on the hard floors and a few cots, hoping to get a place at the front of long lines at ticket counters Friday morning.


Christmas 2006 will provide travel nightmare stories for years to come.


Albuquerque, N.M., resident Alan Kuhn met another stranded passenger, Denise Brien, in Denver and they organized a group to rent a van to run back and forth to downtown hotels. On Friday, they decided they were standing in their last line.


"Yesterday, I couldn't get Frontier, I couldn't get on the Web site and I couldn't get them on the phone," Kuhn said. "And that's when we said, `If we can't get a flight today, we're going to drive.' The roads are open, the sun is out."


The delays at Denver had a ripple effect across the country.


At Chicago's O'Hare Airport, more than 100 flights were canceled by midmorning Friday. Passengers were told to expect arrival and departure delays averaging an hour.


At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, twin brothers Leonardo and Limcoln Filogonio, 20, of Brazil, were turned away from a Delta flight to Denver on Thursday night and had little hope of getting back on schedule.


"We're going back every two hours to check and they're telling us that our flight is delayed over and over," Leonardo said.


In Denver, flights started from two of the airport's six runways, and two more runways were expected to be cleared of snow by 6 p.m. United, the biggest airline in Denver, said it expected to resume one-third of its schedule Friday and the full schedule Saturday.


Airline officials tried to explain to unhappy travelers at the airport that they cannot simply bring in extra planes to clear the backlog.


"When we get an airplane, we run it 10 hours a day every day," said Frontier spokesman Joe Hodas. "It's not like we can decide Dayton's not important and just pull some planes from there."


Todd Garber, a law student at UCLA, fumed at Los Angeles International Airport after his flight to St. Louis was canceled because it had a stop in Denver. "Next time I'm going to go through Phoenix," he grumbled.







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Bush urges prayers, gifts for Iraq GIs



Security Council approves Iran sanctions





MyBlogLog Craze Is Taking Over The Blogosphere






Somebody Needs To Stop This



Monster story: squid vid



No antivirus updates today for ZoneAlarm customers



Online crime goes 9 to 5



News Corp., Liberty Media reach deal



Cafepress.com's Web site knocked offline



Monster Heating Up Job Boards Battle




Microsoft Seeks Content Syndication Patents



Amazon Launches New Q&A Service



Google To Stay Single In China



Why Doesn’t CafePress Use Flash?





Will Lickety Ship End Differently Than Kozmo?



Women. Clothes. Style. Ugh.




A Podcast Chat with For Immediate Release



links for 2006-12-23



Google Blog Search Indexes Digg and Techmeme



Google News Mobile Gets Personal



Watch Web Vids on Your HDTV



Caption It #22




Happy Holidays



Yet More Yahoo! Yo-yoing



Found this on Digg - No Up Time Webhost - Happy Bollocks Friday!



Wikipedia vs Trump



Yahoo - We Support API's





AllofMP3.com sued by the RIAA for 1.65 Trillion


AllofMp3.com Sued for $1.65 Trillion!



CyberNet: keeping You Plugged In!



CyberNet Forums




Competition for TV Increases Options



Employee Motivation: Key To Company Success



Robo-selling Doesn't Create A Customer Relationship



Microsoft Academy Marketing Or Technical Program?



Google Maps - Multiple Destinations



Google Bug Tracker - Unofficial



Small Business PR



Small Business SEM

Because not everyone can throw thousands of dollars at the ‘How do we market ourselves online?’ question…









The SBS Interview: Lee Odden


Like water and oil, “small business” and “public relations” don’t mix very well, and don’t mix very often. In the rare occasions that I’ve worked with a small business owner who wanted to try public relations, the client’s idea of PR involved sending out a press release and crossing his/her fingers, hoping for the best. Needless to say, that’s not an effective marketing strategy.


And today, with public relations morphing into a new mix of traditional tactics combined with new opportunities such as blogging and social networks/social media, the small business owner has even more choices and more to learn in order to use these as effective marketing tools. Where should a small business start? How can a small business take advantage of these opportunities, especially if money is an issue (as it often is with small companies)?


Lee OddenFor thoughts on those questions and more, I recently chatted via e-mail with Lee Odden, who’s the co-founder of Misukanis Odden Public Relations and CEO of TopRank Online Marketing. You’ve probably read Lee’s thoughts and ideas at TopRankBlog.com.


He’s a sought after speaker on public relations and social media marketing, and in this interview he shares some terrific advice for small businesses who are looking to do more in these evolving areas.


MATT: In almost 10 years of working with small businesses, I can count on two hands the number of clients who came in already aware of public relations as a marketing tool. How does that compare to your experience with small- and medium-sized businesses?


LEE: I would tend to agree. In my experience, many small businesses are not exposed to things like public relations unless the founders or partners were previously with larger companies that were in the practice of engaging PR firms. In the past year I have noticed more small businesses using press releases as promotion tools. Although, the distribution of a press release by itself is not something I would consider public relations.


Why do you think there’s such little awareness of the need for this kind of marketing?


Maybe it’s because there are not enough resources for low cost public relations tactics? Education is also an issue. Many business owners do not understand exactly what public relations is. For many, it is a luxury service afforded to larger companies that can allocate significant funds to “branding” and media relations with nebulous measurement of success. However, public relations can be, and should be, very measurable and cost effective. Especially the kinds of tactics that leverage PR along with technology, social media and SEO. There is a significant opportunity for small businesses to engage in this kind of online PR. PR offers many other benefits such as building employee morale and boosting client confidence in your company.


I have a feeling a lot of people hear the term “public relations” and think “press releases,” so let’s talk about that first. Are press releases a viable marketing tool these days?


Traditionally, press releases have been a format for announcing news about a company to the media. The media would then (hopefully) take notice and report on that news. However, with internet distribution channels, press releases are reaching consumers in huge numbers. In fact, half of all internet users visited news web sites in June of this year. The vast majority of content that populates news web sites like Yahoo News and Google News are press releases.


When used properly, press releases can be very effective for communications with the media as well as direct to consumer communications. Press release distribution alone is rarely effective and that’s where many small businesses stop. Researching relevant publications, editors and writers/journalists and developing your own target media list is very important as is reaching out to that list whenever your company has news.


What advice would you give to a business owner who’s planning to reach out like that to the local business writer/editor?


Research the publications that you want to be in and find out which journalists and writers are covering topics related to your industry. Find their contact info and contact them when you have news. Some publications will make available their editorial calendar online. Check that to see if there are any planned stories that would be a good fit for your company and contact the assigned journalist with a unique angle.


Are press releases better for traditional publicity purposes or for SEO purposes — or can the same release do both? How?


The same release can be used as an introduction to a publicity opportunity, but there is no substitute for human contact. Press release distribution alone rarely achieves media coverage. Contacting the media with a reference to a press release and unique story ideas can improve your chances of media coverage significantly. While a large percentage of journalists research press releases online, many continue to rely on press releases via email as a method of getting new story ideas.


A press release can achieve results both from a media communications standpoint and as a SEO tool if planned out, written, optimized and executed properly. There is a true art to writing an optimized press release that is compelling to both search engines and people. When an optimized press release gets picked up by blogs and online news web sites, the embedded links can be very valuable for driving traffic and building link popularity. For example, an optimized release we sent out for a new software client achieved over 600 permanent, one-way links from blogs, web sites and industry publications.


What are the best distribution channels? Are the online channels the way to go, or do you recommend something like buying a list of journalists’ email addresses?


Wire services like PRWeb.com, BusinessWire, PR Newswire and MarketWire are a popular distribution channel for many companies because the releases are distributed via email to matching interest profiles as well as via feed to syndication partners and news search engines. However, a service like Bacon’s, which provides access to editorial calendars for publications as well as updated journalist contact information, can prove very valuable if a company is engaged in a significant amount of public relations activity.


