I received no Bill from Minister Patterson

first_imgDear Editor,In a Kaieteur News article published on Saturday, May 14, 2016, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson was quoted as saying that I had been furnished with a copy of the “Draft Bill on Aviation Safety Standards”. As the Opposition spokesperson on Public Infrastructure, I did not receive any such Bill sent either by way of email or hand delivery at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.Minister Patterson should therefore desist from misleading the public on this matter.Sincerely,Bishop Juan Edghill,Member of ParliamentPPP/Clast_img

Realistic constitutional change

first_imgThe launch of the “Reform, Inform, Sustain, Educate” (RISE) movement – a group of citizens ostensibly drawn from outside the two major political parties, the PPP and PNC, to press for “constitutional change” – has once again brought to the fore the vexed question of moving our politics out of the zero sum parameters in which it has been stuck for more than half a century. The PPP Government had initiated the process of constitutional change as early as 1995, when a Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC) was formed and hearings were held across the country as well as in a Parliamentary Select Committee.The process was interrupted by the 1997 elections, which the PPP won, according to all foreign and domestic observers. The PNC, however, claimed the poll was flawed, and launched massive street protests that segued into ethnically-directed riots and violence. The Caricom-brokered Herdmanston Accord of January 17, 1998 included an agreement to complete the reform of the 1980 Constitution.A new 20-person CRC acceptable to all parliamentary parties was assembled. It included individuals drawn from the widest possible cross-section of society. For six months, the CRC conducted hearings and took submissions from every Guyanese individual or organisation that expressed a wish to do so. Their more-than-4000 submissions were reviewed by a Parliamentary Joint Select Committee, which then winnowed out and furthered 182 recommendations (drawn from 32 subject areas) to the Oversight Committee of the National Assembly. The final changes were approved unanimously, in 2000, by all the parties in the National Assembly, including the PNC. This question must be raised: why, after 182 alterations were made to the 1980 Constitution, are there now new demands for changes?The most criticised feature of the 1980 Constitution had been the powers allocated to the Presidency: The President was a de facto dictator who, for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, had complete veto power over legislation. He could be president for life, and could hire and fire at will most public officials (Art 232), and determine the length of tenure of others whom he might not have even appointed. In the new Constitution, the powers of the President were diminished considerably, while those of the Opposition Leader and the Parliament were increased.The President’s power to fire was restricted only to those individuals not appointed by the Service Commissions, but the incumbent has now challenged this rule. On those offices he created, if their salaries are charged to the Consolidated Fund, the appointments must be reviewed by the National Assembly, but this requirement has lapsed.In critical constitutional appointments, such as the Commissioner of Police, the Chancellor of the Judiciary and the Chief Justice, the Opposition Leader’s agreement is necessary for confirmation. It is for this reason that some constitutional offices have been occupied by individuals in an “acting” capacity when there is no agreement. But experience has shown that all of these changes are still tested by Executive overreach when the consultation has reverted to being perfunctory.The Elections Commission had been the vehicle for rigging elections in the past, but the President had to now appoint its Chairman from a list submitted by the Opposition Leader. But this is now being challenged by the President, who has insisted on arbitrarily defining the constitutional stipulations.  It is clear that the powers of the Presidency have to be further curbed as a threshold issue; even the APNU/AFC Manifesto demanded this.There is no need to initiate wider changes at this time, since many of the other claimed “shortcomings” of the Constitution are actually the result of Executive overreach.RISE should not get caught up in trying to create a utopia via “constitutional change”, but merely put pressure on the Government to implement what it has already committed to in its manifesto and reiterated in the strongest possible language by the Prime Minister in the post-election period: reduce the powers of the Presidency in the areas the office holder has been abusing them.last_img read more

