Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Iran hangs woman for murdering love rival

Iran hanged a woman convicted of murdering a love rival, her lawyer told the official IRNA news agency

Tehran: Iran on Wednesday hanged a woman convicted of murdering a love rival, her lawyer told the official IRNA news agency.

Shahla Jahed was hanged at 5:00 am (01:30 GMT) after the verdict was confirmed by the supreme court and the judiciary chief, lawyer Abdolsamad Khoramshahi said.
The London-based rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday called on Iran to halt Jahed's execution, saying "there are good reasons to suggest that she may have been wrongly convicted."
Jahed, who had a so-called "temporary" marriage with Nasser Mohammad Khani, a former striker for the Iranian national team, was convicted of stabbing to death his "permanent" wife eight years ago.
In the Shiite faith that is the majority religion in Iran, men and women can marry for an agreed period of time. Afterwards, the marriage is null and void, although it can be renewed.
Men can have up to four permanent wives, and any number of temporary wives. Women can only be married to one man at a time.
Amnesty said that in early 2008 the judiciary overturned the verdict and ordered a fresh investigation, citing "procedural flaws." However, Jahed was again sentenced to death in February 2009.
Khani was a prominent Iranian footballer in the 1980s and late became a coach for Tehran's Persepolis football club.
The execution is the 146th so far this year, according to an AFP count based on media reports. At least 270 people were executed in 2009.
The Islamic republic says the death penalty is essential to maintain law and order and is applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.
Murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery are all punishable by death in Iran.