Services like Bacon’s are almost always cost prohibitive for most small and medium sized businesses. Part of the reason these businesses hire public relations firms is because they have access to services like Bacons as well as a cultivated Rolodex of industry media contacts. It takes a long time to build trust in the PR and media relations industry. I would not recommend buying lists of journalists’ email addresses as many such lists are not well maintained. There’s been a lot of attrition in the news and media industry in the past few years due to mergers, acquisitions and downsizing. A service like Bacon’s will offer more up to date and reliable information.


I would also note that with the popularity of blogs, there has evolved an entirely new opportunity for online exposure through blogger relations. Many PR firms are struggling to develop these skill sets and some, like Misukanis & Odden, have embraced blogger relations, new media and social media early on. Small and medium businesses that have a blog can leverage an advantage over their larger counterparts who do not have a blog by creating relationships with prominent bloggers in their industry. If a prominent blogger writes about your business and sends you 2,000 new visitors, it is no different than a mainstream publication sending you 2,000 new visitors, except that many blog readers are also bloggers themselves. This can create a trickle down effect for news distribution.


You pretty well answered one of my upcoming questions, which was about non-traditional PR methods such as blogs — and I agree with you 100% that this is an area where small businesses can fare better than Big Brands that are really struggling with the whole concept of blogging and social media. But let me move on to a couple other questions we haven’t covered yet….


What kind of common mistakes do you see businesses making with their PR and press release marketing?


I’ll give you five.


1. Treating PR as a “one off” tactic and not using it strategically alongside other marketing efforts

2. Only using “free” news release services - the distribution is not as good

3. Not hiring a professional to write press releases. At least the first few. Subject matter experts may know the facts and marketing may know the message, but a PR writer can tie it all together

4. Sending out press releases and not contacting journalists that write for relevant publications with personal emails containing story ideas.

5. Not setting realistic expectations or measuring results


Is PR something a small business owner can do on his/her own? How do you know when it’s time to bring in a professional?


Like any marketing activity, time and expertise are not commodities. In very few cases would I recommend a small business owner try public relations on their own, unless they have previous experience from the corporate world. There are plenty of independent PR consultants that can help small businesses get a jumpstart on a PR program.


That does not mean small businesses should be totally reliant on outside consultants. There are plenty of things companies can do to have a positive effect on their reputation with the media. For example, if the business can allocate time to it, they can start immediately by researching publications and creating a list of writers that they want to connect with. When there is an event or special news about the company, they can personally contact the journalist to let them know.


Ideally, it is a good idea to bring in a PR professional to help establish a strategy and then bring them on for assistance on an as-needed basis. The effect of a good PR program should easily justify allocating more time/resources to further PR efforts.


Let’s say I’m a small business owner on a tight budget. You and I end up sitting next to each other on a cross-country flight, and we start talking business and marketing. My company is getting ready to launch a new product or service and we want to get the word out to as many potential customers as possible. I’ll give you some budget numbers, and you tell me how I can get the best bang for my buck.




Short consultation and help with creating an optimized press release. Point the business in the direction of do-it-yourself release distribution (extra fees to the wire service for that).




Short consultation, an optimized press release and basic distribution via a wire service like PRWeb.com. Basic press release reporting: impressions, media reads.




Consulting time, press release and distribution. Research publications for the client to contact and pitch on their own. Basic press release reporting: impressions, media reads.




Consulting time, press release, distribution, research editorial calendars, pitching, basic tips on media communications and coordinating interviews within a 30 day window. Guidance on creating an online media room/press room on the client website. Press release reporting and monitoring of pickups.


Thanks for your time, Lee!


Further Reading: For more information about public relations and social marketing, read these articles on Lee Odden’s Online Marketing Blog:


Social Media Release Optimization

Lowdown on Press Release Optimization


Lee Odden is CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and co-founder of Misukanis Odden Public Relations. Lee has been cited as an SEO expert by The Economist and U.S. News and speaks on the topics of SEO, Social Media and Online Public Relations at Search Engine Strategies, Pubcon and DMA conferences. He also likes to ramble on about these topics at MarketingBlog.com.














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2nd reply for Dec 23 2006 (1st reply for today is directly above).


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Tiger mauls zoo trainer


A 350-pound Siberian tiger attacked and injured its trainer shortly after a public feeding Friday at the San Francisco Zoo.


The unidentified woman may lose an arm as a result of her injuries, and was in surgery Friday at San Francisco General Hospital with injuries to both arms, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said.


"My understanding is the injuries are not life-threatening, but perhaps limb-threatening," Hayes-White said.


The 3-year-old female tiger, Tatiana, reached through the iron bars of her enclosure and grabbed the trainer with both front paws shortly after 2 p.m. (5 p.m. ET), zoo officials said.


At least 50 visitors were at the zoo's big cat exhibit, called the Lion House, when the tiger attacked, said Robert Jenkins, director of animal care and conservation at the zoo. They were quickly evacuated after the incident.


The trainer has been an animal keeper at the zoo since 1997. Her main job is taking care of the zoo's four lions and three tigers, Jenkins said.


"No matter how familiar you get with these animals, they're still wild animals," Jenkins said. "You have to have a healthy respect for them and be aware of what can happen."


The zoo houses two types of tigers, Sumatran and Siberian. The tigers are fed fortified horse meat at the Lion House facility. The Sumatran tigers can weigh up to 350 pounds, while the Siberian males can weigh up to 600 pounds.


The indoor portion of the Lion House will remain closed pending an investigation of the attack, Jenkins said. Visitors will still be able to view the zoo's lions and tigers, including Tatiana, in the outdoor portion of the exhibit.


Tatiana arrived at the San Francisco Zoo from the Denver Zoo more than a year ago. There were no previous incidents of aggression against humans involving the tiger, said Ana Bowie, a Denver Zoo spokeswoman.


The mauling was the first tiger attack on a human at San Francisco Zoo, Jenkins said.


The zoo conducts tiger feedings six days a week, a popular attraction for hordes of children, parents and nannies who visit daily.


According to its Web site, San Francisco Zoo is one of the only zoos in the United States where visitors can see big cat feedings.


Another big cat caused a scare at the other end of the country early Friday when a worker at the National Zoo in Washington discovered a clouded leopard was missing from its enclosure.


The zoo was cordoned off while a search was conducted. The leopard was found sleeping near its enclosure after about 35 minutes. It was anesthetized and returned safely to its enclosure.





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Denver airport reopens with a long backlog


A day after Denver's snowed-in airport reopened, United Airlines' plan to resume a full flight schedule Saturday provided little comfort to those unable to complete their travel plans by Christmas.


Some travelers gave up hope of making it home for the holidays as airlines running at near-full capacity had little room on planes for thousands stranded after Denver International Airport closed amid a blizzard.


Boulder resident Debbi Elliott arrived three hours early for a confirmed flight Friday, but the line at the ticket counter was so long she missed it. Rather than go standby, she gave up on spending the holiday in Detroit with her family.


"They were calling up people who had their flights canceled and were looking for a ticket when they could have been helping those with confirmed tickets," she said. "It's disappointing. I feel it's bad organization."


The jam in Denver backed up flights around the country heading into one of the busiest travel times of the year, with 9 million Americans planning to take to the skies during the nine-day Christmas-to-New Year's period.


More than 3,000 incoming flights alone were canceled or diverted from Denver during the 45-hour shutdown.


On Friday, there were delays in Atlanta because of low visibility and in Philadelphia because of wind. A ripple effect affected flights at other airports, including Los Angeles and in Chicago.


Army Spc. Nicholas Silva, of Aurora, curled up on a bench and hunkered down Friday for a third night inside Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. After two nights on the bench -- and another approaching -- the soldier said he hoped to board a plane for home Saturday evening.


"I've slept in worse areas so this doesn't bug me all that much," said Silva, who spent last Christmas stationed in Iraq and is traveling home for the first time in two years. "I'll be home for Christmas. I can see my family. Does it really matter after that?"


An estimated 64.9 million people will travel more than 50 miles from home by air, rail and road during the holidays, according to AAA.


