Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

We’re actually having an OTP this week.
The last two Thursdays have been festival days (Yamim Tovim), and that means no blogging, and thus no comment moderation to aprove trackbacks.
At any rate, you all know how it works.
Link to this post, and send a trackback, and your links will show up at the end of the post.
Also, I’m hosting the New Blog Showcase on 8 May.
in order to qualify, blogs must be three months old or newer.
If you want to participate, please send all submissions to arush06 [at] earthlink [dot] net.
You can also use the multi-carnival submission form to submit posts.
I hope to be able to include lots of new blogs in the post, and all blogs included will be linked and trackbacked by me.
All I require is that you return the favor.
Everybody enjoy, and feel free to take as much advantage of the free exposure as you want.

As seen at:
The New Blog Showcase,
Linkfest Haven,
TMH’s Bacon Bits,
Quietly Making Noise,

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Associated Press

Apr 23, 2006 10:56 AM (ET)


CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) – Del Mar College students now have to use
computers outside the school’s system if they want to visit the
popular Web
site MySpace.com.

The community college has blocked the site in response to complaints
sluggish Internet speed on campus computers.

An investigation found that heavy traffic at MySpace.com was eating up
much bandwidth, said August Alfonso, the school’s chief of information
technology. Forty percent of daily Internet traffic at the college
the site, he said.

“This was more about us being able to offer Web-based instruction, and
MySpace.com was slowing everything down,” President Carlos Garcia

MySpace.com – a social networking hub with more 72 million members –
users to post searchable profiles that can include photos of
themselves and
such details as where they live and what music they like.

Paul Martinez, 20, is a frequent visitor to MySpace.com and finds the
to be addictive. Restricting access to the site could be a good idea,
he said.

“The library is pretty much full with people on MySpace, and with them
banning it you won’t have anything to distract you,” he said.

Some though, disagree with Del Mar College’s decision.

“We pay for school and the resources that are used,” said Zeke Santos,
“It’s our choice, we’re the ones paying for our classes. If we pass or
fail, it’s up to us.”

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Story last modified Fri Apr 21 05:30:35 PDT 2006

More spam is now relayed from Asia than any other continent, according to the latest research from security company Sophos.

And all the while I thought Europe was responsible.

Asia accounts for 42.8 percent of the spam received by Sophos’ global spam monitoring network, with North America in second place with 25.6 percent, the
company said on Thursday.

Two years ago, North America was responsible for more than half of the world’s spam, Sophos said. Now North and South America combined don’t come close
to Asia’s percentage, said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the security provider.
Cluley added that Europe is also becoming a major relayer of spam and now transmits almost as much as North America, with 25 percent. “I won’t be surprised
if Europe overtakes North America next month,” he said.

On a country-by-country basis, the U.S. still relays most spam, with 23.1 percent. China and Hong Kong come second with 21.9 percent of global spam, while
South Korea is third at 9.8 percent.

China has many computers running older versions of Microsoft Windows, which contributes to the levels of spam, as machines running older versions of the operating
system are more easily exploited by spammers.
South Korea is a particularly tempting target for spammers, as a result of its advanced technology infrastructure and the economic rewards of setting up
networks of zombie computers, or Botnets Sophos said.

“South Korea has a fantastic Internet structure with immensely fast connections, and so it is a goldmine for spammers wanting to create botnets,” Cluley

A ZDNet UK research report released this week found that despite advances made in security technology, there has been little or no reduction in the time IT professionals are spending trying to protect
their business systems from issues such as spam and viruses.
This is why the leaches responsible for clogging up the ‘net with spam really need to be taken out and shot once convicted.
They’re doing nothing but causing lots of problems for everyone.
“The top 10 viruses in the past 10 months are really old, which suggests the human race isn’t winning the war against viruses and spam,” Cluley said. “Some
people just simply aren’t bothered, and they are the ones bombarding the rest of us.”

However, Cluley said that Microsoft has made some big differences with XP Service Pack 2. The security-themed update to Windows has made it harder for hackers
to break into Windows systems, because a rudimentary firewall and automatic updates are enabled by default, he said.
in other words, Microsoft is holding the hand of every clueless consumer who doesn’t have enough sense to protect their shiny new computer from the bastards responsible for making our lives difficult.
There needs to be some sort of penalty for that kind of stupidity.
Antivirus company McAfee agreed that security vendors and cybercriminals were locked into a stalemate.

