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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Alcatel-Lucent Fined For Corruption

Alcatel-Lucent to Pay $2.5M in Fines to Settle Charges It Bribed Chinese Officials

Yahoo News
December 21, 2007

Alcatel-Lucent will pay $2.5 million to settle charges that it violated U.S. anti-bribery laws by paying for hundreds of trips taken by Chinese officials to secure millions of dollars in contracts.

The trips were provided between 2000 and 2003 by Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent Technologies, prior to its 2006 acquisition by Alcatel SA, the Justice Department said Friday.

Lucent footed the bill for approximately 315 trips for CHINESE officials, including sightseeing trips to Las Vegas, Disneyland and the Grand Canyon, the department said.

The company paid a $1 million fine to the Justice Department and $1.5 million in civil penalties to settle a separate complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mary Ward, a spokeswoman for Alcatel-Lucent, said the company “cooperated fully” with the investigation and is “glad to get this matter behind us.”

The recipients were officials with Chinese state-owned TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES considered important to securing new business, the department’s letter said.

The Justice Department agreed to forego criminal prosecution of Lucent as part of the settlement. The company promised to institute a corporate anti-corruption policy and put in place better internal controls to detect violations of anti-bribery laws.

The settlement DOES NOT AFFECT a separate case involving charges that an Alcatel-Lucent official paid bribes to Costa Rican officials from 2000 to 2004, the department said.

Shares of Alcatel-Lucent fell 2 cents to $7.39 in late afternoon trading Friday.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 12/26/07 •
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Saturday, December 15, 2007

US Joins Global Warming Fight

please.jpg

U.S. Agrees To Bali Compromise

CNN
December 15, 2007

The United States made a dramatic REVERSAL Saturday, first rejecting and then accepting a compromise to set the stage for intense negotiations in the next two years aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.

The U.N. climate change conference in Bali was filled with emotion and cliff-hanging anticipation on Saturday, an extra day added because of a failure to reach agreement during the scheduled sessions.

The final result was a global warming pact that provides for negotiating rounds to conclude in 2009.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the pact “a good beginning.” “This is just a beginning and not an ending,” Ban said. “We’ll have to engage in many complex, difficult and long negotiations.” Video Watch as emotional conference declared a success.

The head of the U.S. delegation—Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky—was booed Saturday afternoon when she announced that the United States was rejecting the plan as then written because they were “not prepared to accept this formulation.” She said developing countries needed to carry more of the responsibility.

While rhetoric at such conferences is often just words, a short speech by a delegate from the small developing country of Papua New Guinea appeared to carry weight with the Americans. The delegate challenged the United States to “either lead, follow or get out of the way.”

Just five minutes later, when it appeared the conference was on the brink of collapse, Dobriansky took to the floor again to announce the United States was willing to accept the arrangement. Applause erupted in the hall and a relative level of success for the conference appeared certain.

Saturday’s session, a roller coaster ride for delegates and the media, began with optimism after the European Union and the United States reached agreement on a compromise for their differences on a global warming pact.

The U.N. climate change conference had been scheduled to end Friday. But the delegates returned to the negotiating table early Saturday after talks went well into the night before. The new pact is meant as a roadmap for future climate talks, which will culminate in Copenhagen in 2009.

Humberto Rosa, a Portuguese environmental official, said the two sides had come to an agreement over wording about future emissions cuts that would not include specific guidelines. The United States objected to the specific guidelines, saying including them was moving the process too quickly and would preempt any future negotiations.

The EU wanted an agreement to require developed countries to cut their emissions by 25 to 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2020. The United States opposes those targets, along with Japan and Canada.

The latest draft of the agreement removes the specific figures and instead, in a footnote, references the scientific study that supports them.

While the EU and the United States appeared to have ended their impasse, India had objections to other parts of the agreement, notably the contributions developed nations would make to help developing nations clean up their emissions problems. Talks were expected to continue for several more hours.

