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Archive for Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Nation Briefs

December 5, 2001

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Florida: Shuttle launch delayed

Rain clouds over the launch pad forced NASA to call off Tuesday's liftoff of space shuttle Endeavour on a flight to deliver a new crew to the international space station.

It was the latest delay for Endeavour and its seven astronauts, held up last week by space station trouble. Launch managers said they would try again today.

Endeavour was supposed to blast off last Thursday but had to wait for the space station's residents to clear a jammed docking mechanism. Monday's spacewalking repairs allowed an unmanned Russian supply ship to finally latch itself firmly to the orbiting outpost.

Washington: Computer virus deletes anti-virus programs

Anti-virus companies scrambled to protect their customers against a destructive e-mail attack Tuesday that purported to be a computer screen saver.

Security company McAfee reported that thousands of its clients sent in copies of the worm, called "Goner." An Internet worm can spread to other computers on its own.

The e-mail has a subject line of "Hi," and asks the user to check an attached screen saver program.

If the recipient runs the screen saver, the computer becomes infected. Like many e-mail attacks, it sends itself to everyone in the victim's address book. It can also send itself through the instant messaging program ICQ.

Goner also affects Microsoft's Outlook and Outlook Express e-mail programs on computers running Windows. Goner also attempts to delete critical files for any security or anti-virus program the victim might have installed.

Computer experts advise that people not open unexpected e-mail attachments. Computer users should update their antivirus software at least weekly.

Washington, D.C.: PCB dredging ordered

The Bush administration on Tuesday ordered tons of PCBs removed from New York's upper Hudson River, setting in motion one of the largest dredging operations in the nation's history.

General Electric Co., which dumped 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the river before the substance was banned by the federal government in 1977, bitterly opposes dredging. The cleanup is expected to cost the company some $500 million.

GE released PCBs from its plants in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, about 40 miles north of Albany. The cleanup will include locations in that stretch, reaching almost down to the capital.

Washington, D.C.: House passes measure on telemarketing calls

Telemarketers would be prohibited from blocking their identification on a consumer's caller ID box under a bill passed by the House Tuesday.

The bill, which passed by a voice vote, comes after people who use caller ID devices to screen or trace calls complained that many telemarketers' numbers did not appear on the devices. Without the name of a company or the number, the person targeted by a telemarketer cannot follow up with a complaint.

The House passed a similar bill last year. The Senate has yet to take up the measure.

The bill directs the Federal Communications Commission to develop rules for implementing a ban. Consumers would also be allowed to sue telemarketers who violate the ban.

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