Denver International, the nation's fifth-busiest airport, closed to all flights Wednesday when a blizzard buried the city in 2 feet of snow, closing schools, offices and stores at the very height of the Christmas rush.


An estimated 4,700 travelers camped out at the airport that night, and close to 2,000 spent a second night on the hard floors and a few cots, hoping to get a place at the front of long lines at ticket counters.


Airport officials did not have an estimate of how many people were still there Friday night.


As planes began taking off again at noon Friday, passengers with long-standing reservations filled most of the outbound flights. That was bad news for those waiting to rebook flights canceled during the storm.


Airline officials tried to explain to unhappy travelers at the airport that they cannot simply bring in extra planes to clear the backlog, and those stranded learned it could be Christmas -- or later -- before they can catch a plane at DIA.


"When we get an airplane, we run it 10 hours a day every day," said Frontier spokesman Joe Hodas. "It's not like we can decide Dayton's not important and just pull some planes from there."


Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident Alan Kuhn met another stranded passenger, Denise Brien, in Denver, and they organized a group to rent a van to run back and forth to downtown hotels.


On Friday, they decided they were standing in their last line.


"I couldn't get Frontier, I couldn't get on the Web site, and I couldn't get them on the phone," Kuhn said. "And that's when we said, `If we can't get a flight today, we're going to drive.' The roads are open, the sun is out."


At Chicago's O'Hare, delays averaged 45 to 60 minutes Friday evening, down from 60 to 90 minutes in the afternoon, said Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Wendy Abrams.


Chicago's Midway Airport reported some 30-minute delays.


"It looks like we're through the worst of it," Abrams said.








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Cyber Crime Hits the Big Time in 2006

Experts Say 2007 Will Be Even More Treacherous


Call it the "year of computing dangerously."


Computer security experts say 2006 saw an unprecedented spike in junk e-mail and sophisticated online attacks from increasingly organized cyber crooks. These attacks were made possible, in part, by a huge increase in the number of security holes identified in widely used software products.




Internet users witnessed yet another wave of spam, worms, viruses and other online attacks in 2005, and experts predict the online world will grow even more dangerous this year.


Few Internet security watchers believe 2007 will be any brighter for the millions of fraud-weary consumers already struggling to stay abreast of new computer security threats and avoiding clever scams when banking, shopping or just surfing online.


One of the best measures of the rise in cyber crime this year is spam. More than 90 percent of all e-mail sent online in October was unsolicited junk mail messages, according to Postini, a San Carlos, Calif.-based e-mail security firm. The volume of spam shot up 60 percent in the past two months alone as spammers began embedding their messages in images to evade junk e-mail filters that search for particular words and phrases.


As a result, network administrators are not only having to deal with considerably more junk mail, but the image-laden messages also require roughly three times more storage space and Internet bandwidth for companies to process than text-based e-mail, said Daniel Druker, Postini's vice president of marketing.


"We're getting an unprecedented amount of calls from people whose e-mail systems are melting down under this onslaught," Druker said.


Spam volumes are often viewed as a barometer for the relative security of the Internet community at large, in part because most spam is relayed via "bots," a term used to describe home computers that online criminals have compromised surreptitiously with a computer virus or worm. The more compromised computers that the bad guys control and link together in networks, or "botnets," the greater volume of spam they can blast onto the Intenet.


At any given time, there are between three and four million bots active on the Internet, according to Gadi Evron, a botnet expert who managed Internet security for the Israeli government before joining Beyond Security, an Israeli firm that consults with companies on security. And that estimate only counts spam bots. Evron said there are millions of other bots that are typically used to launch "distributed denial-of-service" attacks -- online shakedowns wherein attackers overwhelm Web sites with useless data if the targets refuse to pay protection money.


"Botnets have become the moving force behind organized crime online, with a low-risk, high-profit calculation," Evron said. He estimated that organized criminals would earn about $2 billion this year through phishing scams, which involve the use of spam and fake Web sites to trick computer users into disclosing financial and other personal data. Criminals also seed bots with programs that can record and steal usernames and passwords from compromised computers.




Another interesting measure of the growth of online crime is data showing that criminal groups have shifted their activities from nights and weekends to weekday attacks, suggesting that online crime is evolving into a full-time profession for many.


Cuptertino, Calif.-based Internet security provider Symantec Corp. found that the incidence of phishing scams dropped significantly on Sundays and Mondays in the United States. Symantec found similar trends when it examined the pattern of new virus variants being compiled and released by attackers.


"The bulk of the fraud attacks we're seeing now are coming in Monday through Friday, in the 9-5 U.S.-workday timeframe," said Vincent Weafer, director of security response at Symantec. "We now have groups of attackers who are motivated by profit and willing to spend the time and effort to learn how to conduct these attacks on a regular basis. For a great many online criminals these days, this is their day job: They're working full time now."


Criminals are also getting more sophisticated in evading anti-fraud efforts. This year saw the advent and wide deployment of Web-browser based "toolbars" and other technologies designed to detect when users have visited a known or suspected phishing Web site. In response, many online scam artists place phishing Web sites targeting multiple banks and e-commerce companies on the same Web servers, then route traffic to those servers through home computers that they have commandeered with bot programs.


In such operations, each individual scam page is assigned to a Web site that, for a short time, is tied to an Internet address of a compromised computer that the criminals control. When a would-be victim clicks on a link in a phishing e-mail, he or she is routed through the drone PC to the correct scam page.




Internet users witnessed yet another wave of spam, worms, viruses and other online attacks in 2005, and experts predict the online world will grow even more dangerous this year.


The result is that even if law enforcement or security experts manage to take down the infected PC responsible for relaying traffic to one of the scam sites, the effect of that takedown is only temporary, as the attackers can simply substitute another computer they have gained control over. Such scams make it far more difficult for security experts to find the true location of phishing servers.


"We seen a pretty big evolutionary jump in tactics used by phishers over the past year, and I believe it's because some of the toolbar makers and the good guys who work to get these scam sites shut down have really done a good job at preventing them from being successful," said Dan Hubbard, vice president of research for Websense, an online security firm based in San Diego, Calif.


Software Insecurity


These past 12 months brought a steep increase in the number of software security vulnerabilities discovered by researchers and actively exploited by criminals. The world's largest software maker, Microsoft Corp., this year issued software updates to fix 97 security holes that the company assigned its most dire "critical" label, meaning hackers could use them to break into vulnerable machines without any action on the part of the user.


In contrast, Microsoft shipped just 37 critical updates in 2005. Fourteen of this year's critical flaws were known as "zero day" threats, meaning Microsoft first learned about the security holes only after criminals had already begun using them for financial gain.


This year began with a zero-day hole in Microsoft's Internet Explorer, the browser of choice for roughly 80 percent of the world's online population. Criminals were able to exploit the flaw to install keystroke-recording and password-stealing software on millions of computers running Windows software.


At least 11 of those zero-day vulnerabilities were in the Microsoft's Office productivity software suites, flaws that bad guys mainly used in targeted attacks against corporations, according to the SANS Internet Storm Center, a security research and training group in Bethesda, Md. This year, Microsoft issued patches to correct a total of 37 critical Office security flaws (that number excludes three unpatched vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word, two of which Microsoft has acknowledged that criminals are actively exploiting.)


But 2006 also was notable for attacks on flaws in software applications designed to run on top of operating systems, such as media players, Web browsers, and word processing and spreadsheet programs. In early February, attackers used a security hole in AOL's popular Winamp media player to install spyware when users downloaded a seemingly harmless playlist file. In December, a computer worm took advantage of a design flaw in Apple's QuickTime media player to steal passwords from roughly 100,000 MySpace.com bloggers, accounts that were then hijacked and used for sending spam. Also this month, security experts spotted a computer worm spreading online that was powered by a six-month old security hole in a corporate anti-virus product from Symantec Corp.


Tom Liston, a senior security consultant at Washington, D.C.-based IntelGuardians, said the increasing focus on attacking flaws in other software is a reaction to growing security awareness among small business owners and home computer users.