Environmental groups said the new pact makes the agreement less forceful than it might have been, but agreed that it is probably the best that could be had given the staunch objections of the Bush administration.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who attended the conference earlier this week but left for a visit to East Timor, announced Saturday that he was unexpectedly returning to Bali to help shepherd the talks as they apparently neared a conclusion.

At one dramatic point Saturday, Ban took the podium to say urge compromise before adjournment.

“Frankly, I’m disappointed at the level of progress,” he said.

Without specifics, however, some believed the final agreement would amount to failure.

“Let me underline once again that the Bali road map must have a clear destination,” said Stavros Dimas, the EU environment commissioner.

But Rajendra Pachauri, who heads the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said such a stance would ignore the other progress being made at the conference. He said simply having a strong statement paving the way for future action would suffice.

“I wouldn’t term that a failure at all,” Pachauri said. “I think what would be a failure is not to provide a strong road map by which the world can move on, and I think that road map has to be specified with or without numbers. If we can come up with numbers, that’s certainly substantial progress, and I hope that happens.”

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change passed the KYOTO Protocol 10 years ago, with the goal of limiting GREENHOUSE GAS concentrations in the atmosphere.

While 175 parties—including the European Union—ratified it, the United States has not.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 12/15/07 •
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The Everest Report

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Ohios electronic voting systems have ғcritical security failures which could impact the integrity of elections in the Buckeye State, according to a review of the systems commissioned by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

The results underscore the need for a fundamental change in the structure of OhioӒs election system to ensure ballot and voting system security while still making voting convenient and accessible to all Ohio voters, Secretary Brunner said Friday in unveiling the report.

ӓIn an era of computer-based voting systems, voters have a right to expect that their voting system is at least as secure as the systems they use for banking and communication, she said.

THE REPORT

The Evaluation & Validation of Election-Related Equipment, Standards & Testing report, known as EVEREST, is a comprehensive review of voting systems revealing startling findings on voting machines and systems used in Ohio and throughout the country.  The Ohio study tested the systems for:

- risks to vote security,
- system performance, including load capacity,
- configuration to currently certified systems specifications, and
- operations and internal controls that could mitigate risk.

The $1.9 million study, paid for using federal funds, was structured to allow two teams of scientists, corporate and academic, to conduct parallel assessment of the security of the stateԒs three voting systems - Election Systems & Software (ES&S), Hart Intercivic and Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold) - in both voting and board of elections environments.  Separate research was conducted on each voting systems performance, configuration and operations and internal controls management.  A bipartisan team of 12 election board directors and deputy directors advised the study and evaluated all reports, participating with the secretary in making recommendations for change.

While some tests to compromise voting systems took higher levels of sophistication, fairly simple techniques were often successfully deployed.

ғTo put it in every-day terms, the tools needed to compromise an accurate vote count could be as simple as tampering with the paper audit trail connector or using a magnet and a personal digital assistant, Brunner said.

The researchers in the Ohio study didnԒt address the issue of probability of attack, leaving that to the determination of state and local officials.  The researchers commented that with the lack of technical measures in voting system design, its integrity is provided purely by the integrity and honesty of election officials.Ӕ (p. 20, Final Report of Academic Researchers.)

ItӒs a testament to our states boards of elections officials that elections on the new HAVA mandated voting systems have gone as smoothly as they have in light of these findings,Ҕ Brunner said.

Testers looking at the performance of the voting systems used in Ohio and in many locales throughout the country, identified numerous risks to election integrity ranging from minor to severe, according to the review.

Also, those examining how voting systems were configured in the field found risks such as the use of materials like memory storage and printer paper that had not been certified by the voting system manufacturers; a lack of standardized equipment testing and that revisions to voting system software for all systems and counties were not documented or tracked, the review said.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Secretary Brunner has presented recommendations and options to address these findings to Gov. Ted Strickland and legislative leaders for their consideration. Among the top recommendations are:

* Eliminating points of entry creating unnecessary voting system risk by moving to Central Counting of Ballots
* Eliminating Use of Direct Recording Electronic (DREs) and Precinct-based Optical Scan Voting Machines that tabulate votes at polling locations
* Utilizing the AutoMark voting machine for voters with disabilities (This machine readsӔ the bar code on a blank ballot and acts solely as a ballot marking device, allowing voters, especially those with disabilities, to mark ballots with little or no assistance, preserving the secrecy of their ballot selections.)
* Requiring all ballots be Optical Scan Ballots for central tabulation and effective voter verification
* Maintaining no faultӔ absentee voting while establishing Early (15 days prior to the election) and Election Day Vote Centers (of the size of 5 to 10 precincts), eliminating voting at individual precincts or polling places of less than 5 precincts
* Requiring all Special Elections (issues only) held in August 2008 to be voted by mail (no in-person voting, except at the board of elections, for issue-only elections held in August 2008)

CUYAHOGA COUNTY PRIMARY ELECTION REMEDY

With a swift indication for state funding assistance, Cuyahoga County could move to a central-count optical scan voting system in time for the March 2008 primary election by using leased DREs for precinct- based voting by persons with disabilities and purchasing high-speed optical scanners (with compatible server and software and voting booths) for optical-scan voting.

This option has been estimated to cost between $2 million and $2.5 million. All purchased equipment could transfer to a vote center voting system for use in November 2008, and extra voting booths not needed for vote centers could be redistributed to other counties migrating from DRE to optical scan central count vote centers.  The county would be responsible for printing a sufficient number of ballots for the March primary election.  If this option were approved, purchases would need to be made immediately, with reimbursement applied for by the secretary of state to the Ohio General Assembly to reimburse the Cuyahoga County commissioners for equipment purchases.

CONCLUSION

The EVEREST STUDY builds upon previous studies conducted around the country on voting systems, the Ohio secretary of states office said. The study of the ES&S systems, however, is the first of its kind, officials said.

The Ohio study used testing done by both researchers from academic institutions including the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University and University of California at Santa Barbara, as well as corporate security personnel from firms such as Systest Labs of Denver and MicroSolved, Inc. of Columbus, Ohio. The Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus served as project manager.

Researchers in the Ohio study had access to the computer source code provided by voting machine manufacturers as well as access to much of the equipment and documentation, the secretary of stateҒs office said.

SOURCE

HACKING DEMOCRACY
BERKELY BLASTS E-VOTING MACHINES
NIST BLASTS E-VOTING
FINLAND HACKERS ADDRESS US E-VOTING MACHINES
HOTEL MINI-BAR KEYS OPEN VOTING MACHINES
VOTING MACHINE FLAWS
SECRET VOTING MACHINE RECALL

Posted by Elvis on 12/15/07 •
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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Bad Businesses, Bad People, Bad Government

I thought China was the US’s most TRUSTED trading parter - and next to India - the best place for big business to OUTSOURCE AMERICA’S WORKFORCE to cheap slave labor of 1.3 billion people - with the blessing of The US Goverment.  A country esteemed enough to MAKE OUR BORDER FENCE and MARTIN LUTHER KING’S MEMORIAL.

Now this same government is calling China an OPPRESSIVE communist regime. 

Pretty HYPOCRYTICAL, don’t ya think?

PS - China’s ALWAYS BEEN a communist regime, and the United States USED TO be a DEMOCRACY.

---

Yahoo Executives Defend Company in China Case

Associated Press
November 5, 2007

Two top Yahoo Inc. officials on Tuesday defended their company’s role in the jailing of a Chinese journalist but ran into withering criticism from lawmakers who accused them of complicity with an oppressive communist regime.

“While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are PYGMIES," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said angrily after hearing from the two Yahoo executives.

He angrily urged Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang and General Counsel Michael Callahan to apologize to journalist Shi Tao’s mother, who was sitting directly behind them.

Shi Tao was sent to jail for 10 years for engaging in pro-democracy efforts deemed subversive after Yahoo turned over information about his online activities requested by Chinese authorities.

Yang and Callahan turned around from the witness table and bowed from their seats to Shi’s mother, Gao Qinsheng, who bowed in return and then began to weep.

Yang contended that Yahoo “has been open and forthcoming with this committee at every step of this investigative process”—a contention Lantos and other committee members rejected.

