The trend toward fewer conflicts reported by peace researchers since the early 1990s now seems to have been broken. This is shown in the latest annual report “States in Armed Conflict,” from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program at the Uppsala University Department of Peace and Conflict Research. The findings worry the researchers. The Middle East is the region where peace initiatives are most conspicuous in their absence.
Since the most conflict-ridden years in the early 1990s, a continuous decline was registered up to 2002. Since that time the number has held steady at around 30 active armed conflicts per year. This is probably also the case for 2007.
The family of a 17-year-old California girl who died after being initially denied payment for a liver transplant is suing the teen’s insurance company, an attorney for the family said Friday.
Nataline Sarkisyan, who died Thursday night after her family removed her from life support, had been in a vegetative state for weeks due to complications following a bone marrow transplant. Insurer CIGNA HealthCare had first denied a doctor-recommended liver transplant for Nataline, who suffered from leukemia, but had reversed course yesterday in the face of mounting public pressure.
Literally murder by spreadsheet. It’ll be interesting to see if this case is going to play a role in the primaries.
The federal agency in charge of policing the torrent of political spending during the upcoming presidential primaries will, for all practical purposes, shut its doors on New Year’s Eve.
The Federal Election Commission will effectively go dark on Jan. 1 because Congress remains locked in a standoff over the confirmation of President Bush’s nominees to the panel. As a consequence, the FEC will enter 2008 with just two of six members — short of the four votes needed for the commission to take any official action.
“There is, in effect, nobody to answer the phone,” said Robert F. Bauer, a leading Democratic campaign finance lawyer.
Although the 375 auditors, lawyers and investigators at the FEC will continue to process work already before them, a variety of matters that fall to the commissioners will be placed on hold indefinitely. Chief among them are deciding whether to launch investigations into possible campaign finance violations and determining the penalties.
Huckabee: There is a level of elitism that has existed, the chattering class if you will who lives in that corridor between Washington and Wall Street and they sort of live in their protected world, and frankly for a number of years many of them thought of people like me – whether it was because we were evangelicals or because maybe we were out from the middle of America. They were polite to us. They were more than happy for us to come to the rallies and stand in lines for hours to cheer on the candidates, appreciated us putting up the yard signs, going out and putting out the cards on peoples doors and making phone calls to the phone banks and – really appreciated all of our votes. But when they got elected, behind closed doors, they would laugh at us and speak with scorn and derision that we were, as one article I think once said “the easily led.” So there’s been almost this sort of, it’s okay if you guys get a seat on the bus, but don’t ever think about telling us where the bus is going to go.
Republicans have won the votes of downscale evangelicals for years by arguing that Democrats condescend to them and sneer at them behind their backs. Well, how do you think they’re going to respond if East-coast conservative elites start doing the same thing–but in full public view?
The basic story is that last March, the wise men who run Circuit City came up with the brilliant idea of laying off their more senior salespeople, who get $14-$15 an hour, and replacing them with new hires who get around $9 an hour. It turns out that this move was not very good for business. One of the reasons that people go to a store like Circuit City, rather than buying things on the Internet, is that they want to be able to talk to a knowledgeable salesperson. Since Circuit City had laid off their knowledgeable salespeople, there was little reason to shop there.
Apparently Circuit City came to this same conclusion earlier this fall and tried to hire back some of the people it had dumped. In any case, things have not gone well for the bottom line. The company is now losing money and its share price is down more than 75 percent from its value earlier this year.
We all know what happens when you mess up in the dog eat dog world of big business — you get retention awards (that’s because your stock options aren’t worth anything). The Post reports that Circuit City’s executive vice-presidents will get retention awards of $1 million each. That’s 35 years worth of pay for one of sales clerks who earned $14 an hour. And that’s just the bonus.
Getting paid a bonus for being an incompetent nincompoop. What a job!
Researchers from Google have documented serious vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash content which leave tens of thousands of websites susceptible to attacks that steal the personal details of visitors.
The security bugs reside in Flash applets, the ubiquitous building blocks for movies and graphics that animate sites across the web. Also known as SWF files, they are vulnerable to attacks in which malicious strings are injected into the legitimate code through a technique known as cross-site scripting, or XSS. Currently there are no patches for the vulnerabilities, which are found in sites operated by financial institutions, government agencies and other organizations.
The vulnerabilities are laid out in the book Hacking Exposed Web 2.0: Web 2.0 Security Secrets and Solutions. It is due to hit store shelves soon, but is already in the hands of many security professionals. The book’s authors, who work for penetration testing firm iSEC Partners as well as for Google, say a web search reveals more than 500,000 vulnerable applets on major corporate, government and media sites.
“Lots of people are vulnerable, and right now there are no protections available other than to remove those SWFs and wait for the authoring tools and/or Flash player to be updated,” says Alex Stamos, one of the book’s authors. “In the mean time, people will have to think: ‘What kind of flash am I using on my site,’ and manually test for vulnerabilities.”