Dim Prospects for 2007


Websense's Hubbard predicts that 2007 will see the evolution of malware designed to take advantage of presently unknown security holes in browser-based anti-phishing toolbar programs, such as the ones embedded in Mozilla's Firefox 2.0 browser and Microsoft's Internet Explorer Version 7.


Criminal gangs also are beginning to wise up about hiding the data they've stolen, he said. Online criminals often store stolen bank account information in plain text files on random Web sites that they've gained access to. Security experts frequently index and alert financial institutions to any compromised customer accounts, but Hubbard said he expects more cyber crooks to begin scrambling their data stashes with encryption programs, potentially crippling fraud detection efforts.


Many security professionals speak highly of Microsoft's Vista, the newest version of Windows scheduled for release next month. The program includes a number of improvements that should help users stay more secure online, such as a hardened Web browser that includes new anti-fraud tools, as well as operating system level changes that should make it more difficult for the user or rogue spyware or viruses to make unwanted or unwise changes to key system settings and files.


But experts worry that businesses will be slow to switch to the new operating system. And even if consumers rush to upgrade existing machines or purchase new ones that include Vista, Microsoft will continue to battle security holes in legacy versions of Microsoft Office, which are expected to remain in widespread use for the next 5-10 years.


Online fraud will get even more sophisticated in 2007, researchers fear. "Criminals have gone from trying to hit as many machines as possible to focusing on techniques that allow them to remain undetected on infected machines longer," Symantec's Weafer said.


Some software security vendors suspect that a new Trojan horse program that surfaced last month, dubbed "Rustock.B" by some anti-virus companies, may serve as the template for malware attacks going forward. The program morphs itself slightly each time it installs on a new machine in an effort to evade anti-virus software. In addition, it hides in the deepest recesses of the Windows operating system, creates invisible copies of itself, and refuses to work under common malware analysis tools in an attempt to defy identification and analysis by security researchers.


"This is about the nastiest piece of malware we've ever seen, and we're going to be seeing more of it," said Alex Eckelberry, president of Clearwater, Fla. based security vendor Sunbelt Software. "The new threats that we saw in 2006 have shown us that the malware authors are ingenious and creative in their methods. Unfortunately, those attributes aren't ones we would normally consider laudable in the context of criminals."







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Hawaii digs in to shore up Waikiki Beach


HONOLULU, Hawaii (AP) -- Along the sandy sliver that is Hawaii's world-famous Waikiki Beach, waves sometimes reach all the way across the beach to touch solid land.


At some points, the sparkling sand is wide enough for only two or three sun-soaked beachgoers to lay their bodies on the swath between solid land and Pacific Ocean waters.


State officials are testing a sand-pumping project in an attempt to reclaim the iconic beach after years of chronic erosion using offshore sand, without having to truck in sand from around Oahu, other Hawaiian islands or even other countries.


The beach has shrunk by about a foot per year over the past five decades as rough currents wear away the smooth surface, scientists say.


The erosion isn't caused by heavy use from the 70,000 tourists who trample over the islands each day.


The main culprit is a sand shortage caused by shoreline development, including sea walls and the loss of dunes buried by manmade structures, said Chip Fletcher, a University of Hawaii professor and expert in coastal geology.


"We sell Hawaii in the form of thousands of photographs of our beaches every year," Fletcher said. "If the beaches go away, we have a problem."


While the beach still satisfies millions of visitors annually, it's barely a sandbox compared with the vast expanses found a half-century ago. If it's not cared for, Waikiki Beach will eventually disappear entirely.

'The water is too close'


"It used to be big. Now it's crowded, and everyone is bunched together," Honolulu resident Ashley Granados said as she sat alongside a spot about 20 yards wide. "The water is too close."


Beach erosion is common worldwide, and the usual remedy is to truck in sand, but that hasn't been done in any major way at Waikiki since the 1970s. Sand has been imported from other areas of Oahu, Hawaii's Molokai island and -- if you believe local legends -- as far away as Australia.


Waikiki, whose sands bear different names in their stretch from near Diamond Head to the public boat harbor, steadily declined for most of the past 30 years. The plan is to dredge 10,000 cubic yards of sand from about a half-mile offshore, then pump it underwater back to the beach.


The $425,000 test program gives beach lovers hope that Waikiki could be restored to its original splendor, but officials have said it could cost $25 million to repair all of the beach.


Sand pumping has been used at other beaches, but rarely in Hawaii because of fears of disrupting the delicate ocean floor and a lack of funding. The Legislature set aside money for the project.


"Waikiki is probably best known for the fact that it's a major resort destination with sun, sand and surf," said Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association. "The health of Waikiki Beach is very central to Hawaii's image."


Just a walk across the street from Waikiki's hotels and shops, the beach periodically widens and narrows. Surfers wade out to catch the waves year-round, canoeists paddle, kids build sand castles and others bask in the sun.


At the pink stucco Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the beach stops entirely at a concrete wall. The ocean laps at the wall for several yards before the sand reappears.


Most visitors say they're still impressed with the beach that is so closely identified with the essence of Hawaii.


"We're just happy to be here," said Janet Corey from Canada, swimming with her daughters where the beach gets particularly thin. "Maintaining the beach seems to be the right thing to do, because that's why people come here."

State says plan environmentally friendly


Officials are replenishing certain sections of the beach at different times, which should minimize the effect on tourists during the busy winter season. The project, which started December 4, is expected to be completed in early January.


State officials say the plan to dredge and pump sand is environmentally friendly, because it recycles the same sand that was originally part of the beach.


If successful, they say the project could become a model for replenishing more of Waikiki and other fading Hawaiian beaches.


Just as a house must be repainted every few years, the beach will need to be the subject of constant vigilance if government officials want it to stay around, Fletcher said.


"If we want to keep the beach there, we have to keep maintaining it," he said. "Since 1970, we haven't been maintaining it. We've neglected our house."





James Brown, the 'Godfather of Soul,' dies at 73




Dogged police work identifies 'Jane Doe'


SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- From the moment the girl's body was found stuffed in a duffel bag nearly four years ago, her image haunted detective Scott Dudek -- her feminine pajama pants, the single ankle sock decorated with snowflakes, the butterfly clip in her hair.


Yet so much was missing -- she had no identification, and no one had filed a missing person report.


"We had this beautiful child, and no one was coming forth to claim her," Dudek said. "But you knew instantaneously this was someone's little girl."


The FBI's crime database lists about 6,000 unidentified victims nationally. Some of them have gone unclaimed for decades.


But something about the teenage girl abandoned among the weeds behind a Castro Valley diner struck a cord with Dudek and his team at the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.


For the next three years and eight months, the detectives spent long days and thousands of dollars tracking her identity. The teen known as "Jane Doe" became "their girl," and the case's ups and downs took an emotional toll. Dudek's wife asked him to stop discussing the case over Christmas.


But the investigators' persistence paid off. Last week, DNA results gave their victim a name: Yesenia Becerra Nungaray.



Hitting the road on her 16th birthday


Interviews with her mother allowed detectives a glimpse into her life: the doe-eyed teenager had an adventurous streak but was close to her family. She left her small, quiet town in Mexico for the United States on March 14, 2003 -- her 16th birthday.


In calls home, she begged her mother to join her, saying even her worst days in the United States were better than her greatest days at home, Dudek said.


Yet six weeks after she left, she was dead.


The detectives were called when the restaurant's employees found a body wrapped in plastic and folded into a green duffel bag on May 1, 2003.


She had been dead for days -- likely asphyxiated with a rag found lodged in her throat. At 5-foot-1 and 110 pounds, she seemed young, somewhere between 12 and 18 years old.


Investigators got to work.


"We felt this was a good kid," Dudek said. "We were doing everything we could."


They rounded up specialists, who donated their time to examine her bones and her teeth. They had her DNA tested.


They reached out to the community and neighboring police departments, looking into their missing persons reports, eventually checking almost 300 missing girl cases nationwide.


