Saturday, December 31, 2005

post secret

White House Says Web Site Counts Visitors

From Yahoo news:

NEW YORK - The White House said Friday its Web tracking technology is consistent with federal rules because it only counts the number of visitors anonymously and doesn't record personal information.

The White House's site uses what's known as a Web bug — a tiny graphic image that's virtually invisible — to anonymously keep track of the number and time of visits. The bug is sent by a server maintained by an outside contractor, WebTrends Inc., and lets the traffic-analysis company know that another person has visited a specific page on the site.

Web bugs themselves are not prohibited. However, under a directive from the White House's Office of Management and Budget, they are largely banned at government sites when linked to cookies, which are data files that let a site track Web visitors.

Cookies are not generated simply by visiting the White House site. Rather, WebTrends cookies are sometimes created when visiting other WebTrends clients. An analysis by security researcher Richard M. Smith shows such preexisting cookies have then been read when users visit the White House site.(more)

Friday, December 30, 2005

"Egyptian Police Kill at Least 23 Unarmed Sudanese Migrants"

From NYTimes:

CAIRO, Egypt Dec. 30 - Egyptian riot police rushed into a crowd of unarmed Sudanese migrants early this morning, killing at least 23 people, including small children, after the group refused to leave a public park it had occupied for three months hoping to pressure United Nations officials to relocate them.

The police tried for hours to persuade thousands of men, women and children to leave the small square, hosing them with water canon, surrounding them with cordons of riot police, imploring the women and children to board buses, and repeatedly warning that they would be removed forcefully.

But the crowd was desperate, having moved with all their possessions, suitcases loaded with clothing and family photographs, jewelry and kitchen wares, into what amounted to a traffic island in a middle class neighborhood. They hoped the authorities would declare them refugees and send them abroad. They had fled war-torn Sudan, but the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Cairo - across from where they camped out - told them that they were not eligible for refugee status or for relocation because it was safe for them to return home. (more)

Radical Change for Tenure

From inside higher education:

"Three years ago, all members of the Modern Language Association received a letter from Stephen Greenblatt, then the group’s president, warning of a crisis facing language and literature departments. Junior faculty members were unable to publish the books that they needed to win tenure and cuts in library and university press budgets left open the possibility that higher education “stands to lose, or at least severely to damage, a generation of young scholars.”

He called for academic departments to rethink the way they considered publication as a tenure requirement, and his letter set off considerable debate.

Thursday night, a special panel of the MLA offered the first glimpse at its plan to overhaul tenure — and in many ways the plans go well beyond the reforms Greenblatt proposed. As he suggested, the panel wants departments — including those at top research universities — to explicitly change their expectations such that there are “multiple pathways” to demonstrating research excellence, ending the expectation of publishing a monograph. But the panel does not appear likely to stop there. (more)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bosnia-based body to help identify Katrina victims

From Yahoo news:

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - A Sarajevo-based body which helped identify victims of the 1990s Yugoslavia wars and last year's Asian tsunami said on Thursday said it would help identify victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) said it would analyze bone samples to obtain DNA profiles enabling it to identify the bodies of those killed in the hurricane which hit the southern United States in August, killing 1,228 people.

"Under an agreement between ICMP and the State of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, ICMP will test an estimated 260 to 350 bone samples to assist in identification of victims of the August hurricane," the Commission said in a statement. (more)

"No Real Answer to Riots in Political Wrangling"

From the NYTimes

"A few hours before dark on Christmas Eve, the prefecture of the Yvelines district in the vast urban sprawl surrounding the capital put out a notice forbidding gas stations from selling fuel to anyone not actually pumping it into the tank of his car. Basically, that meant young men carting it off in jerrycans.

The ban holds till noon on Jan. 2, and according to the French-language service of The Associated Press, the prefecture explained its decision, similar to restrictions in other regions, by noting that "the year-end holiday period raises the possibility of new excesses." Those would-be car and building-burning rampages looking a whole lot like the three weeks of rioting by children of France's downtrodden Arab and African immigrants that shook the country in October and November. (more)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Light posts for a few days.

"Ghana's Uneasy Embrace of Slavery's Diaspora"

From the NYTimes:

"CAPE COAST, Ghana - For centuries, Africans walked through the infamous "door of no return" at Cape Coast castle directly into slave ships, never to set foot in their homelands again. These days, the portal of this massive fort so central to one of history's greatest crimes has a new name, hung on a sign leading back in from the roaring Atlantic Ocean: "The door of return." [...] "Taking Israel as its model, Ghana hopes to persuade the descendants of enslaved Africans to think of Africa as their homeland - to visit, invest, send their children to be educated and even retire here.

"We want Africans everywhere, no matter where they live or how they got there, to see Ghana as their gateway home," J. Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, the tourism minister, said on a recent day. "We hope we can help bring the African family back together again." (more)