Govt looking for scapegoat to blame – Ramsammy

first_imgBittersweet sugar industryFormer Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy believes that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and APNU/AFC Government have to quickly find a scapegoat to blame for the dismal sugar production in 2016.He stated that they are in preparation mode to break the bad news of the poor production and to justify their plans to close sugar or to close some parts and privatise other parts.Former Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie RamsammyRamsammy noted that while Wales and LBI Estates are already due for closure this year and other closures are expected in 2017, Skeldon is to be privatised in another sweetheart deal that is “similar to the public health warehouse deal”.“APNU/AFC is now in full misinformation, distraction and blame mode. Professor Thomas, after praising Skeldon Sugar Factory at the end of 2015 and taking credit for an outstanding 2015 at Skeldon and the industry as a whole, announced last week that the Skeldon Factory is falling apart,” he said, highlighting that Government’s spokesperson Raphael Trotman is now blaming former President and present Opposition Leader Bharat Jagdeo and former President Ramotar for Skeldon’s and GuySuCo’s woes.However, he stated that both Jagdeo and Ramotar, far from blaming Booker Tate, tried to remedy the problems and overcome the challenges. “They recognised sugar was facing major challenges like climate change, need for mechanisation, expansion, modernisation and diversification. They knew specifically Skeldon suffered from a design flaw, both in the construction of the new factory and in the land conversion for mechanisation and expansion,” he said, adding that they recognised the experts had not made proper adjustments for drainage and irrigation for expanded cultivation.“This was trying to find solutions, not finding scapegoats,” he said further.Ramsammy stated that when Booker Tate, which was the contractor responsible for factory design and completing land conversion, failed to take necessary corrective action, GuySuCo sued Booker Tate. “That was not idle blaming, it was holding Booker Tate accountable. They were paid, they needed to deliver. Skeldon was not the wrong decision; Booker Tate made mistakes in the designs, some of which were reckless,” he declared. He stated that Trotman, Professor Thomas, and others must explain why GuySuCo has not continued the legal action against Booker Tate. He questioned if it had anything to do with the fact that Booker Tate’s representative on the board was Errol Hanoman, who is now at GuySuCo.“That GuySuCo, under instruction of APNU/AFC, is not pursuing accountability by Booker Tate is irresponsible and since Hanoman is now the CEO, it raises serious conflict of interest concerns,” he said, adding that Skeldon was the right investment decision to ensure sugar stays as a mainstay of Guyana’s economy into another century.last_img read more