No one had reported her missing.



Strangers pay for grave marker


But the community rallied around her, and the girl without a name was buried under a marker reading "Unknown Child of God" in a funeral paid for by nearly 100 people. Dozens attended the ceremony, though none of them likely knew her.


Dudek got a lead in February 2004 while reading an article that mentioned the hundreds of unsolved disappearances of young women along the border with Mexico.


He and other investigators traveled to El Paso, Texas, and met with mothers yearning for news of their missing daughters. They took eight DNA samples from cases that seemed related and waited weeks for the results.


None matched.


In June 2006, the county offered a $50,000 reward for relevant information, adding to the $5,000 reward from the Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation. County Supervisor Gail Steele said she was moved by the death of a child who had no one to mourn her.



After three years, a major development


The leads flowed in, and investigators hit on a major development.


An undocumented immigrant, Miguel Angel Nunez Castaneda, had apparently lived in Hayward with the victim. He is not a suspect, but is considered a "person of interest" and is being sought by police.


Detectives suspected the girl, like Nunez, might be from Yahualica, a small town of 35,000 in the Mexican state of Jalisco where the majority of families have relatives in the United States.


They again made the trip south, taking with them fliers bearing the girl's likeness, and her story, as they knew it, printed in Spanish. For three days, they spread the word to residents.


It paid off.


One of the fliers landed in the hands of Maria Del Carmen, a mother of three whose middle child, her only daughter, had left for the United States. At first she called regularly. One day her calls stopped.

DNA test gives a sad answer


On their last day in Mexico, the detectives visited Del Carmen and talked to her into the night, looking through pictures and sharing their story, Dudek said.


They learned enough to believe they'd hit on the right family. But they needed a DNA test to confirm their hunch.


Last week, they got their answer. The girl's mother was devastated.


"It's sad, but at least now she knows," Dudek said.


Del Carmen was moved to learn how a community of strangers had come to care for her daughter, dedicating years to investigate her death and giving her a dignified burial, he said.


Now the officers are raising money to move Yesenia's body back to Mexico so she can be buried near her family. And they're gearing up for the next step: finding her killer.


"We've got this monster out there who killed her and dumped her like she was a bag of trash," Dudek said. "I always felt confident that once we identified her, we'd find her killer."







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Missing Pages



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Comscore Clings to a Page View World


I have no reason to pick on the fine folks at comScore Media Metrix. However, despite some recent indications that they want to change, it seems as though they are clinging to the days of yore when hits were all that ruled.


Consider this analysis published yesterday by Ars Technica. The piece reports: "comScore has said that they are working on new metrics that will also take into account the trappings of Web 2.0, including interactive AJAX-driven web pages which do not necessarily generate page views." That doesn't sound like bad news, right? Wrong.


Further down in the piece Dr. Magid Abraham, President and CEO of comScore Networks, added: "While page views will not altogether cease to be a relevant measure of a site's value, it's clear that there is an increasing need to consider page views alongside newer, more relevant measures." Abraham, however, doesn't say what that solution is. The reason could be such metrics could have severe ramifications for comScore's business model, which feeds off a hit-driven economy that's dying.


Comscore needs to wake up and realize that we're in a Long Tail world where top 10 lists matter less. Marketers want to know about the influence circles within the niches that matter to them - and those niches are often tiny. The time is now for comScore to open up to the little guy.


Quantcast is going to eat comScore's lunch. They recognize that partnering with the crowd is essential to measuring it. Comscore seems to slow to adopt to this model and it's highly possible they will become irrelevant in this world if they don't change fast.






comScore to take Web 2.0 seriously


Television has Nielsen, but the web has no clear leader for ranking the world's busiest websites. There's no shortage of competitors in the space, of course, and you've probably heard of many of them: Alexa, comScore, HitWise, and the newcomer, Compete. None of them provide uncontested results, however. Many of them do worship the almighty "page views" god, but that's about to change.


In the wake of announcing that MySpace has taken the top spot in page views online from Yahoo's clutches, comScore has said that they are working on new metrics that will also take into account the trappings of Web 2.0, including interactive AJAX-driven web pages which do not necessarily generate page views. The problem is simple: the number of page views on a site does not indicate how much a site is used (let alone valued) by its readers. Google Maps is a fine example: after initially visiting the site, actual page loads are few and far between, as the application pulls data dynamically from Google as needed. Yahoo, too, has been using AJAX and other interactive approaches to content, which some have argued invalidates MySpace's climb to the top.


In a statement issued last week, comScore acknowledged the problem, saying: "The recent decline reported by comScore in Yahoo! Sites page views underscores another emerging issue in the Web metrics measurement industry. New technologies such as AJAX—which enable real-time site updates without needing to refresh a page—are impacting the relevance of page views as an accurate measure of the intensity of consumers’ Internet usage. Yahoo! in particular has begun implementing AJAX and other Web 2.0 technologies across their sites."


Dr. Magid Abraham, President and CEO of comScore Networks, added: "While page views will not altogether cease to be a relevant measure of a site's value, it's clear that there is an increasing need to consider page views alongside newer, more relevant measures. comScore is proud to continue carrying the torch as an industry innovator with the development of a new suite of metrics that will effectively address the Web 2.0 landscape by including enhanced measures of user engagement and advertising exposure. We will be introducing these new metrics to the industry in 2007."


Just what those changes are remains to be seen, but we're eagerly anticipating them. Why?

More than bragging rights


For better or for worse, web ratings are needed. They help good sites stay afloat, but the magical nature of these metrics leaves many site operators, advertisers, and, increasingly, bloggers, scratching their heads.


If comScore says you have 1 million readers and 3 million page views, but you know that you have 2 million readers and plenty of interactivity not reflected by page views, it can cost your web site money. Advertisers might look down their nose at you. Companies may chose to ignore you. Generally speaking, you're not getting credit for your traffic. This hurts some more than others.


In fact, I know of more than one major acquisition deal involving hot Web 2.0 sites that have been stalled on this account. Site owners aren't about to leave money on the table because of what an analytics firm says, but companies in acquisition mode aren't always looking beyond the metrics. What's worse, the inaccurate numbers give a false impression of what's really attracting and retaining users online, and it's particularly unfair to the most cutting edge sites. Consider MySpace: do they really deserve the #1 spot simply because to do anything on MySpace, you have to load many, many pages? MySpace was built to generate page views. Other sites are built to minimize them.


To make matters worse, many of these traffic measurement services use data collection methods which are known to undervalue certain classes of users, including those dedicated to technology. comScore, for instance, tracks users who voluntarily participate in an e-commerce tracking system, and then it uses behavioral data from those opt-in users to extrapolate trends on a massive scale. As you might guess, this means that some sites are under represented. Ars Technica, for instance, attracts highly savvy readers who by and large do not opt in to such systems. The same is true for most technology sites online, and their scores suffer; comScore does not truly know our audience, only a small portion of it. Other metrics might rely on a toolbar or similar opt-in systems, which immediately raises the question of what qualifies as a "standard" Internet user. If that definition remains "guy who buys things online using Internet Explorer with this special toolbar installed," then you can see the problem.


With comScore showing interest in taking Web 2.0 more seriously, perhaps there's hope that someone will eventually crack the web-ratings nut.





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Cleanup begins after 2 Florida tornadoes


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - At least two Christmas Day tornadoes damaged hundreds of Florida homes, with one flipping airplanes at a flight school and tearing the roofs off three apartment buildings, officials confirmed Tuesday.



"It's all gone," said Estelle Hunter, 25, who left her home five minutes before the wind uprooted a tree and slammed it through the roof.


"All of my baby's Christmas presents are under water," she said as she tried to salvage what she could.


The tornado that hit Daytona Beach on Monday was an F-2, with wind speeds between 113 mph and 157 mph. Its wind tore the roofs off three apartment buildings, extensively damaging many of the 240 units. At Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, it hurled an airplane into a wall, sparking a fire, and snapped off wings or flipped about 50 others.


