Kerik nominated as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security

Thursday, December 2, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. President George W. Bush nominated Bernard B. Kerik, the police commissioner of the New York Police Department during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, to succeed Tom Ridge as the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Kerik resigned as police commissioner two months following the terrorist attacks, citing the desire to spend more time with his family, but has since kept a very high profile. Following the invasion of Iraq, he chose to lead the training of Iraqi law enforcement. He campaigned for President George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election and delivered a prime time speech at the Republican National Convention.

Among other security qualifications, he has served in the U.S. Army, as narcotics detective in the NYPD and as private security worker in Saudi Arabia.

Kerik faces the daunting task of running the DHS, an agency assembled from 22 other agencies with over 180,000 employees.

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Microsoft claims 235 patent breaches by open source software

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Software giant Microsoft’s chief lawyer Brad Smith claimed in an interview published in the magazine Fortune on Monday that open-source software products violate 235 of Microsoft’s patents. The main transgressors are claimed to be Linux (107 patents) and (45), with e-mail programs infringing 15 patents. Microsoft wants royalties to compensate for the patent breaches.

According to Microsoft’s Vice-President of intellectual property and licensing, Horacio Gutierrez, the company wants to negotiate with the open-source companies rather than sue them. “If we wanted to litigate we would have done that a long time ago. Litigation is not an effective way of going about solutions,” Gutierrez said. According to him, Microsoft has over the last years tried to work towards a “constructive” solution to the alleged problem of patent violation.

Microsoft in the past has used the strategy of cross-licensing to get royalties from companies who infringe their patents, for example in their deal with Novell. On a company blog, Novell reiterated that their deal “is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property.”

“We don’t think that customers will want to continue on without a solution to the problem,” Gutierrez said about Microsoft’s approach to guaranteeing companies that they won’t get sued because they use the allegedly patent-infringing Linux operating system.

The upcoming third version of the GPL licence, the licence under which Linux is released, will prohibit Linux distributors to agree to patent royalty deals. Microsoft called these “attempts to tear down the bridge between proprietary and open-source software that Microsoft has worked to build with the industry and customers.”

A related U.S. Supreme Court ruling from April 30th showed how software patents can be subject to court challenges; basically, if the innovations patented are “obvious”, the patent is weakened. Joe Lindsay, information officer for a mortgage company, pointed out that the Unix code that Linux is based upon preceded Microsoft Windows, which might also be a reason for some patents to be invalid.

Red Hat, the biggest Linux distributor, said in a statement on Monday:

The reality is that the community development approach of free and open source code represents a healthy development paradigm, which, when viewed from the perspective of pending lawsuits related to intellectual property, is at least as safe as proprietary software.

Larry Augustin, former CEO of a company called VA Linux (now VA Software), responsible among other things for launching, an open-source software development community, posted a message on his blog under the title “It’s Time for Microsoft to Put Up or Shut Up”:

If Microsoft believes that Free and Open Source Software violates any of their patents, let them put those patents forward now, in the light of day, where we can all evaluate them on their merits. If not, then stop trying to bully customers into paying royalties to use Open Source.

According to the Fortune report, more than half of the Fortune 500 companies are estimated to use Linux in their data centers.

2011 BRIT Awards highlights

Friday, February 18, 2011

On Tuesday, the 2011 BRIT Awards were presented from The O2 Arena in London, England. This is the first time that the awards ceremony has been hosted from this venue; previously, the regular location for the show was the Earls Court Exhibition Centre, which is also located in London.

The BRIT Awards, presented by the British Phonographic Industry, is an annual ceremony that awards music artists for excellence in music. The BRIT Awards started in 1980; this year’s event is the 31st BRIT Awards. ITV1 broadcasted this year’s programme from 2000-2200 UTC, with British actor and presenter James Corden hosting it.