The committee is investigating statements Callahan made at a congressional hearing early last year.

Callahan said at the time that the Sunnyvale, Calif., Internet giant had no information about the nature of the Chinese government’s investigation of Shi when the company turned over information about him.

Callahan has since acknowledged that Yahoo officials had received a subpoena-like documentthat made reference to suspected “illegal provision of state secrets”—a common charge against political dissidents.

Last week Callahan issued a statement saying that he learned the details of the documentmonths after his February 2006 testimony, and that he regretted not alerting the committee to it once he knew about it.

He reiterated that regret Tuesday and contended that Yahoo employees in China had little choice but to comply with the government’s demands.

“I cannot ask our local employees to resist lawful demands and put their own freedom at risk, even if, in my personal view, the local laws are overbroad,” Callahan said.

Lantos rejected that argument.

“I do not believe that America’s best and brightest companies should be PLAYING INTEGRAL ROLES in China’s notorious and brutal political repression apparatus,” he said.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., compared Yahoo’s cooperation with the Chinese governnment to companies that cooperated with Nazi Germany during World War II.

Lawmakers demanded to know what Yahoo would do to help Shi’s family and reacted with derision when neither Yang nor Callahan provided a concrete answer.

Callahan also couldn’t say whether there were outstanding demands for information from the Chinese government to Yahoo, or whether Yahoo would react the same today to a demand for information from the Chinese government as it did several years ago when the authorities wanted information about Shi.

In 2005 Yahoo bought a 40 percent stake in China’s biggest online commerce firm, Alibaba.com (OOTC:ALBAF) , which has taken over running Yahoo’s mainland China operations. Callahan said it was up to Alibaba officials how to respond to the Chinese government’s demands.

Smith dismissed that explanation as “plausible deniability.”

Callahan did say that in going into future markets such as Vietnam, Yahoo would aim to find a way to avoid turning over information to the government on citizens’ on-line activities.

“I would hope to have a structure in place ... that we would be able to resist those demands or have that data not be accessible,” he said.

Human rights and free-speech advocates have lambasted U.S. companies including Google Inc.  and Microsoft Corp. for helping the Chinese government stifle the flow of ideas in exchange for greater access to the country’s rapidly growing Internet market. But the convictions of Shi and another Chinese journalist Yahoo provided information about have focused the most strident criticism on Yahoo.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 11/07/07 •
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Friday, November 02, 2007

Another Big Chrysler 2007 Layoff

jobs.jpg

Earlier this year I was hoping CHRYSLER’S NEW OWNERS would reinvest in the company and in America. FALSE HOPES I guess.

13,00 today plus 13,000 this VALENTINE’S DAY - makes over 25,000 layoffs ar Chrysler this year.

Just wait until AMERICAN CONSUMERS see that $5,000 CAR FROM CHINA due to hits the US markets next year, I think. Like MOTHS TO A FLAME - we’re going to burn as we flock to get ourselves one.

---

Job Cuts At Chrysler Go Even Deeper Than Expected

By Micheline Maynard
International Herald Tribune
November 2, 2007

Over the last two years, the three American auto companies have vowed that their plans to slash nearly 80,000 jobs and close more than two dozen plants would be enough to transform them into leaner and nimbler competitors.

But the housing downturn and soaring oil prices have forced Chrysler and General Motors to make another round of surprising cuts, with no guarantees that these will be the last.

On Thursday, Chrysler announced it would eliminate 11,000 hourly and salaried jobs in the United States and Canada, and cut shifts of workers at five plants. The decision comes on top of a plan, announced in FEBRUARY, to eliminate 13,000 jobs and close a factory in Newark, Delaware.

Taken together, Chrysler will be reducing its 2006 work force of about 80,000 employees by 30 percent.

General Motors also recently said that it would eliminate shifts at three assembly plants in Michigan. The moves, announced after GM union workers approved their new contract, will most likely cut 3,000 jobs, though GM has not confirmed the total. Two years ago, GM announced 30,000 job cuts as part of a broad revamping.