"It's near miraculous that no one was killed," said Bart Hagemeyer, a

National Weather Service meteorologist based in Melbourne.


More than 200 homes in a number of mobile home parks were damaged west of Daytona Beach around DeLand, where another F-2 tornado was confirmed, the Volusia County Property Appraiser's Office said.


Authorities were still surveying damage in two other hard-hit areas — near Leesburg in central Florida and in Pasco County, along the Gulf Coast north of Tampa — which may have been struck by tornadoes as well.


In Pasco County, officials reported about 80 homes damaged or destroyed, largely around the Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club.


Elaine Mandela was among those forced from their home, spending Monday night with friends. She was unsure what she would do after.


"I have no idea," she said. "I'm not sure it has hit me yet."






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In Hollywood, two companies battle over inflatable airheads


A Hollywood dummy designer who filled "Rocky Balboa" and dozens of other big-budget films with inflatable extras is being sued by a pair of mannequin makers who say they were the first to come up with the idea of replacing humans with airheads.


Plastic people-maker Crowd in a Box filed a patent infringement suit last week against The Inflatable Crowd and owner [Joe Biggins for his use of "inflatable humanoid figures."


"Joe Biggins made comments in various press reports that he was the inventor of these things ... but while he was using them, we were creating them and patenting them," Crowd in a Box co-owner Mark Woolpert told CourtTVnews.com.


"There's nothing new about looking back in film history and seeing mannequins and humanoids in movies," Joe Biggins said when reached by phone at his Santa Monica office.


Biggins declined to comment on pending litigation.


Woolpert says he had met with Biggins and their respective attorneys to try to resolve the issue and create a working relationship.


"But it's never come to any specific resolution," Woolpert says. "In this industry, we live and die by trademarks and patents. The only alternative was to file suit."


Crowd in a Box is asking for a permanent injunction against The Inflatable Crowd, as well as unspecified damages and fees.


Life-size dummies are increasingly being used in films, commercials and music videos as inexpensive stand-ins for extras because they don't eat, take breaks or pester the talent.


The blow-up actors typically have painted-on faces, hair and clothes, but no legs.


Crowd in a Box, which charges about $15 a day for 50 to 100 dolls, has filled dozens of theaters and stadiums with its balloon people. It lists MTV, ESPN, and the makers of "Nacho Libre" and "Be Cool" among its clients.


When Tobey Maguire raced to glory in "Seabiscuit," it was Joe Biggins' lifeless onlookers who passively watched from the stadium seats.


The Inflatable Crowd's Biggins says "if you look very closely" you can spot the fakes in the audiences featured in more than three dozen feature films to his credit, including such disparate pictures as "Dodgeball" and "Flags of our Fathers."


About 11,000 of Biggins' mannequins watched Russell Crowe's boxing matches in "Cinderella Man." Two years ago, he sent about 315 airheads to London for bit parts in "Phantom of the Opera."


"We rented a few hundred torsos. They really saved us," says Eli Richbourg, co-producer and second unit director on "Phantom."


"Phantom" was shot in London where, according to Richbourg, the cost of one living, breathing extra can run upwards of $160 a day. When they needed to fill an 800-seat theater, they augmented the real crowd with an inflatable crowd.


"They really look like sex dolls," Richbourg says. "The handlers put wigs and masks on them. One of the masks looked conspicuously like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The creepiest part is we'd leave them in the theater overnight and you'd come in, in the morning when the lights were off, and you'd see these eerie, wide-eyed doll people."


Before inflatable extras, filmmakers often resorted to one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs.


Crowd in a Box's Woolpert says that the idea to create inflatable extras first came to him and co-owner John Stanier, a cinematographer on such films as "Rambo III," after Stanier complained of a wet day of shooting that caused the colors to bleed off the faces of his cardboard stand-ins.


Their three-dimensional solution, Woolpert claims, was conceived well before Biggins first put inflatable people in 2003's "Seabiscuit."


Woolpert and Stanier filed their first patent application in 2001 and were issued the first of four patents in 2004 by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office.


"Our patents cover use of inflatable humanoid figures in background scenes in movies," Woolpert says. "To use any type of inflatable humanoid figure in background scenes of movies, according to my lawyers, is a violation of our patent."









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Auditors: Katrina waste could top $2 billion


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The tally for Hurricane Katrina waste could top $2 billion next year because half of the lucrative government contracts valued at $500,000 or greater for cleanup work are being awarded with little competition.


Federal investigators have already determined the Bush administration squandered $1 billion on fraudulent disaster aid to individuals after the 2005 storm.


Now they are shifting their attention to the multimillion dollar contracts to politically connected firms that critics have long said are a prime area for abuse.


In January, investigators will release the first of several audits examining more than $12 billion in Katrina contracts. The charges range from political favoritism to limited opportunities for small and minority-owned firms, which initially got only 1.5 percent of the total work.


"Based on their track record, it wouldn't surprise me if we saw another billion more in waste," said Clark Kent Ervin, the Homeland Security Department's inspector general from 2003-2004. "I don't think sufficient progress has been made."


He called it inexcusable that the Bush administration would still have so many no-bid contracts. Under pressure last year, Federal Emergency Management Agency director David Paulison pledged to rebid many of the agreements, only to backtrack months later and reopen only a portion.



Ervin: Laziness, ineptitude or worse?


Investigators are now examining whether some of the agreements -- which in some cases were extended without warning rather than rebid -- are still unfairly benefiting large firms.


"It's a combination of laziness, ineptitude and it may well be nefarious," Ervin said.


FEMA spokesman James McIntyre said the agency was working to fix its mistakes by awarding contracts for future disasters through competitive bidding. Paulison has said he welcomes additional oversight but cautioned against investigations that aren't based on "new evidence and allegations."


"As always, FEMA will work with Congress in all aspects to ensure that we are carrying out the agency's responsibilities," McIntyre said.


The August 29, 2005, hurricane swept ashore in southern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, leveling homes and businesses along the Gulf Coast. Its storm surge breached levees in New Orleans, unleashing a flood that left more than 1,300 people dead, hundreds of thousands homeless and tens of billions of dollars worth of damage.


A series of government investigations in the storm's wake faulted the Bush administration for underestimating the threat and failing to prepare by pre-negotiating contracts for basic supplies in what has become the nation's costliest disaster.


Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office said its initial estimate of $1 billion in disaster aid waste was "likely understated," citing continuing problems in which FEMA doled out tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent housing assistance.


Democrats in Congress called for more accountability. When they take over in January, at least seven committees plan hearings or other oversight -- from housing to disaster loans -- on how the $88 billion approved for Katrina relief is being spent.

Among the investigations:


• The propriety of four no-bid contracts together worth $400 million to Shaw Group Inc., Bechtel Group Inc., CH2M Hill Companies Ltd., and Fluor Corp. that were awarded without competition.


The contracts drew immediate criticism because of the companies' extensive political and government ties, prompting a promise last year from Paulison to rebid them. Instead, FEMA rebid only a portion and then extended their contracts once, if not twice -- to $3.4 billion total -- so the firms could finish their remaining Katrina work.


The four companies, which have denied that connections played a factor, were among six that also won new contracts after open bidding in August. The latest contracts are worth up to $250 million each for future disaster work.


• The propriety of 36 trailer contract awards designated for small and local businesses as part of Paulison's promise to rebid large contracts.


Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner is reviewing whether some small and local businesses were unfairly shut out in favor of winners such as joint venture PRI-DJI. DJI stands for Del-Jen Inc., a subsidiary of Fluor, which has donated more than $930,000 to mostly Republican candidates since 2000.


"It's not what you know, what your expertise is. I don't even believe it's got much to do with price. It's who you know," contends Ken Edmonds, owner of River Parish RV Inc. in Louisiana, a company of 9 people whose application was rejected.