The ITV1 programme contained performances from various artists, many of which had been nominated for BRIT Awards. The performers and the performances are displayed below but are not in chronological order. They are as follows:

  • Take That – Kidz
  • Adele – Someone Like You
  • Rihanna – Only Girl (In the World) / S&M / What’s My Name?
  • Mumford & Sons – Timshel
  • Plan B – She Said / Prayin’
  • Tinie Tempah, Eric Turner and Labrinth – Written in the Stars / Miami 2 Ibiza / Pass Out
  • Arcade Fire – Ready To Start
  • Cee Lo Green and Paloma Faith – Forget You

British rapper Tinie Tempah was nominated for most awards than any other artist, with ‘Best British Album’ and ‘Best British Male’ included amongst his four nominations. He was given two BRIT awards – one for ‘Best British Single’, which was Pass Out, and the second for ‘Best British Breakthrough Act’. Upon receiving what would turn out to be his first award of two, Tinie Tempah proclaimed: “I want to big up God and my family for sticking by me when times are hard.” Canadian indie rock group Arcade Fire were also successful in achieving two BRIT Awards, one for ‘Best International Group’ and the other for ‘Best International Album’; their album is entitled The Suburbs.

Dermot O’Leary presented an award to British pop group Take That for ‘Best British Group’, the first time the group have ever achieved such an award. While the group received the award, member Mark Owen looked at Robbie Williams, who had recently rejoined Take That, and said: “Can I say thanks for coming back mate. Appreciate it. It’s a real pleasure for the five of us to be up here.” The group had a second nomination for ‘Best British Album’ but were unsuccessful in winning the award.

Cee Lo Green, a member of the group Gnarls Barkley, received one BRIT Award for ‘Best International Male’. In his acceptance speech, he commented: “I’m so excited. Thank you so much for this honour. Such a pleasant surprise.” Cee Lo was also nominated for ‘Best International Album’ but failed to achieve the award.

Roger Daltrey, lead singer of English rock group The Who, humourously commented that “[i]t’s good to see the British music industry still has enough money for a good booze up” before giving the award for ‘Best British Album’ to Mumford & Sons for their album, entitled Sigh No More. Marcus Mumford, of the group, said that “[t]his is very bizarre, very strange. Thank you very much indeed. We are very honoured, very humbled.”

Mark Ronson and Ellie Goulding awarded the ‘Critics’ Choice’ to English singer-songwriter Jessie J. Backstage, Jessie J – who is currently at number one in the UK Singles Chart with her song Price Tag, featuring American rapper B.o.B – remarked that “[p]op stands for popular. I want to be a pop icon and take Britain across the world.”

Plan B, another British rapper, achieved the award for ‘Best British Male’. “There’s a lot of people I could be thanking right now, I wanna thank them all together,” he said during his acceptance speech. Having expressed thanks to various family members, friends, his record labels and the people he had worked with, he concluded his speech with the line: “Thank you, everybody. That’s all.”

Do you think that the awards were given to the right acts?
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Earlier in February 2011, Markus Dravs was given the BRIT Award for ‘Best British Producer’ by Chris Martin, a member of the group Coldplay; Dravs is co-producing a fifth album for the group at present. Dravs was nominated for his work in relation to Arcade Fire album The Suburbs and Mumford & Sons album Sigh No More. “You could hear it in the lyrics and in the commitment in the demos,” he commented. “I really wanted to get involved and see if I could help make the record.”

During the BRIT Awards programme on Tuesday, Cheryl Cole presented the ‘Best International Female’, which was won by Rihanna. The Barbadian pop and R&B singer exclaimed during her acceptance speech: “Britain, I love you! This is so exciting. I want to thank everybody at my label, Mercury […] all my fans here. You guys are the best! I love you so much. This is…this is big. It doesn’t get much bigger than the BRITs, so I love you guys. Thank you so much. This means a lot. I’m the only girl in the world!”