Live Earth events rock around the globe

first_img Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas was among a handful of stars to write a song specifically about the climate crisis for Live Earth. “The world is dying,” he rapped. “If people say it’s all right, they’re lying.” The London show, like the gigs around the world, sought to raise awareness about climate change and backed by Gore, whose campaign to force global warming onto the international political stage inspired the event. With shows in New York, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Kyoto, Shanghai, Hamburg, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro – and even a performance by a five-piece band of scientists beamed from a research station in Antarctica – organizers promised Live Earth would be the biggest musical event ever staged, dwarfing the Live Aid and Live 8 concerts. The 24-hour music marathon started in Tokyo, Shanghai and Sydney, Australia, where the show opened with a traditional welcome by a group of white-painted Aboriginal tribal leaders. LONDON – Aboriginal elders, virtual-reality performers, a holographic Al Gore and more than 100 of the biggest names in music – including Madonna, the Police and Kanye West – were taking to the stage on seven continents today to fight climate change. The Material Girl was flaunting her eco-friendly side as the headliner of an eclectic show at London’s newly rebuilt Wembley Stadium that included the Beastie Boys, the Pussycat Dolls and the Black Eyed Peas. The drummers from Queen, the Foo Fighters and the Red Hot Chili Peppers began the London concert, leading a battery of percussion set to flashing images of endangered animals, landfill heaps, wind farms and the Earth seen from space. They performed against a map of the world made from the painted tops of oil barrels. The crowd – which was expected to swell to 65,000 – immediately rose to its feet as the reunited Genesis used its hit “Land of Confusion” to send an environmental message with Phil Collins urging fans to make the world “a place worth living in.” Live Earth was to wrap up later today with a New York show – actually held in nearby East Rutherford, N.J. – featuring The Police, Smashing Pumpkins, Alicia Keys and Bon Jovi. Gore made a live video appearance from Washington to open the first show on the other side of the world in Sydney. He took the technology a step further a few hours later, appearing on stage in Tokyo as a hologram. “Global warming is the greatest challenge facing our planet, and the gravest we’ve ever faced,” said Gore, who in his holographic appearance wore the suit in sight. “But it’s one problem we can solve if we come together as one and take action and drive our neighbors, businesses and governments to act as well. That’s what Live Earth is all about.” For the most part, the diverse range of performers wholeheartedly backed the call. Organizers promised the huge shows were made eco-friendly by using recycled goods and buying carbon credits to offset the inevitable high power bills. Critics say Live Earth lacks achievable goals, and that jet-setting rock stars whose amplifier stacks chew through power may send mixed messages about energy conservation. Many of the stars were jetting off to perform separate shows afterward. On her tour last year, Madonna produced an estimated 485 tons of carbon dioxide in four months, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported. In Sydney, an estimated 50,000 people grooved through a set by former professional surfer-cum singer-guitarist Jack Johnson, banged their heads to afro-haired 1970s retro rockers Wolfmother, and gave a re-formed Crowded House a rapturous homecoming. “This is so cool,” Neil Finn, the singer-guitarist who penned the band’s 1987 breakthrough “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and other hits. “We are the groundswell.” When a glitch cut the massive on-stage light display backdrop two songs before the end, Finn didn’t miss a beat. “As long as the PA’s going, everything’s all right,” he said. “Who needs lights anyway? Finn, like others on the bill, said Saturday’s event drew a line in the sand for rock concerts: from now on, offsetting the carbon emissions caused by powering big shows must be factored in to the cost of putting them on. In Tokyo, Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington said in halting Japanese that the U.S. rap-metal act had joined the show “because we can make a difference if we only try.” “Linkin Park will try to have environment-friendly concert tour,” he said. The Tokyo concert kicked off with a high-tech, laser- and light-drenched performance by virtual-reality act Genki Rockets. Later, popular Japanese singer Ayaka urged fans to take up the concerts’ theme of changing their daily habits as a first step to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. In Shanghai, a lineup of largely local acts was joined by British singer Sarah Brightman. The show was less a concert than a made for television event, with an audience of just 3,000, seated on bleachers arranged before the riverside Oriental Pearl television tower. Aboriginal tribal leaders with white-painted bodies and shaking eucalyptus fronds were the first to take the stage in Sydney, singing and dancing a traditional welcome to the sounds of a didgeridoo, a wind pipe made from a hollow tree branch. Problems and changes to the series continued right down to the last minute. A ninth concert – in Washington, D.C. – was added Friday, and a Brazilian judge rejected a last-minute bid to shut down South America’s Live Earth concert after a prosecutor had argued safety could not be guaranteed for an audience of 700,000 on Rio’s Copacabana beach. Bob Geldof, who organized the Live Aid and Live 8 anti-poverty concerts, thought Gore’s energies were misplaced. “I hope they’re a success,” Geldof said. “But why is he (Gore) actually organizing them? To make us aware of the greenhouse effect? Everybody’s known about that problem for years. We are all … conscious of global warming.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Not-quite organic fetches more cash