PRI, a minority-owned firm based in San Diego, said it is the "majority partner" with Del-Jen as part of a federal mentoring program offered by the Small Business Administration. The joint venture received four Katrina contracts worth up to $100 million each based on price and "knowledge of work with the federal government," president Frank Loscavio said.


• Whether small and minority-owned businesses were unfairly hurt after the Bush administration initially waived competition requirements.


For many weeks after the storm, minority firms received 1.5 percent of the total work -- less than one-third of the 5 percent normally required -- because they weren't allowed to bid for many of the emergency contracts.


The National Black Chamber of Commerce called the figure appalling because of the disproportionate number of poor, black people in the stricken Gulf Coast, prompting Sen. Olympia Snowe, A Republican from Maine, and Rep. Donald Manzullo, an Illinois Republican, to request GAO to investigate.


FEMA has since restored many of its competition rules, and the number of contracts given to minority firms is now about 8.8 percent, according to the agency.







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Bush recalls Ford's integrity, instincts



Former President Gerald Ford dies at 93



2006: The Year Of The Choke Out



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Second Life Reality Check




Good Music Makes Good People


Here’s another nice campaign from Belgium. I like the visuals they’ve chosen to match with the names of the music artists, especially the one with the guy who’s filling all the little ducks with air. It’s a nice way to think of the concept, although it makes me wonder what the ‘reverse’ side would be. If good music makes good people, then bad music makes bad people. So all of you who listen to Cradle Of Filth, Paradise Lost, Marilyn Manson or Deicide: your mom was right! The music is causing you all to be bad! :) But seriously, it’s a funny campaign.

Client: Pure FM

Agency: Duval Guillaume Brussels

Account Team: Olivier Henet, Denis Henet, Isabel Peeters

Creative Directors: Katrien Bottez, Peter Ampe

Copy: Virginie Lepère, Benoît Menetret

Art Directors: Fred Van Hoof, Jean-Marc Wachsmann

TV Producer: Dieter Lebbe

Graphic Designer: Cécile Van Caillie

Typography: Cécile Van Caillie

Production Company: Czar

Director: Brecht Vanhoenacker

Producer: Eva Van Riet

Music: Soldout, Yves Brunson (arrangements)

Photographer: Gregor Colienne

Retouching: Fred Dupont

Media: Magazines, posters, TV, cinéma








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Houston, we have a luggage problem


HOUSTON, Texas (AP) -- Authorities were trying to figure out Tuesday how dozens of pieces of luggage belonging to air travelers ended up in a trash bin behind a Houston pet store.


FBI special agent Rolando Munoz said 68 pieces of luggage from various international flights were discovered. He said the luggage was turned over to Continental Airlines to sort out.


The bags belonged to travelers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, said Sgt. Dana Wolfe, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Sheriff's Office, which first responded to the luggage report. She said tags on the bags showed some of the travelers were going to or from London and Dubai.


The Houston Police Department is handling the case, Munoz and Wolfe said. A Houston police spokesman had no additional details Tuesday night.


Mary Clark, a spokeswoman for Continental, said she didn't know if the contents of the bags were stolen.


"We're going to be investigating and the authorities are going to be investigating," she said, adding that the airline was working with other carriers to match the bags with lost luggage claims. She did not have the names of the other airlines involved.


The owners of the pet store found the luggage.







Killer's ashes kicked out of national cemetery







Man drowns after rescuing girl


VENTURA, California (AP) -- A man rescued his 4-year-old grandniece who was swept into the ocean by a wave, then drowned in the rough surf on Tuesday, authorities said.


The girl and her mother were watching the big waves when one knocked the child off a jetty, said Ventura County fire Capt. Barry Parker.


Timothy Barry, 54, jumped into the water off Pierpont Beach after hearing the girl's mother screaming for help, Parker said.


Barry reached the girl and kept her head above water until a surfer arrived and brought her to safety, Parker said.


Lifeguards found Barry floating face down by the time they arrived. He was not breathing and did not have a pulse, Parker said.


About an hour later, police and state lifeguards closed the Ventura Pier about a quarter-mile away because 10- to 12-foot waves were slapping its underside, said police Sgt. Jack Richards.





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Senate sex blog suit heads toward X-rated trial


WASHINGTON (AP) -- When Robert Steinbuch discovered his girlfriend had discussed intimate details about their sex life in her online diary, the Capitol Hill staffer didn't just get mad. He got a lawyer.


Soon, though, the racy tidbits about the sex lives of the two Senate aides faded from the front pages and the gossip pages. Steinbuch accepted a teaching job in Arkansas, leaving Washington and Jessica Cutler's "Washingtonienne" Web log behind.


While sex scandals turn over quickly in this city, lawsuits do not. Steinbuch's case over the embarrassing, sexually charged blog appears headed for an embarrassing, sexually charged trial.


Lurid testimony about spanking, handcuffs and prostitution aside, the Washingtonienne case could help establish whether people who keep online diaries are obligated to protect the privacy of the people they interact with offline.


Cutler, a former aide to Sen. Mike DeWine, an Ohio Republican, says she created the blog in 2004 to keep a few friends up to date on her social life. Like a digital version of the sex-themed banter from a "Sex and the City" episode, Cutler described the thrill and tribulations of juggling sexual relationships with six men.


One of those men was Steinbuch, a counsel to DeWine on the Judiciary Committee. Cutler called him the "current favorite" and said he resembled George Clooney, liked spanking and disliked condoms.


"He's very upfront about sex," she wrote. "He likes talking dirty and stuff, and he told me that he likes submissive women."


When Ana Marie Cox, then the editor of the popular gossip Web site Wonkette.com, discovered and linked to Cutler's blog, the story spun out of control. Cutler was fired and Steinbuch says he was publicly humiliated. He went to court seeking more than $20 million in damages.


The case is embroiled in thorny pretrial issues, with each side demanding personal information from the other. Steinbuch wants to know how much money Cutler received from the man she called her "sugar daddy." Cutler demanded Steinbuch's student evaluations from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law School, where he teaches.


Steinbuch also recently added Cox as a defendant in the case, though he has not served her with court papers. A trial date has not been set, but Matthew Billips, Cutler's attorney, said there are no settlement talks that might head off a trial.


"I have no idea what he wants," Billips said. "He's never said, 'This is what I think should be done."'


Neither Steinbuch nor his attorney returned phone calls seeking comment. In court, attorney Jonathan Rosen said Steinbuch wants to restore his good name. Students in his legal ethics class all search the Internet and learn about the blog, Rosen said.


"It's not funny and it's damaging," Rosen told a judge. "It's horrible, absolutely horrible."


To win, Steinbuch will have to prove that the details of their sexual relationship were private and publishing them was highly offensive. Billips argues that Cutler never intended to make the blog public but, in the information age, data is easily copied and distributed beyond its intended audience.


If the case goes to trial, its outcome will be important both to bloggers and to people who chronicle their lives on social-networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said he may teach the Washingtonienne case this spring during his class at Georgetown Law School.


"Anybody who wants to reveal their own private life has a right to do that. It's a different question when you reveal someone else's private life," he said, adding that simply calling something a diary doesn't make it one. "It's not sitting in a nice, leather-bound book under a pillow. It's online where a million people can find it."


Rotenberg asked, what if Cutler had secretly videotaped the encounters and sold the videos without Steinbuch's consent? There has to be a line somewhere, he said.


Since being fired, Cutler moved back to New York, wrote a novel based on the scandal, posed nude for Playboy and started a new Web site, where she solicits donations "for slutty clothes and drugs."


She wouldn't discuss the case but said she's amazed by what has happened.


"The fact that anyone was interested in the first place was a surprise," she said. "The fact that there was a lawsuit in the first place was a surprise. That it's still going on is a surprise."


U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman was surprised, too.


"I don't know why we're here in federal court to begin with," Friedman told attorneys for both sides in April. "I don't know why this guy thought it was smart to file a lawsuit and lay out all of his private, intimate details."


In that sense, the Washingtonienne lawsuit has become a study into when to make a federal case out of something and when to just let it go away. It's a question lawyers wrestle with all the time.