The award for ‘Best International Breakthrough Act’ was given to Justin Bieber, a Canadian pop music / R&B singer. Upon accepting the award, Bieber commented: “I want to thank all my fans over here. You guys are amazing. I want to thank the label over here”. Laura Marling was subsequently awarded ‘Best British Female’. After being presented with the award by Boy George, Marling said: “Thank you. My name’s Laura and there you go, mum. That’s for you and thank you very much to Adam and Laura and everyone at Virgin. This is really weird.”

Shortly after the broadcast of the main programme, performances became available to purchase via iTunes. The The BRIT Trust will receive all of the downloads’ profits as a donation.

Below, all of the recipients of the awards on Tuesday night are available to view in a list, which is not presented in chronological order.

  • Best British Male – Plan B
  • Best British Female – Laura Marling
  • Best British Group – Take That
  • Best British Single – Tinie Tempah – Pass Out
  • Best British Album – Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
  • Best British Producer – Markus Dravs
  • Best British Breakthrough Act – Tinie Tempah
  • Best International Male – Cee Lo Green
  • Best International Female – Rihanna
  • Best International Group – Arcade Fire
  • Best International Album – Arcade FireThe Suburbs
  • Best International Breakthrough Act – Justin Bieber
  • Critics’ Choice – Jessie J

Below is an image gallery displaying library photographs of some of the acts who appeared at the BRIT Awards 2011:

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11

Adele, who sang ‘Someone Like You’, performing in 2007. Image: Mpawsy.

Rihanna, who won ‘Best International Female’ and who sang ‘Only Girl (In the World) / S&M / What’s My Name?’, performing in 2010. Image: Vitorvicentevalente.

Mumford & Sons, who won ‘Best British Album’ for their album ‘Sigh No More’ and who sang ‘Timshel’, performing in 2009. Image: prusakolep.

Plan B, who won ‘Best British Male’ and who sang ‘She Said / Prayin”, performing in 2007. Image: Tony2Times.
Tinie Tempah, who achieved ‘Best British Single’ and ‘Best British Breakthrough Act’, as well as singing ‘Written in the Stars / Miami 2 Ibiza / Pass Out’ alongside Eric Turner and Labrinth, performing in 2010. Image: Göteborg & Co.

File:Rock en Seine 2007, The Arcade Fire.jpg

Arcade Fire, who won ‘Best International Album’ – for their album ‘The Suburbs’ – and ‘Best International Group’, as well as singing ‘Ready To Start’, performing in 2007. Image: Bertrand.

Cee Lo Green, who won ‘Best International Male’ and who sang ‘Forget You’ alongside Paloma Faith, performing in 2008. Image: Chris Hakkens.
Laura Marling, who won ‘Best British Female’, performing in 2007. Image: DearCatastropheWaitress.
Justin Bieber, who won ‘Best International Breakthrough Act’, at the 2010 White House Easter Egg Roll. Image: Daniel Ogren.
Jessie J, who was given the ‘Critics’ Choice’ award, performing in 2008. Image: Lancashire County Council.
Presenter James Corden, seen here at a BBC Radio Wales roadshow in 2008. Image: Ben Salter.

On Wednesday, the news emerged that the BRIT Awards 2011 gained approximately 4.8 million viewers, the smallest viewing figures the show has experienced for five years. The ratings of the ceremony were beaten by the last episode of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings in the series, broadcast on Channel 4 from 2100–2200 UTC on Tuesday; the viewing figures stood at approximately 6.5 million viewers. Holby City, broadcast on BBC One, also attracted more viewers than the BRIT Awards 2011. The programme, which was shown from 2000-2100 UTC, received approximately 5.8 million viewers.

IBM and Cisco in attempt to create a universal platform for communications software development

Friday, March 9, 2007

IBM and Cisco have announced the development of a new platform, based on Eclipse and OSGi (Open Services Gateway initiative), which should unite all communication and collaboration software developers under a single platform.

