Please note: the viewport design is copied from Steve Den Beste's excellent blog, USS Clueless. Used with permission.


Thursday, November 03, 2005  

via webpronews.com

SEC Vs. The Estonian Spiders

David Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2005-11-02


It's not a pre-season NCAA basketball exhibition matchup, but a case where the Securities and Exchange Commission has accused an Estonian financial firm of spidering confidential Business Wire information and profiting on trades.

Making money on the stock market, in theory, is simple enough: buy low, sell high. If you bought Google at $85 and sold it today at $380.87 in after-hours trading, you have made money.

Investors in markets react to information, driving prices down or sending them skyward depending on what they learn about a business. In the movie 'Trading Places', Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd clean up by thwarting an insider trading scheme and using the information themselves to profit.

In specific legal terms, what they did was 'highly illegal'. But there's always someone ready to try a new angle on insider trading to get an edge and profit, profit, profit. The SEC has accused an Estonian financial firm, Lohmus Haavel & Viisemann, of tapping into the Business Wire site and using a spider program to collect confidential press releases before they were made public.

The electronic theft of over 360 press releases led to the traders earning nearly $8 million in profits since January 2005 with their advance trading. The SEC filed an emergency action with the Southern District Court for New York to freeze the company's assets and repatriate funds moved out of the country back to the U.S., according to a press release from the agency.

In the release, the SEC described more details of the crime:

The Commission's complaint alleges that, in June 2004, Lohmus became a client of Business Wire for the sole purpose of gaining access to Business Wire's secure client website. Once defendants had access, they surreptitiously utilized a software program, a so-called 'spider' program, which provided unauthorized access to confidential information contained in impending nonpublic press releases of other Business Wire clients, including the expected time of issuance.

posted by Gary Williams at 5:15 PM | link |
 

via SPACE.com

Asteroid Apophis: Dealing with Earth's Future Troublemaker

By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 3 November 2005
9:58 a.m. ET

BOULDER, Colorado – The potential for a newly discovered asteroid smacking into the Earth in 2036 cannot be discounted. NASA has sketched out a response strategy in the outside possibility that the space rock becomes a true threat.

NASA’s action plan was the result of prodding by a group of astronauts, scientists and other technical specialists uneasy about the current lack of action to protect the Earth from the impact of near Earth objects (NEOs).

The object was found last year through the efforts of NASA’s Spaceguard Survey. In 1998 NASA formally initiated the Spaceguard Survey by adopting the objective of finding 90 percent of the near Earth asteroids larger than 3,280 feet (one kilometer) diameter within the next decade - before the end of 2008.

Asteroid 99942 Apophis – first labeled as 2004 MN4 -- is estimated to be roughly 1,000 feet (320 meters) in diameter. Were it to strike Earth, it would not set off global havoc but would generate significant local or regional damage, experts say.

Worrisome to asteroid watchers is the exceptionally close flyby of Earth by Apophis on April 13, 2029. So close in fact, the space rock will be naked-eye visible as it darts by. And what can’t be ruled out at this time is that Apophis may pass through a gravitational “keyhole” – a spot that alters the asteroid’s trajectory as it zips by our planet and might put it on the bee-line lane for banging into Earth seven years later.
[more]

posted by Gary Williams at 3:49 PM | link |


Wednesday, November 02, 2005  

via SPACE.com

Ready to Explode: Inside Look at an Unstable Star

A new close-up view of the violent surroundings of the brightest known star in the Milky Way Galaxy confirms the unstable beast's years are numbered. The study also yields new insight into the huge, eruptive star.

Eta Carinae is 100 times more massive than the Sun and 5 million times as luminous.

The monster, as astronomers have described it, had a dramatic outburst in 1841, shining for a time as the second brightest star in Earth's night sky despite being about 7,500 light-years away, or roughly 1,000 times farther away than Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

Eta Car, as astronomers call it, could erupt again at any time and will eventually explode in a life-ending supernova event that might be visible during the day from Earth, if anyone is still around to watch.

The 1841 eruption created two massive, mushroom-shaped lobes of material that astronomers now study with high-powered telescopes. Thing is, the stuff in the lobes, along with a constant stream of charged particles still emanating from the scene, obscure the star itself.

The new observations got closer than ever.

Astronomers have still not seen the star, but they used the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile to examine its immediate surroundings. A study of the data, anntounced last week, shows Eta Carinae is on the verge of instability, rotating at about 90 percent of the maximum speed possible prior to a theoretical breakup.

The observations, in infrared light, detail a 'wind' of charged particles plowing out from the star. Our own Sun produces a constant high-speed outflow known as the solar wind. But it is a mild breeze compared to the stellar wind of Eta Car, which blows off the equivalent of 500 Earth masses every year, said study leader Roy van Boekel of the ESO and the University of Amsterdam.
[more]

posted by Gary Williams at 1:28 PM | link |


Monday, October 31, 2005  

[Doctorow] Themepunks part eight is live




[Doctorow] Themepunks part eight is live
By Cory Doctorow

Salon has published part eight of my novel-in-progress, Themepunks.
In today's installment, the shanty-town finds itself under siege, and
shots are fired:

> He pulled out the megaphone and went to his window.
>
> "ATTENTION POLICE," he said. "THIS IS THE LEASEHOLDER FOR THIS
> PROPERTY. WHY ARE YOU RUNNING AROUND WITH YOUR GUNS DRAWN? WHAT IS
> GOING ON?"
>
> The police at the cars looked toward the workshop, then back to the
> shantytown, then back to the workshop.
>
> "SERIOUSLY. THIS IS NOT COOL. WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?"
>
> One of the cops grabbed the mic for his own loudhailer. "THIS IS
> THE MIAMI-DADE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT. WE HAVE RECEIVED
> INTELLIGENCE THAT AN ARMED FUGITIVE IS ON THESE PREMISES. WE HAVE
> COME TO RETRIEVE HIM."
>
> "WELL, THAT'S WEIRD. NONE OF THE CHILDREN, CIVILIANS AND
> HARDWORKING PEOPLE HERE ARE FUGITIVES AS FAR AS I KNOW. CERTAINLY
> THERE'S NO ONE ARMED AROUND HERE. WHY DON'T YOU GET BACK IN YOUR
> CARS AND I'LL COME OUT AND WE'LL RESOLVE THIS LIKE CIVILIZED
> PEOPLE, OK?"
>
> The cop shook his head and reached for his mic again, and then
> there were two gunshots, a scream, and a third.

Themepunks Part 8:
http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2005/10/31/themepunks_8/index.html
Previous Installments:
http://dir.salon.com/topics/cory_doctorow/
--

Cory Doctorow
dotctorow@craphound.com

posted by Gary Williams at 9:54 AM | link |

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