“It’s almost like a game of chess,” said Greg Day, security analyst at McAfee. “Spammers try to put our customers in check. We put pieces on the board to
block them, then they make their next move,” he added.

McAfee and Sophos agreed that spam was unlikely to disappear, and called for Internet service providers, businesses and home users to run antispam software.
I can’t believe people still have to be told to do something that simple.
Haven’t people figured out that they have to take an active role in protecting themselves from the junk email they’re complaining about flooding their inboxes?

ISPs have traditionally been reluctant to block any kind of content, although most of the major players now have some form of antivirus protection for their

“It’s an issue we’ve been working on,” Day said. “Every person has to protect their own space. But there’s a lot of common sense in moving a security level
up into the cloud,” or in the space surrounding users and ISPs, Day added.

McAfee and Sophos also applauded the recent arrests of spammers, but said that more needed to be done in terms of international law enforcement cooperation.

“When the prosecutions hit the streets, there was a visible downtrend in spam. But these aren’t global laws. It’s a step in the right direction, but there’s
definitely scope to work on this,” Day said.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

By Patrik Jonsson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
ATLANTA – To critics of the administration’s immigration policies, the Department of Homeland Security sent out a strong message this week: Current laws
can discourage illegal immigrants and those who hire them.

On Wednesday, federal immigration officials stormed light manufacturing facilities in Atlanta and 41 other US locales, arresting more than 1,100 suspected
illegal immigrants as well as people believed to have hired them.

Impacts of immigration reform

On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced a refocusing of resources that would target employers “harboring aliens for illegal
advantages.” The initiative is an attempt to go after such employers with the same intensity applied to other criminal organizations.

“[Wednesday’s arrests] are symbolically very important and may suggest either a testing of this particular variation of immigration policy or it may indicate
a movement in a more punitive direction to try to prevent or limit the inflow of undocumented workers,” says Dan Cornfield, a Vanderbilt University sociologist
and editor of the “Work and Occupations” journal. “It’s a message that the US, right now, won’t condone that type of employer behavior.”

The massive raids on Wednesday netted 1,187 arrests, more than all illegal immigrants arrested last year.

In 2005, officials arrested 150 suspected illegal immigrants, mostly at North Carolina military installations. Just over 100 people have been arrested this
year in smaller stings, one at a Missouri construction site, the other at a New Jersey car wash.

Arrests timed to announcement

Wednesday’s arrests were apparently timed to an announcement by Mr. Chertoff and the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Julie Myers, in Washington
on Thursday.

Secretary Chertoff said the effort is aimed at those who are “exploiting illegal aliens” and “who adopt as a business model the systematic violation of
immigration laws.” The federal government will “make sure we come down as hard as possible.”

The hiring of undocumented immigrants was the focus of legislation passed by the House of Representatives last year, including increased penalties for those
who break the law and a national system for electronically verifying worker status.

The federal government is making other, quieter efforts to respond to the public outcry over the surge in illegal immigration during the decade.

Atlanta recently saw the arrival of 70 extra federal agents to clear a backlog of naturalization requests, some going back 10 years. It’s all part of a
quiet movement on the federal government to heed public outcry, some say.

“There’s little doubt that something is going to happen, because the public is demanding it now,” says Maritza Pichon, executive director of the Latin American
Association in Atlanta.

Though there are some “bad actors” who exploit workers and the law, most businesses that hire illegals are complying with federal law, industry groups say.
The problem is that many illegals carry fraudulent documentation. New rules will tighten up requirements on employers.

Stricter enforcement “is an effort to create an environment that allows broader reforms to move forward,” says Craig Regelbrugge, co-chair of the Agriculture
Coalition for Immigration Reform in Washington.

But “I’d rather see resources short-term going into [battling] organized human smuggling and exploitation as opposed to putting all of America’s dairy farms
out of business that have an immigrant workforce and that have met their responsibilities under the law,” he says.

Parallels with prohibition

“This situation is not much different than the prohibition era,” he adds. “You have well intended and poorly conceived laws that spawn organized criminal
activity and make lawbreakers out of otherwise contributing and law-abiding people.”

Others see it as a piecemeal attempt by a White House and Congress who have been negligent in addressing a problem that has developed in front of Americans’
eyes over the past 10 years.