first_imgBut higher costs don’t appear to be deterring growers from changing their practices. The organic food industry has been growing about a 20 percent clip annually. In just the first six months of 2007, 130 growers in Washington state alone applied to be certified as organic operations. According to a Washington State University study, organic tree fruit acreage in the state is expected to increase by 54 percent by 2008. Stemilt expects its organic tree fruit acreage to double by 2009. At southeast Washington’s Graystone Orchards north of Pasco, a handful of farmworkers weave through a field of nectarine trees, selectively picking the fattest, juiciest fruit for harvest. Several rows over, acres of peaches and pluots await picking. PASCO, Wash. – A major fruit company has decided to convert 100 percent of its stone-fruit trees to organic farming practices, part of the ongoing push to meet consumers’ insatiable demand for healthier food. But Stemilt Growers Inc., a bit player in the stone-fruit industry but one of the nation’s leading apple suppliers, isn’t waiting two years to capitalize on the switch. The company has created a new label – Artisan Naturals – to sell its naturally farmed fruit, an effort to get a higher price for the fruit even if it can’t yet come with an “organic” sticker. “It’s a fact that the organic market has exploded,” said Lorna Christie, senior vice president of industry products and services for the Produce Marketing Association in Newark, Del. “Connecting your product to the consumers’ demands or preferences – that’s what this is all about. And it’s not a bad strategy.” To be certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, growers must raise their crop free of bug killer or fertilizer for three years. Agricultural experts estimate the costs for growers at as much as 30 percent higher during the transition, and growers rarely get a higher return for the fruit during that time. The orchard is in its second year of transition to organic, but the fruit will be sold under Stemilt’s Artisan Naturals label, promoting its naturally farmed history. “On produce, food safety is an expectation, and I think the organic sector has higher expectations, and we understand that, but we think for naturally farmed products, the first expectation is flavor,” said Roger Pepperl, Stemilt director of marketing. “We get a little more because it’s a premium product, and we position it as being a premium product. “But people assume good things when they hear natural, naturally farmed,” he said. Sounds like Stemilt has done its homework, Christie said. Surveys show that while consumers want to eat healthy, flavor and taste remain the leading factors in their product choice. “Everyone’s looking for the tomato that tastes like their grandmother’s garden,” she said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if some companies started creating subbrands to note the special care and handling that might be provided to a transitional product.” Jon Alegria, vice president and director of operations for CPC International Apple Co. in Tieton, said he’s heard mixed reviews about the idea in recent years. The company, which packs apples, peaches and nectarines, has been certified organic for about seven years, and about 8 percent of its product is organic. “I’ve heard some cases where there is a premium for transitional fruit, but I’ve not seen it. They’ve been paying what they would for conventional,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t deals or marketing plans out there. Makes a lot of sense, to be honest with you.” An estimated 3 percent of all grocery-store sales are organic products, but only about half of 1 percent of U.S. farmland is certified organic. Demand is outpacing supply, and government policies don’t do enough to encourage farmers to increase their costs to raise organic crops, said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the nonprofit Organic Consumers Association in Finland, Minn. The solution is to pay a premium during their three-year transition period. “You need a label that says transition to organic, that would mean a farmer or producer has signed a contract with one of USDA’s certifiers,” Cummins said. Others counter that most consumers aren’t savvy enough to know the difference between conventional or transitional fruit, and that stops most retailers from taking the extra effort to differentiate it. “Even if we’re selling directly to retail, they may be put some point-of-sale stuff out there that says it’s transitional, but until they see the seal on it, they’re probably not going to get the margin that would allow them to sell it for more,” said Sara Clow, domestic commodity manager for San Francisco-based Pacific Organic Produce, the largest organic tree fruit marketer in the country. Rather, Clow said, the effort is more on connecting buyers to the farmers, “trying to tell the story of the grower.” Transitional is a scientific term meaning almost, not quite, on the way to organic – and the flavor is there right now, Stemilt’s Pepperl said. “We’ve put a transitional label on the box, but that means nothing to anybody. Anybody who thinks it does is fooling themselves,” he said. “We sell the fruit on being naturally farmed because naturally farmed products produce fantastic flavors. And people buy fruit for how it tastes.” Stemilt is a smaller, niche player in the stone fruit market, where California produces much of the nation’s crop. But the company is a leading supplier of apples and expects as much as 25 percent of its apple crop to be organic in the next 10 years. Companies’ success during the run to organic will show in any extra returns while they’re in transition, Pepperl said. “And your prize, whether it’s big, small or the same, is going to come three years from now,” he said. “Either way, we’re going to sell all of our soft fruit right now one way or the other.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

