Deadly wave heads for Brisbane The Australian
The nation confronts its worst flood disaster in living memory, with 30 people believed dead and 78 missing in southeast Queensland. The wall of water bearing down on Brisbane threatens to engulf thousands of homes and put more people at risk. The official death toll from the flash flooding that ripped through Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley on Monday stands at 10, with half the victims children, but Julia Gillard warned that this was bound to increase. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the number of suspected deaths was twice or more the confirmed toll. A senior emergency official told The Australian more than 30 people had died, including nine whose bodies had been located but not yet recovered.
Piracy websites attract billions of visits BBC
A study by anti-fraud firm MarkMonitor has offered a snapshot into the changing nature of online piracy. It monitored illegal traffic levels on 43 file-sharing sites and found that they generated more than 53 billion visits per year. The top three – RapidShare.com, Megavideo.com and Megaupload.com – generated more than 21 billion visits. Such sites are becoming as popular as peer-to-peer methods of accessing illegal content. The study only used a small sample of sites suggesting that the problem could be in fact much bigger. “The numbers are staggering,” said Charlie Abrahams, vice president of MarkMonitor. The study was put together following requests from the US Chamber of Commerce to identify trends and rogue sites.
Twitter’s Response to WikiLeaks Subpoena Should Be the Industry Standard Wired
Twitter introduced a new feature last month without telling anyone about it, and the rest of the tech world should take note and come up with their own version of it. Twitter beta-tested a spine. On Friday it emerged that the U.S. government recently got a court order demanding that Twitter turn over information about a number of people connected to WikiLeaks, including founder Julian Assange, accused leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning, former WikiLeaks spokeswoman Birgitta Jonsdottir, and WikiLeaks activist Jacob Appelbaum. The request was approved by a magistrate judge in Alexandria, Virginia where a federal grand jury is looking into charges against WikiLeaks related to its acquisition and publishing of U.S. government classified information. The court order came with a gag order that prevented Twitter from telling anyone, especially the target of the order, about the order’s existence. To Twitter’s credit, the company didn’t just open up its database, find the information the feds were seeking (such as the IP and e-mail addresses used by the targets) and quietly continue on with building new features. Instead the company successfully challenged the gag order in court, and then told the targets that their data was being requested, giving them time to try and quash the order themselves.
Virginia Poised to Ban Teacher-Student Texting, Facebooking ReadWriteWeb
There’s no real consensus here. “No, never.” “Maybe, sometimes.” “Yes, but responsibly.” Nonetheless many schools and districts are drafting policies that dictate how school staff can interact with students via new networks and technologies – in many cases, restricting or banning student-teacher interactions. Such is the case with a set of guidelines, set to be voted on this week by the Virginia Board of Education, that will establish the state’s policy for how students and teachers can interact via text-messaging, social networking, and online gaming. In a nutshell: they can’t.
Grade 8 boy hacks school system QMI Agency
A Catholic school board has taken action after learning a young hacker in accessed confidential records, including provincial test scores. John Mackle, education director at the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board, said the Grade 8 pupil at St. Anne’s School in Peterborough’s north end found his way — via his laptop, a piece of downloaded software and the board’s internal network — into a board file server containing provincewide test results. “To be honest, I don’t know that he would have understood what he was seeing,” Mackle said. “The information that he was able to see wouldn’t have made a lot of sense to him.“
Official: MySpace Cuts 500, 47% Of Staff Hypebot
In an official statement today, MySpace CEO Mike Jones confirmed that about 500 employees will be cut globally. ‘With our recent relaunch as an entertainment destination for Gen Y, we introduced a much tighter focus, a significantly streamlined product and an updated technology platform,’ according to Jones. The cuts come at the same time that parent NewsCorp has been publicly searching for a buyer for MySpace.
Cyber sex on offer as adult industry adapts Sydney Morning Herald
Porn fans are being enticed with cyber sex and virtual affairs as the adult entertainment industry adapts to survive in the Internet Age. Trends at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo that ends Sunday in Las Vegas included Internet video streamed wirelessly to televisions; remote-controlled intimacy, and augmented reality. Technology themes at the event echoed those at the Consumer Electronics Show gadget extravaganza taking place at the nearby Las Vegas Convention Center. Porn producers had software applications to deliver pictures and videos to smartphones or tablet computers. Online services touted high-definition movies streamed on-demand using the Internet. Films were going 3D. “It is absolutely vital that we keep up with the latest technology,” said Kim Kysar of adult entertainment studio Pink Visual. “If you don’t adapt you get left behind.”
Giffords breathing on her own: doctor CBC
Doctors in Tucson, Ariz., say that U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is now able to breathe on her own after the weekend shooting that left six people dead and Giffords and 13 others wounded. The attack took place Saturday at a public meeting being held by the Democratic representative outside a Tucson grocery store. Giffords was shot in the head and remains in critical condition at the University of Arizona Medical Center. Doctors have said a single bullet appears to have entered Giffords’s head from the back, passed throught the left side of her brain and exited, fracturing bone near her left eye socket.
Science shouldn’t stand in the way of sound smoking policy: study Postmedia News
A new study is urging lawmakers not to let science get in the way of sound policy when it comes to laws on children’s exposure to second-hand smoke in cars. Smoking in cars carrying children should be banned whether or not science can prove exactly how risky it is, according to an article penned by Ray Pawson of the University of Leeds and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It’s a call that’s already been answered by eight Canadian provinces and territories that have outlawed the practice. Nova Scotia was the first to ban smoking in cars with children, introducing its bill in 2007.
Cops raid homes to stub out smoking Reuters
Bhutan police can raid homes of smokers in a search for contraband tobacco and are training a special tobacco sniffer dog in a crackdown to honour a promise to become the world’s first smoke-free nation. Buddhist Bhutan, where smoking is considered bad for one’s karma, banned the sale of tobacco in 2005, but with a thriving tobacco smuggling operation from neighbouring India, the ban failed to make much of an impact. But legislation passed in the new year, granting police powers to enter homes, is set to stub out the habit, threatening five years in jail for shopkeepers selling tobacco and smokers who fail to provide customs receipts for imported cigarettes.
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First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi
World War III will be a global information war with no division between civilian & military participation ~ Marshall McLuhan
Net access blocked by government restrictions? Use Psiphon from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. Go here for details.