“In a world where illegals can register kids for school, where state police stop them on speeding violations and don’t tell federal authorities, the reality
is it’s very difficult for the federal government to do this alone,” says Peter Morici, a labor economist at the University of Maryland in College Park.
“Politicians are very happy to hammer on employers, but they’re not willing to take actions within their grasp” to pass comprehensive reform, he says.

The arrests Wednesday, which spanned nine states, netted hundreds of rank-and-file workers as well as seven current and former executives of IFCO Systems,
a manufacturer of crates and pallets. The executives were charged with harboring and transporting and encouraging illegal workers to reside in the US.
Because it was called a “criminal investigation,” Ms. Pichon says there are few signs that such investigations are likely to target undocumented day laborers.

What’s problematic for politicians is that Americans are torn over whether to uproot what are usually solid, hardworking families or demand a law-abiding
society, immigration experts say.

But few observers believe this week’s action represents more than a drop in the bucket in the battle to stem the flow of illegal immigration.

“If you’re talking about people coming into the US, the stream of immigrants, both legal and illegal, will continue, because these the need for economic
and social improvement overrides any fears” of arrest, says Rudy Rodriguez, a professor at the University of North Texas in Denton.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

April 13, 2006

THERE WAS ANTIQUITIES DEALER Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos, coming off like an angel on the National Geographic Channel’s special TV program on the Gospel of
Judas. “I think I was chosen by Judas to rehabilitate him,” says Tchacos, who bought the 1,700-year-old papyrus. “Judas was asking me to do something for

Tchacos was doing something for herself as well. She had paid $300,000 for the papyrus and — despite concerns that it might have been looted and thus had
illegally entered the shadowy world of private antiquities dealing — resold it to her lawyer for $1.5 million plus half the proceeds from any future use.
National Geographic didn’t tell that part of Tchacos’ story.

Nor did National Geographic inform viewers that it paid $1 million for the right to publicize the papyrus, and that a portion of the proceeds from the show
and two related books would go to the lawyer and, through him, to Tchacos, whose past includes a suspended sentence for possession of looted antiquities.

The Gospel of Judas tells a riveting story that many people find new. It says that Jesus asked Judas to betray him, thus setting the Passion into motion.
But the gospel’s provenance shows that some things don’t change in a couple of millenniums — except for inflation. Thirty pieces of silver then, or $1.5
million now: It’s still about money.

There are laws against trafficking in antiquities whose legal ownership cannot be documented. So Tchacos’ lawyer, Mario Jean Roberty, could not sell the
actual papyrus. Instead, he came up with the thoroughly modern concept of selling the content instead, and he found a taker in National Geographic.

Ordinarily, the discovery of something like the Judas gospel would be announced in a scholarly publication as a probable addition to the Gnostic Gospels
— early Christian writings that were rejected by the church hierarchy. Instead, National Geographic gave it a public splash that rang more of commercial
zing than scholarly thoughtfulness, with a glitzy TV special, two books and an exhibit timed for the week before Easter.

The papyrus was breathlessly described as possibly turning Christianity on its head. And the codex is an exciting archeological find. But the concept of
Judas playing out a role that he perceives as Jesus’ desire isn’t particularly new, as anyone who ever watched “Jesus Christ Superstar” can attest.

The National Geographic Society’s involvement did help restore the papyrus and bring it to public light — and back to Egypt. But the society’s willingness
to cut deals over a find whose legality is unclear, without being forthright about its role, its associates or the money involved, adds a legitimate sheen
to the shady world of illegal antiquities dealing and helps sustain that unsavory market.

I would also like to add that this find isn’t going to turn Christianity on its head.
The Gnostic Gospels didn’t do it, and neither did the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Gospel of Judas was written far too late to do that, and those who believe that this new gospel will be the undoing of Christianity forget that Christianity is based largely on faith.
In other words, the main tenets of Christianity, (that Jesus died for the sins of mankind, rose from the dead, and is now in heaven, interceding on behalf of those who accept him as their personal savior), are entirely based on the faith of his followers, which is based on what is written in the New Testament.
None of these tenets can be proven or disproven.
Whether or not Judas was commissioned specifically by Jesus to set his Passion in motion is completely irrelevant.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Girls were the cause of the interruption, but Will Smith gets the blame.
Will Smith made a stop at the Western Wall to pray, bringing his security detail with him.
The interruption came when several girls began pushing against the mehitzah (the barrier separating men and women during prayer in Orthodox and very traditional Conservative synagogues).
Smith and his wife placed notes in the cracks of the Wall in accordance with tradition, and Smith also tried to smooth over the interruption by shaking the Bar Matzvah’s hand and posing for a picture.
While I’ll agree that the tefillah was interrupted in a way it never should have been, I disagree with the labelling of Smith and his entourage as the cause.
Clearly, Smith conducted himself as he should, while the girls pressing against the barrier did not.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Long-banished radio bad boys Opie & Anthony are returning to the air
to save
the company that fired them nearly four years ago, sources say.

