IN THE WORLD of Verizon email, I am a non-person.I'm not even emailing you from Europe, but I imagine this is why Very Zon is putting me on four-day-bounce mode with you. Four day bounce? No wonder I'm sore. And is this how I got pregnant?
Or, rather, I am one of the people in Europe who for the last month and some has been unable to email addresses at Verizon.net, including that of my agent.
My email to her began doing the four-day bounce in late December. By mid-January, when I started to bug her about it by phone, she told me that she was having trouble getting email from a number of her European contacts. This made no sense to me: true, mail from my domain, pelicancrossing.net, comes from a UK-based mailserver at the end of my DSL, but the domain and my Web site are hosted on Pittsburgh-based Pair Networks. A week or two later, her email troubles hit the Washington Post.
The culprit is Verizon's anti-spam effort. Verizon told the Post it was merely "monitoring its own networks and blocking mail from other networks that Verizon deems to be conduits of large-scale spamming." In some reports I've read, there's a hint that only spammers would complain about these efforts. Apparently there have been anonymous complaints. Well, lissen up, Verizon, this is a fully identified, public complaint.
First of all, my mailserver is locked down – it's not an open relay – and my tiny home network is virus-free. So I'm not sending spam. Wizards, my ISP, is a small, very responsible outfit, and I feel safe in saying that it does not operate a safe haven for spammers. Its upstream ISP is, in turn…British Telecom's wholesale broadband service. Is BT a "conduit of large-scale spamming"? Really? Compared to Earthlink or AOL? Or compared to what we're being warned is about to happen, virus-infected zombie PCs using ISPs' own mail servers to send out junk?
Second: the Spamhaus Project notes that 80 per cent of spam comes from approximately 200 known spam operations. BT is not on the Spamhaus Project Register of Known Spammers. Neither is any other well-known European ISP. In fact, only one ISP from any European country is on that list, and it's in Poland. Most spam originates from US operations. Besides them ROKSO includes a handful from China, Australia, Canada, and a few other countries. But if you really want to block most spam, the rational approach is to block the US. It is arrogant, nationalist, and stupid for any American ISP to fail to recognise this fact.
Third: some time back, a Net pioneer who read a net.wars set out to email me about that column and got bounced by my mailserver because his domain had been placed on the real-time blacklist my server consults before accepting mail (which it then runs through the excellent SpamAssassin. Being a resourceful type, he consulted my Web page, found an alternative address, and emailed me there. By then, his email had expanded to include a critique of real-time blacklists. The basic argument: they are undemocratic and open to abuse. I do sympathize with that argument (though less so with the claim that blocking spam is censorship). Verizon's action displays exactly everything that could possibly be wrong with blacklists: vigilante justice that doesn't care how many innocents are trapped in the net. Notified that my friend couldn't email me directly at my main address, I whitelisted him, as Verizon is advising its customers to do. But even with the blacklist turned on, he was able – with a little effort – to find a valid email address he could use to reach me. People trying to reach Verizon customers do not in general have this option. I should note, with great sadness, that the UK's Demon Internet, once a champion of net.freedoms, provides spam-blocking but no user-configurable controls beyond opt-in or opt-out, which I find shameful, especially given the ISP's history.
Fourth: my agent submitted me for whitelisting on January 19, and despite Verizon's claim that the problem should be solved within 48 hours, I'm still blocked.
It is utterly legitimate for Verizon to try to please its customers by cutting down the amount of junk they receive. Whether the Old Net likes it or not, most people want the junk weeded out for them, even if the anti-spam efforts inflict worse damage on the Internet than the spam itself does. There is a lot of pressure on ISPs to provide blocking. But there is no requirement for ISPs to be stupid about how they do it. Or greedy – Verizon's tech support told my agent she could be let out of the blocking if she paid to upgrade to a domain name of her own.
Verizon could have done a number of things. It could have installed filters like SpamAssassin or Brightmail and given users individual control over what mail they chose to receive. It could have sent a letter or email to all their customers explaining that they were installing spam blocking and outlining what they expected to block, and given customers the right to opt in or out of the service. They could have used existing real-time blacklists, choosing ones that at least provide some information about what criteria they use to create their lists.
Instead, it blocked Europe and suggested that anyone who had a problem with that "might want to make a phone call". Wonder how many of the people they've blocked are shareholders. µ
Wendy M. Grossman’s Web site has an extensive archive of her books, articles, and music, and an archive of all the earlier columns in this series. She has an intermittent blog. Readers are welcome to post there or to send email, but please turn off HTML.
Britain’s largest defense firm, BAE Systems, has sealed a long-debated US$5.4 billion deal with the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the building of two aircraft carriers that will be the largest ships in the British Royal Navy’s arsenal. On Monday, the Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) unit of US-based Halliburton was chosen to coordinate the construction of the aircraft carriers. BAE had been slated for the project back in January 2003, but had since threatened to pull out of the deal when it seemed that the controversial Halliburton group would take over a significant part of the project. The announcement made by British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon on Monday described KBR’s role as that of "physical integrator", according to a report in the Guardian daily. An unnamed industry source told Reuters on Monday that the MoD had agreed to limit KBR’s powers, pacifying BAE. KBR’s role will reportedly be limited to advising the MoD and overseeing financial controls, timetables, and planning. The carriers are being designed by Paris-based Thales Group. There had also been much debate over the participation of KBR at a time when its parent company, Halliburton - which has close ties to the White House - is being investigated for corruption. Critics had also voiced concerns because the US company has no track record in shipbuilding. However, the British MoD had said that because of the magnitude of the aircraft carrier project and BAE’s past mistakes, it wished to involve external management. The 60’000-ton aircraft carriers will not only be the largest in the British Royal Navy, but the largest in Europe. The first carrier is slated to be delivered in 2012 and the second in 2015.The Charles De Gaulle: 38,000 tons. Here's a nice Google News search to entertain you; the upshot is that Kellogg, Brown and Root will be managing and BAE Systems will be building, the reason being that the UK Ministry of Defence doesn't trust BAE much after previous foul-ups. From 2002: BAE Systems : sinking fast and from 2004: Can BAE and MoD put an end to their feud?