The end of an antique era is near

first_img The councilwoman said although the city has done nothing official to designate the area as an antique district, it just evolved that way, and losing Penny Pinchers would be a blow. “The antique store owners are all friends, they are all in the same business and they kind of worked together,” she said. “People come from out of town to go there.” Williamson recalled finding a huge mirror with beveled glass years ago almost hidden in a remote corner of the store. “Now everybody who comes to my house says, ‘Oh my gosh, where did you get that mirror?”‘ Sharon Ruedy of Chatsworth, the owner of Shop Around the Corner, an antique store down Valley Fair, said Simi Valley’s antique shops attract customers from throughout the region. “We’re all very sad about (the Penny Pinchers move) because the more antique stores makes it a destination and gives people more variety,” she said. “It’s going to impact us. … Kathy established an antique center here years ago, and the other stores opened up.” She said Simi Valley has even attracted antique dealers who have shops in other cities but come here looking for bargains they can resell. Since the news of Ervin’s move was announced before Christmas many things for sale were marked down as much as 50 percent and she and the other vendors there sold thousands of items, leaving the shelves increasingly bare. Still, it’s almost impossible to imagine what’s available: antique china, stuffed animals, old-fashioned skis, a Columbia phonograph record player from the early 1900s, an antique wheelchair, English-style riding hats, an outboard motor, spinning wheels and early Disney character dolls. Ervin has used part of the store to sell her own items and rented space to other vendors to sell theirs. The variety in merchandise is astonishing, said customer Doug Wardlaw of Camarillo. “You almost can’t come here without finding something,” he said. Ervin recalled a case in the 1960s when a man brought her an old metal tray he wanted to sell for $8, and she put it up for $35. But it was purchased by another person who learned it was an antique tray once used in performing circumcisions. It was worth $10,000. Liz Kirby of Simi Valley was there recently looking at the half-price bargains. “I really only buy old stuff,” she said. “This place has a lot of variety but not a lot of high-end things. Every once in a while you find something that is dear.” Eric Leach, (805) 583-7602 eric.leach@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “It’s been wonderful. I’ve loved every minute of it and I’m not ready to retire,” said Ervin, 77. “I love the people I meet through the business, the customers and my vendors.” Simi Valley City Councilwoman Barbra Williamson said she has been shopping at Penny Pinchers for years, an experience she described as a journey back in time. “You go in there and you see your past, things from your childhood and your mother’s past,” she said. But it is natural as Simi Valley grows bigger and more prosperous for property to change hands, selling for higher prices and bringing higher rents, she said. “I am so sorry to hear Kathy is having this problem,” Williamson said. “I think it’s a sign of the times.” SIMI VALLEY – Antique hunters are waiting to see what will become of Penny Pinchers, a huge emporium in the middle of Simi Valley where shoppers enter a time warp, unsure of what they will find. Kathy Ervin, who traded thousands of goods from the past in her sprawling 17,200-square-foot complex, has to move by the end of the month because the building was purchased by a man who wants to use the space for his mortgage and real estate business. Some of her supporters hope she can move nearby because the neighborhood has become Simi Valley’s unofficial antique district. Since Penny Pinchers, at 4265 Valley Fair St., opened in the late 1960s, several antique stores have settled around Valley Fair and Los Angeles Avenue near Tapo Street. last_img read more

Sandra Bullock’s Old Stalker Killed Himself in a Police Standoff

first_imgIt’s not clear if his violation had anything to do with Sandra. Back in 2014, a guy named Joshua Corbett was convicted of stalking SANDRA BULLOCK.  He was given five years’ probation and told to get mental health counseling. Well, yesterday police went to serve Corbett with a warrant related to a probation violation, and he ended up in a five-hour standoff with police and SWAT officers.  Instead of giving in, he chose to end his own life.  He was 42. He was also ordered to stay away from Sandra for 10 years. He had broken into Sandra’s home while she was there, prompting her to call 911, telling them she was locked in her closet behind a “safe door.”  (You can listen to that call here.)last_img