10 All-Natural Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Do you have trouble falling asleep at night but dread the idea of taking sleeping pills and dealing with potential side effects? If you’re looking for alternate ways to induce the zzz’s, here are some natural remedies that can help lull you into dreamland. Photo: © Thinkstock
Mela…what? This natural hormone, which is made by the body’s pineal gland, is available over the counter, and many health experts say it can safely help you get drowsy before bed (it may even have immune-stimulating and antioxidant benefits, too). But, as with all herbal and natural remedies, it’s best to get your doctor’s OK first. “High levels of melatonin may raise the level of another hormone, prolactin, aggravating the risk of depression or infertility,” says
 Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, an internist and the author of From Fatigued to Fantastic!“Although I don’t know of any danger yet from using melatonin in higher doses, I would only use a dose higher than a half-milligram under close supervision of your doctor.”
Awareness Breathing
Does your mind race with thoughts and worries in bed? Your play-by-play of the day’s activities may increase anxiety and fuel insomnia. Instead, try simmering your mind down, focusing on each breath and how it travels through your body. As it turns out, this type of conscious or awareness breathing may help you get to sleep faster, say experts. “Breathing techniques help turn off the mental chatter,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. “Focusing on breathing is relaxing and a good way to disconnect from the stresses of life.” How does it work? By following the air as it moves in and out of your lungs, your mind, which generally can only focus on one thing at a time, will be occupied with your breath—not your anxieties. And it’s not as intimidating as it sounds. Simply take slow and steady—deep—breaths, focusing your thought on the natural inhale-exhale rhythm, and watch as your body and mind calm down.
What can a few downward-facing dogs do for your sleep quality? A lot, say researchers. Past studies have found a correlation between yoga practice and decreased symptoms of insomnia, including one study from Harvard Medical School researchers, who found that daily 30- to 45-minute yoga sessions significantly improved symptoms for those suffering from chronic insomnia. In another recent University of Rochester study looking at cancer survivors, a demographic that frequently reports sleep disturbances, researchers found that the movement, breathing and mindfulness of yoga significantly improved the quality of the study participants’ sleep.
This exotic-sounding herbal supplement is commonly used throughout South America for help with sleep and relaxation—it’s even found in some sodas. “A number of studies support its calming effect,” says Dr. Teitelbaum, who also points to evidence that the herb may have pain-relieving qualities, helping to control muscle spasms, and even menstrual pains. Passionflower (also known as passiflora) is available over the counter at most health food and drug stores that carry herbal supplements. Dr. Teitelbaum recommends taking 90 to 360 mg of the extract at bedtime to help with insomnia.
Total Darkness
Of course you turn off the lights before dozing off (you do, right?). But if there’s still a flicker of light in your bedroom, from streetlights outside, your husband’s book light, the dim hue of the television, and so on, it may be time to make some changes. Researchers have long known that too much light can affect your sleep cycles, disrupting restful sleep. But now a new study from researchers at Ohio State University reports that too much light can disrupt your body’s natural clock so much that even the dimmest light in the bedroom may lead to weight gain. Banish excessive light in your bedroom by turning off the TV; try to avoid falling asleep with lamps or even bright nightlights on; and consider investing in blackout shades (purchased inexpensively at any department store), which can eliminate outside lights better than blinds or curtains.
When counting sheep won’t work, maybe meditation will. Meditation—defined as simply focusing on a calming, peaceful image or thought—may help you get sleepy fast. Here’s why, says Dr. Teitelbaum: It stimulates “alpha brainwave activity followed by theta brainwave activity. In effect, this is slowing down the frequency of your brainwaves, the same process that occurs when one moves from waking to light and then to deep sleep.” New to meditation? It’s a cinch! Just get comfortable, take deep breaths through your nose, and let your mind go quiet for a while. After a few moments, your mind may start becoming distracted (thinking of things that happened during the day) and when it does, focus on each breath to draw you back to a place of peace and calm.
You’ve heard of Valium, a powerful sedative, but how about the herbal supplement known as valerian? “Valerian’s effectiveness has been compared to a Valium family medication (oxazepam), without the ‘hung-over’ feeling present with most Valium medications,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. “It is commonly used as a remedy for insomnia, and a number of studies show numerous benefits, including an improvement in deep sleep, speed of falling asleep and quality of sleep without next-day sedation.” In these studies, the benefits were most pronounced when people used valerian for extended periods of time, as opposed to simply taking it for one night. Dr. Teitelbaum also adds that in about 10 percent of people, valerian may have an energizing effect. How much is safe? Dr. Teitelbaum suggests taking 200 to 800 mg of the extract before bedtime. “Most studies suggest that it is more effective when used continuously rather than as an acute sleep aid. It has a calming effect and can be used during the day for anxiety as well.” As with any alternative medication, be sure to talk to your doctor before using.
Could the secret to great sleep be in what you…smell? “Many essentials oils not only help you fall asleep quickly, they also induce a higher quality of sleep,” says
 Cher Kore, a Boston-based professional aromatherapist and instructor. “If you wake during the night due to noise or a full bladder, many scents may lull you back to sleep.” Her top picks? Roman chamomile, which has a bright, apple-like scent; clary sage, with its rich, sweet scent; and the floral notes of geranium and lavender (all available inexpensively at most health food stores). “The best method is to put two to three drops of essential oils on your pillow, under the pillowcase,” she says. Refresh the drops on your pillow every few days to once a week—about as often as you wash your sheets.
Warm Bath
Don’t forget about the power of a simple pre-bedtime bath to get you in a groggy state. “A bath causes your muscles to relax,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. But it’s what a bath does for your nervous system that may really help. “There are two main parts of our nervous system,” he explains, “the sympathetic nervous system, which is the adrenaline part described as the ‘fight or flight reaction,’ and the parasympathetic nervous system, described as ‘the old man after dinner.’ Shifting from the adrenaline to the relaxed part of the nervous system is critical for entering into sleep, and a hot bath shifts your brain into sleep mode.” It’s best to take a bath before bedtime but give yourself about a half-hour before hitting the hay for your body’s natural thermostat to cool. “Your body has to then cool down to go into deep sleep,” notes Dr. Teitelbaum. Setting the thermostat in your bedroom no higher than 65 degrees can also help.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
You’re lying in bed wide awake, staring at the digits changing on your alarm clock…now what? Try something called progressive muscle relaxation, suggests Dr. Teitelbaum, a practice that involves using the mind and body simultaneously to induce sleep. Here’s how to do it: “Starting with the muscles in your feet and slowly moving up to your calves, thighs, pelvis, abdomen, chest, neck, head and face muscles, relax the muscles in each area, one group at a time,” he says. “People find that they can induce a very deep state of relaxation using this approach, and often fall asleep in the middle of the process.” You can practice this technique in any sleep position; the key is to pick one you are most comfortable in, then relax your muscle groups from there.

Too much TV, computers bad even for active children: study

NEW YORK - More than two hours a day spent watching television or playing computer games could put a child at greater risk for psychological problems regardless of their activity levels, according to a British study.