Before the UC2 (Unified Communication and Collaboration) the unified communication has suffered because of a lack of a platform to be used by all software developers, rather than a series of them and, moreover, provided by different vendors. According to Adam Gartenberg from IBM Lotus Software Group this was the main cause for this partial stagnation.

However, the UC2 is meant to ease the work of software developers. Gartenberg stated that this platform is very flexible and will certainly draw much attention form programmers. They will be able to create different plug-ins and small applications to remotely control other, major application.

The companies have also unveiled a series of their other joint projects. These project will be based on a set of application programming interface from Lotus (SameTime) and Cisco.

The add-ons planned are integration of a series of additional functions and features into the SameTime software from Lotus. Thus, in a few months, the SameTime users will benefit from such functions as click-to-call and voicemail. This will enable easier instant messaging inside the Cisco’s Unified IP phones’ system.

The fact that the platform will be based on Eclipse will make the numerous developers create many communications services, mainly for remote users to benefit from a series of new functions of ERP and CRM applications.

Nortel Networks – a partner of Microsoft since last year and Cisco’s rival in the area – didn’t have much success in the communication services field.

As for Microsoft, the experts are waiting for the reaction of the Bill Gates’ company on the ideas and offers made by IBM and Cisco for enterprise communications and collaboration solutions.

Economic opportunities for women still lagging: World Bank and OECD

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In a recent study released by the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), economic opportunities for women are still lagging behind opportunities for men in the developing world. Improvements have been made in women health and education, according to the study.

The study calls for investments totaling over US$13 billion a year to achieve gender equality and women empowerment.

Danny Leipziger, World Bank Vice President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, said, “gender equality is key for poverty reduction and growth. Progress on women’s education is essential but not enough if we don’t improve women’s access to good jobs and credit lines, to land ownership and to income-generating activities.”

The study Equality for Women: Where Do We Stand on Millennium Development Goal 3? looks at the achievements made by the developing world as laid out by the Millennium Development Goals (MD). These goals are eight international development goals that 189 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. They include halving extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates, fighting disease epidemics such as AIDS, and developing a global partnership for development.

Education has improved in 82 countries out of 122 and are on track to meet their MD goals. However, 19 countries, 13 of which are in Sub- Saharan Africa, are seriously off track to meet their target.

The United Nations will hold a conference on Thursday at the annual session of the UN in New York to discuss the Millennium Development Goals.

Today’s Beauty Salon In Wichita Is Not Your Grandma’s Salon

byAlma Abell

The image of a Beauty Salon in Wichita KS being a small cramped room with rows of old-timey hair dryers and older women gossiping is certainly one of the past, replaced instead with glamorous day spa services that include massages, spray tanning, hair removal, eyebrow and eye lash tinting, professional makeup applications, and of course, every possible hair service possible. Gone are the days when you needed to go to multiple locations for each and every service, supplanted with one-stop service providers such as Anima Bella.

This new brand of Beauty Salon in Wichita KS embraces every race and hair type, also encouraging those who simply need to unwind to come in for a respite. In today’s hectic world, women need an oasis to retreat to for creature comforts; a chance to renew their soul. With conditions such as osteoarthritis and stress-related ailments rampant, it’s no wonder the number of women seeking massages and other relaxing services is on the rise. To meet this demand, salons are incorporating additional services into their menu, giving women added reasons to escape their daily grind.

Relaxation is not the only advantage of day spas; they also offer a woman a chance to glam it up a bit. With complete make-up services offered, complete hair salon offerings and the ability to change the way you look in one day, a woman can come in feeling older than her years and leave sporting the youngest, most hip style and sometimes, an outfit to boot. Yes, some salons these days even offer boutiques with all the latest styles. So, now you can come in for a big date and leave dressed to impress.

While you may still be able to chat some with the patron next to you about your upcoming date or share recipes for the new casserole with the stylist, today’s Beauty Salon in Wichita is far removed from the one your grandmother visited for her weekly hairdo appointment. With a visit to one of today’s relaxation centers, you may feel like you’ve entered another dimension, but that dimension certainly won’t be the past.