21% of Americans Are Online Almost Constantly

first_imgOne in five Americans are online “almost constantly,” while 42 percent go online several times a day, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.Almost three out of four Americans go online daily while 13 percent go online several times a week. Another 13 percent say they don’t use the Internet at all. Released today, the Pew Research Center report is based on a survey conducted June 10 to July 12, 2015. For the first time, the Pew Research Center survey included the response option of “almost constantly” for adults to report the frequency of their Internet usage. When age is considered, 36 percent of 18 to 29 year olds go online “almost constantly” while only six percent of adults 65 years and older go online “almost constantly.” Key TakeawaysFor adults without mobile devices, 65% go online daily with eight percent reporting they go online “almost constantly”College-educated adults, non-rural adults, and adults in higher-income households report going online frequentlyTwenty-nine percent of adults with a college education or more go online almost constantly (89 percent go online daily) vs 14 percent of those with a high school education or lessAlmost one-third (28 percent) of adults with an annual household income of $75,000+ use the Internet almost constantly (91% use it daily) vs 16 percent of those from households of less than $30,000Urban and suburban adults are more likely to be online constantly than those who live in rural areasNearly one-quarter (23 percent) of urban and suburban adults use the Internet almost constantly vs 14 percent of rural adultsI was intrigued to learn how many people surveyed said they’re constantly online, but I’m curious what it means to be “constantly online.” When I was at a recent conference, a speaker asked how many people could go a day without using their smartphone. Less than 10 percent of the attendees raised their hands. (Yes, I was one of them.) It didn’t surprise me to learn urban and suburban Americans are online more frequently than those who live in rural areas. Mobile connection to the Internet is much easier to find in a metropolitan area than say in the rural areas of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.Did any of the survey results surprise you?Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading…RelatedOne in Ten Americans Own a Smartphone, But Don’t Have Any Other High-Speed Internet ConnectionFor one in ten Americans, a smartphone is their only access to the Internet. No broadband service is available at home other than their smartphone data plan, according to the U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015 report. Released earlier this week, the report is based on a series of surveys conducted…In “Internet”Digital Readiness: 52% of American Adults Use the Internet for Personal LearningMore than half of American adults have used the Internet for personal learning, but only 16 percent have taken an online course in the past 12 months, according to the Digital Readiness Gaps report. Released last week, the report is based on a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center…In “Internet”31% of American Adult Cellphone Users Never Turn Their Phone OffAlmost one in three American adult cellphone users never turn their phone off, while 45 percent rarely turn off their phone. And when age is considered, cellphone users under the age of 50 rarely turn their phone off, according to Americans’ Views on Mobile Etiquette. Released earlier this week, the…In “Internet”last_img read more

Gauteng in R11bn highway upgrade

first_img14 May 2008The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has awarded seven contracts for the first phase of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement project, which will see 125.5 kilometres of highways in the highly urbanised province being upgraded at a cost of R11.5-billion.“Traffic in the Gauteng area has reached the stage where heavy congestion inhibits economic growth, leads to frustration and loss of productivity of road users, and damages the environment through excessive emissions,” said Sanral in a statement last week.These follow an earlier contract awarded for the upgrade of the N1 between the R21 interchange and Atterbury Interchange, east of Pretoria, where construction is currently well under way.Over the next 36 months, contractors appointed by Sanral will upgrade the N1 from Soweto to the N4 in Pretoria, the N3 from Alberton to Buccleuch, sections of the N12 south of Johannesburg, as well as the N12 from Gillooly’s interchange to the R21 to Boksburg.“The project is an example of co-operation through the various spheres of government, with involvement of Ekhuruleni (East Rand), Tshwane (Greater Pretoria) and Johannesburg metros, the provincial and national governments,” Sanral pointed out.Works ‘substantially’ complete for 2010While the highway upgrades have been prioritised to ensure substantial completion ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, a temporary suspension in remaining works has been scheduled between 28 May and 14 July 2010, as not to disrupt traffic flow during the tournament.The project will involve the provision of additional lanes, interchange improvements and implementing an intelligent transport management system – which involves highway cameras, ramp metering and electronic signage.The newly upgraded highways will include high occupancy vehicle lanes, which can be integrated with routes used by bus rapid transport systems, buses, trains and taxis, to promote the use of public transport.Although disruption to traffic is to be expected during the construction phase, the agency is to make every attempt to minimise disruption, and to keep the maximum number of lanes open, particularly at peak hours.Bearing the safety of both road users and construction workers in mind, the agency is urging the public to drive carefully through construction sites that will be policed, adhere to temporary speed limits and not to slow down to look at construction activities.“The long-term benefits will more than compensate for the temporary inconvenience of construction activities and we appeal to the public to exercise extreme caution on the entire network during construction,” Sanral said.SAinfo reporter Would you like to use this article in your publicationor on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Sophos Researcher Calls Out Microsoft for Questionable Security Stats [Updated]