The toxic twosome, canned by CBS’s WNEW-FM after contestants on one of
shows were caught making love inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, are
to return “within weeks” to the sister station Howard Stern
abandoned –
“Free FM” (92.3), formerly K-Rock, according to the sources.

That means curtains for Stern successor David Lee Roth, who’s been
with CBS over his show’s format after lousy initial ratings.

Opie & Anthony – a k a Gregg Hughes, 41, and Anthony Cumia, 43 – were
No. 1
with men in “afternoon drive” until the St. Pat’s scandal drove them
unregulated XM Satellite Radio 18 months ago.

Stern, a longtime enemy of “O&A,” debuted on rival Sirius Satellite
Radio in

XM is expected to continue to air O&A while syndicating them –
carrying both
a sanitized, “FCC-compatible” version for Roth’s seven CBS stations as
as a shorter, free-wheeling version for anything-goes XM. The
arrangement means radio’s highest-rated rebels will finally go head to
with Stern.

Ironically, Opie & Anthony will expand their potential audience
massively by
adding conventional stations in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and
while Stern’s current satellite-radio audience is only about a tenth
of what
it was on more than three dozen “terrestrial” stations.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Documents are sought from Clear Channel, CBS, Entercom and Citadel,
say. The agency’s step comes after settlement talks stall.

By Charles Duhigg
LA Times Staff Writer

April 20, 2006

The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday launched formal
investigations into pay-for-play practices at four of the nation’s
radio corporations, the biggest federal inquiry into radio bribery
the congressional payola hearings of 1960.

Two FCC officials with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed that
agency had requested documents from Clear Channel Communications Inc.,
Radio Inc., Entercom Communications Corp. and Citadel Broadcasting
over allegations that radio programmers had received cash, checks,
and other gifts in exchange for playing certain songs without
revealing the
deals to listeners, a violation of federal rules.

The FCC requests, known formally as “letters of inquiry,” are the
step in investigations that could result in sanctions ranging from
financial penalties to the revocation of stations’ licenses.

An FCC spokeswoman declined to comment. Representatives of the four
companies could not be reached for comment.

In the past, radio executives at firms including Clear Channel, the
nation’s largest station owner, have said that company policies
accepting gifts for airplay and that internal probes have not revealed
widespread wrongdoing.

The four broadcasters have been negotiating with the FCC for weeks to
forestall a federal inquiry by offering to discontinue certain
and pay limited fines. But those talks stalled last month over the
issue of
how much the broadcasters should pay.

Clear Channel proposed a fine of about $1 million, according to people
knowledge of the negotiations. Some commissioners were pushing for as
as $10 million, those sources said.

“We were in the process of trying to reach settlements, but when talks
inconclusive, we decided we needed more information,” said an FCC
who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was
continuing. “We will continue to speak with the parties and to hold
who have violated commission rules accountable.”

The FCC requires that radio listeners be informed anytime there is an
exchange of items of value for airplay of specific songs.

The FCC’s action comes amid New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer’s
pay-for-play probe, launched in 2004, which has alleged wrongdoing by
music and radio companies. In February, Spitzer sued Entercom,
that high-ranking executives had implemented scams to trade cash for
airplay of songs by such artists as Avril Lavigne, Liz Phair and

Entercom has denied the allegations.

The other three radio companies are also under investigation by
who has shared his evidence with the FCC.

Radio programmers at stations around the country say that fear of
regulatory scrutiny has scared them into airing fewer new songs.
many stations are sticking to less diverse playlists.

Bryan Tramont, who served as chief of staff to former FCC Chairman
K. Powell and is now an attorney in private practice, said the inquiry
appeared to be more than a fishing expedition.

“The FCC would only launch a formal investigation if they had
leading them to believe possible violations have occurred,” he said.