Suspended sentence for Sasser worm author

Friday, July 8, 2005

Author of the Sasser worm, Sven Jaschan (19), was convicted today for three cases of computer sabotage and four of illegal data modification, to which he had pleaded guilty at the start of his four-day trial.

The regional court in Verden, Germany, condemned Jaschan to a 21 month suspended sentence. He is also expected to undertake 30 hours of community service and will not have to pay court costs. Public prosecutor Lutz Gaebel had called for 200 hours of community service and a two-year suspended sentence.

Jaschan, an 18 year old computer science student at the time, was arrested in May 2004 after international investigations were launched. He was then released pending trial. The arrest followed tip offs to the police, which may have been prompted by Microsoft’s offer of US$250,000 for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible. He was tried as a minor since he authored Sasser at the age of 17. The trial was held behind closed doors, with details reported to the press by Katharina Krützfeldt, the court spokesperson.

The worm began to spread in April 2004 on Windows XP and Windows 2000 operating systems which had not been patched with MS04-011. The worm hit companies and home users worldwide, with reported cases at Agence France-Presse, Delta Air Lines, HM Coastguard, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Post, Australia Railcorp, and the European Commission.

The BBC reported that the worm had affected millions worldwide, and Heise noted that experts had estimated several million euro worth of damage.

According to various sources Jaschan was ‘fingered’ by a couple of his friends who were after the ‘Microsoft Anti-Virus Reward’ of $250,000 US Dollars. According to Microsoft’s Web site, rewards of $250,000 can still be collected for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for launching the MyDoom.B worm, the Sobig virus and the MSBlast.A [aka Blaster] worm. Furthermore, Microsoft have another $4 Million in hand for rewards required for future malicious software authors they want to have arrested and prosecuted.

U.N. pulls out of southern Somalia

Friday, January 8, 2010

With violence against foreigners escalating daily, and after being deluged with various threats and demands from al-Shabaab, a radical Islamic militant group with ties to al-Qaeda, the United Nations World Food Programme announced on Tuesday that, as of the end of this week, they are going to suspend all of their operations within southern Somalia—including the distribution of desperately needed food aid to Somali civilians. This is now the third humanitarian agency, after CARE International and Doctors Without Borders, to evacuate from the war-torn nation.

The pull out, which will include the closing down of all UN offices and the withdrawal of all local staff, is going to effect over one million Somalis—many of whom relay on this food program for their daily meals.

When asked by the New York Times to further explain the UN’s decision, Peter Smerdon, a spokesperson for the program, said via telephone from Nairobi, Kenya, “In the past few weeks there has been a harder line of unacceptable demands and conditions set by armed groups (such as al-Shabaab) in these areas. We sadly had to make the decision to pull our staff out.”

Smerdon also cited the fact that over forty aid workers have been killed between January 2008 and September 2009, and that four volunteers still remain in the hands of their captors.

Furthermore, when asked how this move by the UN will effect the Somali people, Smerdon said simply, “People will go hungry…you could see malnutrition rates rising [as a result].” When asked by a British newspaper, The Morning Star, the same question, another program representative, Emilia Casella, conveyed like sentiments, “[Those] dependent on food assistance in southern Somalia face a situation that is particularly dire.”

In a nation that—due to civil war—has not had a functioning government in over two decades, Islamic extremists groups—such as al-Shabaab—as well as various warlords and pirate gangs control most of the Horn of Africa nation, except for its besieged capital, Mogadishu, which is protected by African Union and NATO troops in addition to UN peacekeepers.

According to the UN, al-Shabaab—which has direct influence over the area that is going to be effected—presented their offices with numerous lists of demands. Among their demands was that the UN pay Shabaab a $20,000 protection fee every six months, seek Shabaab approval for all their projects, fire their entire female staff, and run their operations according to the militant group’s schedule.