first_imgRelated Posts Tags:#Microsoft#NYT#security#web Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… dan rowinskicenter_img Earlier this week Microsoft Development blogs posted an update about its SmartScreen Application Reputation ranking software for Internet Explorer. In the post, Microsoft had some statistics about users downloading malicious Web applications and the pop-up warnings that IE delivers to users warning them about potentially harmful downloads.Chet Wisniewski of Sophos Security is calling shenanigans on Microsoft’s statistics. In a blog post on Sophos’ blog, Naked Security, Wisniewski says, “Microsoft is comparing Apples to…nothing.” Microsoft’s post says that users get two pop-up warnings a year, which Wisniewski says means that IE users make 20 downloads a year. Wisniewski looks at these numbers and thinks something is not quite right in Microsoft land.“I do not believe most computer users are equipped with the knowledge necessary to make good decisions regarding deeply technical problems,” Wisniewski writes.“I don’t know anyone who only downloads 20 files per year,” Wisniewski writes. “These numbers just don’t really add up.”Microsoft concludes that one out of every 14 downloads made by IE users is malicious. It concludes that users are falling prey to phishing and targeted malware attacks much more than drive-by exploits (such as happening to visit an infected site).Update: Microsoft’s public relations firm got in touch with us to try and add clarification. Here is what they had to say: “Microsoft blog post actually says “1 out of every 14 programs downloaded is later confirmed as malware.” I take this to mean 1 in 14 executable downloads are malicious which would affect the other mathematical statements made in the Sophos blog post.”“SmartScreen itself is unable to prevent exploits from convincing Adobe Reader, iTunes, Real Player, Adobe Flash, Java and other technologies from downloading malicious content, and Microsoft hasn’t presented any data on how often exploits are actually being used,” Wisnieski writes.When is a Pop-Up Warning Really Malicious?Microsoft says that over 90% of user downloads do not trigger a warning and of those warnings, 30% to 75% of the time the warnings are false positives. This begs the questions – if three out of every four times you get the pop-up warning and it there is truly nothing wrong with the file you are downloading, why even bother heeding the warning?Yet, not all download circumstances are identical. For instance, say you download a particular file from Adobe quite often and know that it is safe. Every so often you get a warning from IE telling you it is not. You know that is not true so you click through anyway. Yet, there may be times that you are on a site you do not know and have little reason to trust. Are you still going to click through a pop-up warning to get at something you think you want?Microsoft says that the malware it finds with its reputation rankings and the subsequent pop-up warnings lead to users not downloading and running the malicious software 99% of the time.Wisniewski does not trust the average computer user to know the difference.“I do not believe most computer users are equipped with the knowledge necessary to make good decisions regarding deeply technical problems,” he writes. “When they are confronted with a question attempting to stop them from making a mistake it is often viewed as an annoying roadblock.”Microsoft has been running data on malware for the SmartScreen Application Reputation program in its lead up to the release of IE9. It is a community reputation engine where users can submit malicious links to the database to be incorporated into the browsing experience. Reputation ranking is not new to security on the Web. Symantec and other companies run every malware exploit they come across through a reputation database, and community reputation company Web of Trust just teamed with Facebook to protect users. This post was updated May 25, 2011 at 10:48 EST with information from Microsoft. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more