Sarah Palin’s e-mail hack? There is no patch for stupidity!

Details describing how someone hacked into Sarah Palin’s Yahoo Mail account emerged on Thursday, and it appears to have been done with little more than social engineering.

Since Tuesday, anonymous posters using a forum on the 4Chan.org Web site have been circulating password-protected zip files containing the contents of the now-deleted e-mail account once belonging to the Republican vice presidential candidate.

Like most Web account services, Yahoo Mail provides an option to reset or recover one’s user name and password. What is unclear is how the account recovery was rerouted from the alternative e-mail address chosen by Palin to a secondary e-mail address.

When Yahoo Mail prompted for Palin’s birthday, one poster said it took only 15 seconds on Wikipedia to answer that question. When it prompted for ZIP code, Wasilla, Ala., has only two ZIP Codes. As for Palin’s personal security question “Where did you meet your spouse?” that did slow the process down. The poster claimed it took several tries but eventually hit upon the correct answer: Wasilla High.

Inkadentally, the leading suspect in the crack – I wouldn’t call it a hack, especially – is a college student named Mike Kernell.

He changed Palin’s password to “popcorn”. Whadda you think?

Hundreds arrested in four countries in global drug bust

Police in four nations have held about 200 people over alleged trans-Atlantic drug-trafficking involving a major Mexican drugs cartel.

US and Italian police seized 175, some of them picked up in Italy’s Reggio Calabria region, where the N’drangheta mafia run the cocaine trade. Other suspects were arrested in Mexico and Guatemala.

Italian police say the coordinated investigation, Operation Solare, has proved to be one of its biggest operations against the mafia in recent years, and one of their most successful. The N’drangheta is notoriously secretive and ruthless, characteristics which have protected its drug-trafficking hegemony until now…

The suspects detained in the US were arrested in a dozen states, including 43 people picked up in Atlanta, Georgia.

More than 16,000kg (35,000lb) of cocaine, 450kg of methamphetamine, 9kg of heroin, 23,300kg of marijuana, 176 vehicles and 167 weapons have been seized.

Approximately $60.1m (£33m) in US currency was also taken.

Bravo! Nice to see policing focused on police work.

Of course, a lifetime of observation at the grassroots level prompts me to ask if this is anything more than some of the bottom-feeding thugs taking their turn in the slammer? Tht’s not just cynicism – that’s how it’s done in many crime families.

You keep the Capo out of harm’s way. You draw attention away from politicians and police officials on the take by throwing a few bones to the media dogs.

New Minneapolis bridge opens, 13 months after collapse

A steady stream of motorists crossed the new Interstate 35W “smart bridge” as it opened, a little more than a year after the old one collapsed into the Mississippi River and killed 13 people.

A vanguard of squad cars, fire trucks, ambulances and maintenance trucks slowly led a parade of cars, motorcycles, trucks and buses across the new bridge in downtown Minneapolis just after 5 a.m. this morning, reopening one of the busiest arteries in the Twin Cities…

The old bridge fell August 1, 2007, killing more than a dozen people and injuring 145 others. The state put the replacement on the fast track, and contractors had it ready for traffic in just 11 months.

The bridge was completed on budget and more than three months ahead of the December 24 deadline. That means the contractors should get a bonus close to the contract maximum of $27 million, though the actual amount hasn’t been determined.

RTFA – especially the details of the sensor system they installed to stay ahead of preventative maintenance requirements.

And the contractor beat the install date. Good for you!

Global Banks are as rotten as their foundations

From pubs in London to bars in New York, everyone is asking the same question: Why is this financial crisis different? The answer is simple albeit not sexy. The rot has set in.

The world’s investment banks are basically houses built on pillars of money. Sometimes those pillars are cash, often bonds; these days pillars are made up of derivatives, swaps, options and other frighteningly complex instruments.

But these pillars are the strength that supports not only the bank itself, but also its debts and liabilities. Under technical rules the pillars have to be transparent and of a certain quality, so that investors know just how well propped up the bank is. In layman’s terms — everyone can tell “the bank is safe!” If the pillars remain strong — the bank stays standing.

What has happened is that the rot has got into the pillars and no-one noticed. If they were wooden it would be worms. The very financial instruments that make up the core of the banks are questionable.