Lanny Davis, the former special counsel to President Clinton who now advises companies during times of crisis, tells clients to decide whether they want justice or simply to set the record straight and get a message across.


"If you're looking for justice, the court system is the only thing you have," Davis said. "If you're looking to get the full story, good and bad, into one coherent narrative, the court system is perhaps the worst possible forum."







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Chess player caught cheating with wireless device


NEW DELHI, India (Reuters) -- An Indian chess player has been banned for 10 years for cheating after he was caught using his mobile phone's wireless device to win games, chess officials said on Wednesday.


The player, Umakant Sharma, had logged rating points at a rapid pace in the last 18 months and also qualified for the national championship, arousing the suspicion of officials and bemusing rivals.


Sharma was finally caught at a recent tournament when officials discovered that he had stitched a Bluetooth device in a cloth cap which he always pulled over his ears.


He communicated to his accomplices outside the hall, who then used a computer to relay moves to him, Indian chess federation secretary D.V. Sundar said on Wednesday.


"We have banned him for 10 years," he told Reuters. "We wanted to send a clear message to such people."


Chess officials were also probing whether another player had similar advantages through such illegal means, he added.








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Interview with Steve Rubel


Steve Rubel is a senior marketing strategist and expert on conversational marketing. In 2004 he started Micro Persuasion, a blog that focuses on how blogging affects the public relations industry. Visit his blog here.


What is your background, and how did your interests in business, blogging, and marketing develop?


Other than a brief detour after college, I have been working in the PR industry my entire career. I have also been enamored with technology for more than 25 years. My first computer was an Atari 800 which my Dad and I programmed in Basic together. I have been online actively since the late 1980s.


I've always been a net junkie and started reading blogs and RSS feeds around 2003. Two of the first blogs I discovered were Dave Winer's and Robert Scoble's. They are two of my faves today. I was working at a small agency and saw an opportunity to get two of my clients blogging in early 2004. They had a lot of success with it. It helped them get more media coverage and from there I was hooked.


I started my own blog a few months later and my interest for democratized media has only expanded dramatically since. It's by far my #1 passion and I spend probably 80% of my waking time on activities related to learning about this revolution and thinking/speaking/acting on it to help Edelman and our clients prosper from it. My blog is part of this process.


How can a startup company use blogging effectively?


Although it's harder than it used to be to get noticed, startups can use blogging and other forms of technology to become part of the water cooler conversations that are relevant to their business. The key is not only to talk about your product/service but to connect to higher order themes that the community is talking about daily. Then you need to find a way to add value to that conversation in a meaningful way.


From your personal experience as a blogger, what advice do you have for people looking to start a blog?


Micro Persuasion has taken me to places I never dreamed possible. If I knew it was going to help me get this fantastic role at Edelaman (which I love), attain more media recognition than perhaps anyone deserves and connect me with titans of business I probably would have been too chicken to start it! Most of all, it keeps me sharp. My readers challenge me to be my best. It is how I learn.


The best advice I can offer - and this isn't just for blogging - is to find a passion for a dream and then develop the work ethic to make it come true. My life and work passions are aligned so I never feel like blogging is work. I pound the blog rock every day because it's aligned with my personality, lifestyle and interests. That's true for many people who have been successful.


What is the most useful piece of advice someone has given you?


The most useful advice I get, believe it or not, is from people I have never met. I immerse myself studying the work habits and personalities of leaders from business and other walks of life. I devour everything I can get my hands on - books, video, articles, etc. It's an eclectic mix. Everyone from Arnold Shwarznegger, Mark Cuban to Google's Marissa Mayer to Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Avery Johnson (coach of the Dallas Mavericks) to Bill Clinton, Ben Franklin, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are studied in detail. I feel like they're on my personal board of directors! I throw these articles into a database and refer to them in different situations. It's too hard to pick up one thing but some key traits emerge: charisma, guts, passion, work ethic, organizational skills, people skills, leadership, ability to handling adversity and more.


What are some mistakes you've made that others could learn and benefit from?


I have a tendency to worry too much - obsessively. A lot of it are fears that aren't justified and partially imagined stuff. I've gotten better over the years, but it's still hard to turn off. I think a lot of people have this inner worry wort inside them that is hard to silence. Perhaps people will take comfort in knowing that they're part of the same club. The key is to recognize what's real and what's imagined. I am getting better at that every day. Adversity helps.


If you could go back ten or fifteen years, is there anything you would do differently, knowing what you know now?


I really have had no regrets in my life. I had a chance to experience the first Internet boom up close and then the bust. So it's fun to see the enthusiasm reviving again. Perhaps what I would have done differently is applied my love for the Net sooner than I did, but I don't feel like that caused me to lose too much time so far.






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The Five Key Missteps Microsoft Made with the Vista Blogger Fiasco


I’ve been giving some thought to why Microsoft’s attempt to reach out to bloggers, by sending them free Vista-loaded laptops, went horribly wrong.


I know that hindsight is 20/20, but as a business blogging consultant, here’s the five mistakes that I believe led to such a negative response from the blogosphere.


1. Microsoft (and Edelman) was not clear in its message to bloggers. They sent out these fully-loaded, top of the line laptops to bloggers without being clear what exactly they expected from them. Did they want bloggers to review Vista? Were they expecting bloggers to disclose the gift? Would there be a follow-up from MSFT to learn flaws about Vista on laptops? The message was clearly too ambiguous as some bloggers shared news of the ”gift” with their readers, while others didn’t.



2. The “gift” was far too extravagant. If you want to send someone a copy of Vista to test, ask them if they already have a computer to test it on! Sending bloggers a $2,000+ laptop smacks of bribery. What’s next, Goodyear sending auto bloggers their latest tires fitted to a brand new Porsche?



3. They targeted the elite and the masses revolted. When you send out an expensive gift to a small selection of bloggers, those left out are the ones who tend to hold you the most accountable. The recipients of the expensive laptops were not the ones criticizing Microsoft, it was the bloggers who were left out that turned this initiative sour. Why? One reason may be because they didn’t get a $2k laptop, so felt it their duty to hold the recipients to a high standard. The blogosphere sees all and knows all. They are quick to judge and if something smells like a bribe, they’ll let you know.



4. Microsoft (Edelman) panicked in their follow-up. Once the blogosphere passed judgement, Microsoft tried to back-track on the gift. It was now no longer something that the recipient could keep. They had to either give it away or send it back. There’s so many things wrong with this response:

* It suggests you did send the gift as a bribe and are now trying to back-track because you were caught.

* It alienates the bloggers you sent the gift to in the first place. You’ve made them look like schmucks.

* The same blogosphere that questioned the gift, now smells blood. MSFT’s weakness, and failure to explain the outreach, adds fuel to the questions being raised.



5. They failed to realize you can’t control the blogosphere. I mentioned this in my earlier post, but it’s worth repeating - PR firms should not try and control the blogosphere. When you get too clever in your PR efforts, you risk this kind of backlash. Certainly you should look to reach out to bloggers and ask for their input, opinion and critique, but you should never try and manipulate them. Bloggers know that their peers are holding them to the highest levels of transparency and credibility. A $2,000 laptop is not enough for most bloggers to risk losing the respect and trust of their readers and their fellow bloggers.


So, there’s my thoughts on where Microsoft and Edelman went wrong. Would I have done things differently? As I said, hindsight is easy, but I’d like to think I would have avoided most of the problems I’ve outlined above.


Now over to you. What other errors did MSFT make along the way. Maybe if we all share our thoughts, they (and other companies) can learn from this fiasco.








100 Billion Reasons to Celebrate this Year


comScore Networks reports that online retail spending reached $100 billion for the year as of Saturday, December 23. It looks like procrastinators placed their faith in expedited shipping, as the last business week before Christmas saw $2.25 billion in eCommerce.


2006 year-to-date spending was up by 26% over 2005, but the last week before Christmas increased 38% over the same period in 2005.





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