When asked by The Associated Press about the UN’s decision to leave southern Somalia—including his own town of Jilib—Somali civilian and father of eight children, Abdullahi Awnur, said that al-Shabaab is responsible for driving the UN food program away, and that what they are doing is “indirect[ly] killing” innocent people.

Awnur went on to say, “We have been forced to flee from our houses and depend on [UN] food aid, and now that it is finished, that means [al-Shabaab] here does not want us to live.”

Despite all that has been said, al-Shabaab spokesperson, Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, told New York Times reporters that he found these claims to be “baseless” in their origins. He continued by stating that, “All we (al-Shabaab) ordered them (the UN) was to buy food from Somali farmers and distribute it. They (the UN) do not want to do that, and because of that, they have made this very ridiculous justification.” Nevertheless, the UN has noted that even when harvests were good, Somali farmers are only able to supply 30-40% of the food needed to sustain the bulk of the country’s population.

“[Somalia] has been described as the most complex emergency in the world, and perhaps the most dangerous to operate in. However, the world is not hearing this,” say David Gilmour director of CARE International’s Somali branch.

Historic gym the site of Benet Academy, Illinois victory over Oswego

Monday, January 18, 2010

Benet Academy Redwings 40 34 Oswego Panthers

The Benet Academy Redwings boys basketball team defeated the Oswego High School Panthers 40–34 Saturday night at Benet’s historic Alumni Gym. 

Located at Lisle, Illinois, United States, the gymnasium is home to Benet’s winning streak of 102 consecutive home games. The statewide record lasted from November 26, 1975 until January 24, 1987, when Naperville North High School defeated the Redwings 47–46. Benet also achieved 96 consecutive victories in the Western Suburban Catholic Conference at that time. 

The school continued to use the facility, colloquially referred to as the “Old Gym” or the “Small Gym”, until the end of the 1994 season, when a newer athletic center was built on campus. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s when then-coach Marty Gaughan decided to play one game per year in the Alumni Gym to remind the school of its history. “There is just an electricity, and you feel it when you are in there,” said Gaughan, who coached the team from the 1989–1990 season to the 2007–2008 season. 

This tradition continued until the 2006–2007 season, when the Redwings played against long-time rival St. Francis High School. Renovations prevented the gym from being used for athletic events over the past two seasons. This game was Benet coach Gene Heidkamp’s first opportunity to coach in the older gym. “So much history and winning has taken place there, which makes it so special. It is something the entire school community is excited about,” said Heidkamp. 

Saturday’s game was played at the Alumni Gym at the request of Oswego assistant coach Jim Bagley. He wanted his son, senior forward Chris Bagley, to experience the same atmosphere he had as he played for Benet in the 1978–1979 season. Greg Kwiatkowski was also Jim Bagley’s teammate in Benet, and his son, Joe Kwiatkowski, was in the Panthers’ starting lineup as well. “Two of us who played at Benet together and now our son’s play on [Oswego] together and for them to have a chance to play where we played is going to be a great night and great experience,” said the senior Bagley. 

Alumni Gym apparently still had its charm in the second half for the Redwings, whose 15–17 score at halftime worsened into an 11-point deficit in the third quarter. Benet fell behind with a score of 21–29 at the start of the fourth quarter. From that point, the Redwings’ defense began to kick in. Oswego could make only 2 of its 13 field goals in the third quarter. Benet’s offense also gained momentum as center Frank Kaminsky scored all of his 9 points in the fourth quarter. A shot by senior Mike Runger brought the score to 31–31, and two consecutive driving layups by David Sobolewski gave Benet the lead that would last for the rest of the game. 

“We hit a dry spell there, but let’s give credit where credit is due. Defense wins games and they are the best defensive team we’ve faced all year,” said Oswego coach Kevin Schnable.

Benet’s Matt Parisi led his team with 15 points, and Sobolewski scored 12. Oswego’s Andrew Ziemnik also scored 12.