Other FCC insiders said this new stage of investigation could put
broadcasters more at risk of previously undiscovered evidence of
being found. The investigation could give the FCC access to millions
previously unexamined documents. It could also expand to include
and radio executives across the nation.

“Until now, we’ve been limited to the evidence Spitzer gave us, but a
formal investigation will compel the radio companies to answer certain
questions, which are usually pretty exhaustive,” said another current
official familiar with the inquiry. “It will all be on the record now,
once we start demanding documents, we can keep on going until we’re
convinced we’ve found everything.”

Spitzer has been critical of the FCC’s negotiations with radio
saying that if the federal government allowed stations to settle it
undercut his efforts to force tougher sanctions and rules on the

“Unfortunately the FCC, contrary to good public policy, has not
pursued an
investigation of the underlying facts,” Spitzer said in April. His
representative could not be reached for comment.

The last time the FCC took action on pay-for-play allegations was in
when it fined two stations in Texas and Michigan $4,000 each for not
disclosing payments received from A&M Records in exchange for playing
by Bryan Adams.

But the investigation launched Wednesday was evidence of the FCC’s
vigilance, said federal officials.

“The chairman has always taken these allegations seriously,” said one
official, referring to FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin. “We’re not
about criticisms.”

The FCC’s new investigation is the largest federal radio bribery
since Congress opened hearings on pay-for-play in 1960. Those
resulted in the first federal “payola” laws and killed the career of
disc jockey Alan Freed, who pleaded guilty to two counts of commercial
bribery and was fined $300.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

By Caroline E. Mayer
Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, April 19, 2006; D02


Debt collectors are asking the Federal Communications Commission for
permission to use automated dialers to call a debtor’s cellphone about
overdue bills.

ACA International, the trade association that represents collectors,
federal rules formerly permitted collection agencies to call
using a computerized system that stores and dials numbers. But a
change in
FCC rules in 2003 barred collectors from using such technology to call
cellphones. They may use dialers to call land lines, but they must
cellphones manually.

Earlier this month, the FCC said it would review the request and
public comments which are due next month. Its review comes as
about debt collectors continue to mount.

The Federal Trade Commission last week issued its annual report on the
collection industry, showing consumer complaints rising to a high of
in 2005, up 13.5 percent from 58,698 in 2004. More complaints were
about debt collection than any other industry. They accounted for 19.1
percent of all complaints filed with the FTC in 2005, up from 17
percent of
all complaints in 2004.

The FTC said that, given the millions of collection calls made to
each year, the number of complaints it received is a “small percentage
the overall number of consumer contacts.” However, it said it thought
number of consumers who complain is only a “relatively small
percentage of
the total number of consumers who actually encounter problems with

The debt-collection association argues that the FCC ban on cellphone
was inadvertent, part of the commission’s attempt to curtail abusive
telemarketing calls by auto-dialers that randomly or sequentially

The ACA says collectors don’t dial randomly, but rather selectively
consumers who owe money. “We’re not buying lists of consumers just to
them for the fun of it; we’re not looking for cellphone numbers we
have,” said Rozanne M. Andersen, the ACA’s general counsel. Andersen
that creditors and collectors have the cellphone numbers because
provided them when they applied for credit.

Not being able to call cellphones with auto-dialers will be “extremely
detrimental to the industry and consumers,” she said. According to the
6 percent of U.S. households now rely exclusively on wireless service,
from 1.2 percent in 2001. “We have generations of people moving
to cellphones, and there is no practical way for creditors and debt
collectors to communicate with them,” she said. The ACA says creditors
could lose billions of dollars annually if the rule is not changed.

The National Consumer Law Center, a public-interest consumer advocacy
group, has already filed an objection to the ACA’s petition, saying
consumers will be “hard pressed to see the benefit” because the
automatically placed calls will use up high-cost daytime minutes. The
added that a consumer giving a cellphone number when applying for
shouldn’t be considered as giving permission to a debt collector to
that number later.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

We actually have some work-related, non-Jaws-help-quotation news.
Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out.
The client sent a URL for me to try, but the syntax is bad.
They had spaces throughout the whole thing.
I tried replacing the spaces with %20, (you can’t have spaces in URLs), but that didn’t work either.
I learned that you can’t have spaces in URLs way back in my “intro to Windows” (it was actually Introduction to Computers), in my freshman year of college.
If this was passed to the go-between by the actual programmers, then we’re in big trouble.