“It does take one’s breath away to REALIZE THAT THE AUTO INDUSTRY in the U.S., having gone through so much turmoil and so many rounds of cuts, is going through them yet again,” said Michael Useem, a professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The recent wave of cuts shows that the United Automobile Workers contract passed after brief strikes at GM and Chrysler, and now under negotiation at Ford - has offered little protection against the sagging auto market, despite union leaders insisting they got the best deal they could for workers.

The experience at GM and Chrysler is bound to make Ford workers more insistent on job guarantees. They may be difficult for Ford to offer, unless the UAW agrees to deeper cost cuts in other aspects of the contract.

Chrysler’s new chief executive, Robert Nardelli, blamed sagging auto sales for the company’s steps. Chrysler developed its earlier plan in a stronger car market, Nardelli said, while still under the wing of Daimler, its former German parent.

Now, given the economic uncertainty, auto sales this year are expected to be the weakest since 1998. And Nardelli said the soft environment is expected to continue through next year.

“The market situation has changed dramatically,” he said in a statement.

Chrysler also said Thursday that it would retire four models, including the convertible version of the PT Cruiser and two models, the Dodge Magnum and Chrysler Crossfire, that were it developed during its failed merger with Daimler. Chrysler said the eliminations were based on suggestions from dealers.

The cuts at the automaker were twice as deep as some had expected and came with little warning to the factories affected by them.

“This is a huge shock for us,” said Basil Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union.

The Canadian union represents workers at plants in Windsor and Brampton, Ontario, where shifts will be cut. Other factories to lose shifts are in Belvidere, Illinois, Toledo, Ohio, and two plants in Detroit. Chrysler said some of the work might be restored when it introduces new models.

The UAW did not comment. But one dissident union leader, Gregg Shotwell, said Chrysler’s actions threatened to create general distrust and divisiveness within the union.

Union leaders “certainly deserve to be distrusted because they misled people,” said Shotwell, whose group, Soldiers of Solidarity, campaigned against the versions of the UAW contract that passed at Chrysler and GM “This has opened up people’s eyes.”

The cuts are an example of the new way of doing business at Chrysler, bought in August by Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm. Since then, the new owners have hired Nardelli, the former Home Depot chief executive, as well as James Press, a Toyota executive who is now a Chrysler’s president.

Professor Useem said the steps showed Cerberus would not hesitate to take quick action that might take months or even years at other automakers.

“Private equity is much better equipped to take the Draconian cuts” than public companies such as GM and Ford, he added. “It’s in their DNA to be able to make these kinds of decisions. They don’t owe anything to anybody.”

Many industry analysts have said that Cerberus’s turnaround efforts are intended to ready it for another global alliance or possibly a sale, although Nardelli has said he intends to run Chrysler as an independent player.

Long term, however, Chrysler can only survive with low costs and respectable profits, a formula that its two Detroit rivals also are trying to carry out.

The cuts are putting the UAW’s president, Ron Gettelfinger, in a difficult political position. After all, he backed Cerberus despite warning that private equity owners would “strip and flip” Chrysler.

With the cuts announced Thursday, “that’s stripping,” said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Yet, Chrysler’s owners may not have much choice. On Thursday, the company said its sales in October fell 12.5 percent on an adjusted basis compared with 2006. For the year, Chrysler sales are down 3 percent, and it ranks as the country’s fourth-biggest auto company, behind GM, Toyota and Ford.

Chrysler has long depended heavily on big pickups, sport utilities and minivans for the bulk of its sales, shifting its lineup only recently to build more small cars and small sport utilities, as well as crossover vehicles, which are SUV’s based on car underpinnings.

Thursday’s announcement showed that even plants building some of its newest and more-efficient models were not immune from cuts. The Belvidere factory, for example, builds the small Dodge Caliber.

Chrysler reiterated plans to build the Dodge Journey, a crossover, as well as the Dodge Challenger sports coupe, marking the return of the muscle car. It also said it would build hybrid-electric versions of two SUV’s, the Dodge Aspen and Dodge Durango.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 11/02/07 •
Section News • Section Dying America
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