They have been questionable for over a decade. And people did notice.

A certain portion of government and legislators were bribed and “influenced” by lobbyists. Some of the remainder were so-called deregulators like John McCain who refused to institute licensing and regulations for storefront mortgages – which became, by the way, what everyone terms sub-prime.

And the rest were simply ignorant gits.
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Turkey bans Richard Dawkins website

A Turkish court has banned internet users from viewing the official Richard Dawkins website after a Muslim creationist claimed its contents were defamatory and blasphemous.

Adnan Oktar, who writes under the pen name of Harun Yahya, complained that Dawkins, a fierce critic of creationism and intelligent design, had insulted him in comments made on forums and blogs.

In 2006 his publishers sent out 10,000 copies of the Atlas of Creation, a lavish 800-page rejection of evolution. Dawkins, one of the recipients, described the book as “preposterous”. On his website the British biologist and popular science writer said he was at “a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the ‘breathtaking inanity’ of the content.”

In August 2007 Oktar persuaded a court to block access to WordPress.com. His lawyers argued that blogs on WordPress.com contained libelous material that the company was unwilling to remove.

Last April, he made a libel complaint about Google Groups, which was subsequently blocked.

Ain’t theocracies wonderful?

Of course, Turkey is supposed to be a secular state and a democracy. Has anyone notified their courts?

Aftermath of Ike: Gay bar becomes a haven

As Galveston told its remaining residents to leave the Texas island devastated by Hurricane Ike, Robert’s Lafitte, a gay bar, was planning a pre-curfew drag show and Tina Turner sing-along.

The first of two bars to reopen after Ike’s onslaught on Saturday, Robert’s Lafitte is a haven in the storm — for gays, straights, anyone who needs a place to drink and find comfort…

Big Mouth Robert, the establishment’s owner and a former female impersonator, said the bar took 3 feet (1 meter) of water and closed when Ike’s fury blew out the windows. But after a mop-up the next morning, Robert’s Lafitte was back in business.

“All of our customers kind of demanded it,” said Robert. “It’s their bar and they kind of dictate what’s going on. We’re survivors.”

The bar is setting out food donated by locals for people in need. Some 20,000 people are thought to be still on the island and food and water are scarce.

It’s more than a life saver. This is like the Coast Guard,” said Brian DeLeon, a straight restaurant worker who had not visited the bar before. “These are the people who take you up out of the water and make life livable. Once I get back to work, I’m coming back here.”

When push comes to shove, it’s nice to see the essentials of community surpass cultural hangups.

iPhone 3G named Gadget of the Year in the UK

Apple’s iPhone 3G has won a public vote to find the year’s best gadget, beating strong competition from three games consoles, a budget laptop and a balloon-shaped iPod speaker system.

The latest version of the mobile that combines a phone with a music and video player was chosen by readers of Stuff magazine in its annual Gadget of the Year awards.

The magazine described the iPhone 3G as “a faster, cleverer version of an already remarkable phone”. The phone’s first incarnation, launched in Britain last year, won the coolest gadget prize at last year’s ceremony…

Stuff’s Editor Fraser Macdonald said the nominated products were judged on their performance, design and value, as well as “that elusive cool factor“.

“Having our readers vote for a number of the awards has been fascinating,” he said. “They are the ones out there on the street buying gadgets and so they are a great barometer.”

Apple will be modestly happy having also won the Design Award, as well – for the MacBook Air.

Uganda wants to criminalize miniskirts


She’s in trouble walking down the street in Kampala in this dress

Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister says miniskirts should be banned – because women wearing them distract drivers and cause traffic accidents.

“What’s wrong with a miniskirt? You can cause an accident because some of our people are weak mentally,” Mr Buturo said. Wearing a miniskirt should be regarded as “indecent”, which would be punishable under Ugandan law.

These days you hardly know who is a mother from a daughter, they are all naked.”

According to the minister, indecent dressing is just one of many vices facing Ugandan society: “Theft and embezzlement of public funds, sub-standard service delivery, greed, infidelity, prostitution, homosexuality [and] sectarianism…” he said.

He left out politicians who are idiots.