A co-defendant, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, was found guilty of conspiracy for plotting to kill and kidnap persons in a foreign country by publishing an edict urging the killing of Jews and their supporters. A third defendant, Arabic interpreter Mohamed Yousry, was convicted of providing material support to terrorists. Sattar could face life in prison and Yousry up to 20 years.From A Blog For All: We Find the Defendant Guilty As Charged
Criminologists and psychologists have been hard put to explain why certain individuals commit horrific crimes, but now some leading US scientists have concluded a few psychopaths are simply evil.The researchers classify as evil "people who commit breathtaking acts, who do so repeatedly, who know what they're doing, and are doing it in peacetime.." But what was Mengele if not evil? And since not all wars involve genocide or willing executioners who take joy in torture and killing, I don't understand how we can apply this definition of evil to peacetime only. Isn't the everyday small evils that bring about the bigger ones?
The diagnosis was reported on Tuesday in the New York Times, revealing that a group of scientists at New York University had come up with a depravity scale to help explain criminal savagery that defies usual psychological explanation or treatment.
While much of the public may think it natural to call vicious serial killers who cannibalise their victims "evil", psychiatrists have always avoided the term since it implies a moral rather than a clinical judgment.
Criminal psychologists talk morality
The Talon News correspondent at the center of a scandal over his White House press credentials quit last night amid a growing online investigation into his history, including allegations of involvement with several websites appearing to support gay pornography and promote male prostitution.Well, the left-wing blogosphere comes into its own as it finally claims its first scalp. Welcome to a taste of the blog power that lastingly lashed into Lott, Rather, Kerry, CBS, the New York Times and lots of other institutions.
Jeff Gannon (a pseudonym) announced last night via his personal website that he had found it "no longer possible to effectively be a reporter for Talon News. In consideration of the welfare of me and my family I have decided to return to private life."
It's this "private life" that may have precipitated Gannon's departure. In the last week, Investigative bloggers at World O'Crap, Daily Kos and Eschaton have dug up evidence that implicates Gannon as the owner of web domains hotmilitarystud.com, militaryescorts.com, and militaryescortsm4m.com, which are registered under the same owner as Gannon's home page www.jeffgannon.com. Two of the three web addresses are no longer active. The third, hotmilitarystud.com, requires registration before viewing the content. It now appears that the person registered as the individual owner of these domains, James "JD" Guckert, is in fact Gannon, according to investigative bloggers at Eschaton and elsewhere.
One hour prior to his resignation, MediaCitizen sent an interview request to the now former correspondent. As part of the request, I outlined a series of questions regarding Gannon's background in journalism, his relationship to members of the White House staff, to Talon News' parent company GOPUSA, as well as to the Wilmington company, Bedrock Corporation, which is the registered owner of the websites in question. Gannon resigned within an hour of receiving these questions. This was MediaCitizen's second request for an interview as a follow up to an earlier report.
Gannon's decision to leave Talon News may be related to the news site's frequent homophobic stance on issues pertaining to gay rights, marriage and adoption. A recently discovered photo, allegedly depicting the former correspondent, suggests a potential conflict between his lifestyle and the beliefs shared by his colleagues at the conservative news site. For their part, Talon News removed Gannon's bio from their website at the beginning of this controversy, nearly two weeks ago. Here's the cached bio. While blog investigators at Daily Kos claim that the image in question depicts Gannon, this has yet to be confirmed.
We needn't take the issue of Gannon's lifestyle any further. This is not a story about sexual orientation but about the viability of our Fourth Estate in the face of increasing efforts to disguise propaganda as straight news. By acting as a White House shill -- lobbing softball questions to Press Secretary McLellan and President Bush and posting, wholesale, administration press releases as "news" -- Gannon rightly came under harsh scrutiny. You can view Gannon in action via this link on CSPAN.
His decision to leave Talon News was his own, but it was aided along by a well mobilized blogosphere, intent on shedding more light on this man's duplicitous role as a White House "correspondent."
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3:00pm Update: It's still unclear what Gannon's real name is, which raises another question: How does someone operating under a pseudonym gain such close access to the President of the United States? Surely, someone within the Congressional Press Galleries and Secrete Service does background checks on all credentialed and "day pass" journalists. Somewhere along the line someone inside the White House knew Gannon wasn't Gannon, but they gave him a waiver anyway. Were special favors granted to Gannon that wouldn't have been granted to a real journalist?
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3:30pm Update: Once again, Talon News has "scrubbed" its site. Apparently, we were sending too many people to their homophobic reporting (stories linked to in the fifth paragraph above). They have removed the stories in question along with other material describing their relationship with Gannon. Thankfully, one of Mediacitizen's readers alerted me to the scrubbing and pointed me to an archive where they may now be read. I have re-inserted these new links above.
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8:00 pm Update: NPR's "All things Considered" has broadcast an interview with Gannon that also features some comments on the matter from me. They've posted the segment on their website. There, you also can listen to the complete, unedited interview with Gannon -- very strange -- or read the transcript here. More than anything, he comes across as someone way out of his depth.
Even before elections in Iraq, it was a foregone conclusion that Shiites would come out of the process the dominant community. Yet, a more urgent question being posed today in the Middle East is, What happens to Shiites throughout the region once their brethren fully inherit Iraq?Overstating the Shiite Monolith