Researchers from the University of Bristol studied more than 1,000 children aged 10 and 11.
Over seven days, the children filled out a questionnaire reporting how much time they spent daily in front of a television or computer and answering questions describing their mental state -- including emotional, behavioral, and peer-related problems. Meanwhile, an accelerometer measured their physical activity.
The odds of significant psychological difficulties were about 60% higher for children spending longer than two hours a day in front of either screen compared with those exposed to less screen time, the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.
For children with more than two hours of both types of screen time during the day, the odds more than doubled.
The researchers found these results held regardless of sex, age, stage of puberty, or level of educational or economic deprivation and also no matter how active the children were during the rest of the day. "We know that physical activity is good for both physical and mental health in children and there is some evidence that screen viewing is associated with negative behaviors," researcher Dr. Angie Page told Reuters Health.
"But it wasn't clear whether having high physical activity levels would 'compensate' for high levels of screen viewing in children."
The researchers found that psychological problems further increased if children fell short of an hour of moderate to rigorous daily exercise in addition to the increased screen time. However, physical activity did not appear to compensate for the psychological consequences of screen time.
The researchers said sedentary time itself was not related to mental well-being.
"It seems more like what you are doing in that sedentary time that is important," said Page, noting the lack of negative effect found for activities such as reading and doing homework.
Page and her team acknowledged several limitations in their study, including the potential for a child to inaccurately recall his or her activities when filling out the questionnaire.

'Possessed' girl in Zambo brought to church

ZAMBOANGA City – Relatives and neighbors brought a woman to a parish church to rid the evil spirit that allegedly possessed her on Tuesday night in Zamboanga City.
It took about 8 to 10 people to carry the woman to the St. Anthony of Padua parish in Barangay Putik.
Parish priest Father Teofilo Pimentel immediately offered a prayer for the woman. The priest said the prayers and blessings made the woman scream and twist to free herself.
Several minutes later, the woman calmed down.
The priest said it was possible that the woman was indeed possessed by an evil spirit. However, he is not discounting the possibility that the girl is suffering from psychological or emotional problems.
The priest added that he did not consider the woman’s condition as an exorcism case.
The family decided to spend the night inside the church. The family also declined to be identified, but added that it was the second time that their relative was possessed by an evil spirit. RJ Rosalado, ABS-CBN Zamboanga

Woman gives birth in Marikina City's service multicab

MANILA, Philippines - A woman gave birth to a baby boy inside the Marikina City Hall's service multicab on Monday night.
Security guard Raymundo Bautista said he found Mildred Odevillas and the baby inside the multicab parked in front of the city hall.
Bautista said the baby's umbilical cord was still intact.
"Noong flashlight ko may bata na akala ko nagpapahinga lang dito sa loob ng service. Tumawag kami agad ng 161," the security guard said, referring to the baby and the Marikina City government's 24-hour quick response group.
The city hall's response group rushed the mother and the baby to the nearest hospital.
Dr.Glen Usita said the baby was brought to the emergency room for observation. The mother has been declared out of danger, he said.
Authorities said that Odevillas came from Novaliches and was waiting for a jeepney ride to Antipolo City in front of the city hall.
The mother said that it started raining so she decided to take shelter in the multicab.
As of press time, the city hall's social workers said they were still locating Odevilla's relatives.-- Report from Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

The race to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022

On Thursday in Zurich, football's world governing body Fifa will announce the countries it has chosen to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022.
There are four bids on the table for the 2018 World Cup, with England hopeful of beating Spain/Portugal, Netherlands/Belgium and Russia for the right to host the competition for the first time since 1966.
Five bidders are vying for the 2022 tournament: Japan, Australia, United States of America, South Korea and Qatar.
Here is our guide to the contenders for both editions, starting with the four bids for 2018:
Main stadium: Wembley, 90,000 (London)
Last World Cup hosted:
Bid leader:
 Former FA chairman Geoff Thompson
Bid motto:
 England United, The World Invited
Famous face:
 David Beckham
David Beckham
Pros: The infrastructure is largely in place and there is an impressive network of stadiums. England also has historic appeal, with Fifa president Sepp Blatter calling it the "motherland" of football. England's bid team also believes it can drive up the commercial revenues of the event, aided by the international appeal of the Premier League.
Cons: The bid has been hampered by a spat with Russia, negative press from the British media and infighting at the Football Association. Former bid leader Lord Triesman also quit in May after he was secretly recorded making allegations about rival bids.
Say what? "If you ask the players where they wanted to play the World Cup in 2018, they would want to play it in this country" -Former England footballer Gary Lineker
Bid chief executive Andy Anson: "Just like Fifa, we believe in the power of football to open up new territories. A tournament in England will deliver a global legacy that will produce greater football and social benefits for more people than ever before."

Main stadium: Portugal - Estadio da Luz, 65,000 (Benfica); Spain - Santiago Bernabeu, 80,533 (Madrid)
Last World Cup hosted:
 Spain - 1982
Bid leaders:
 Spanish FA president Angel Maria Villar and Portuguese Football Federation president Gilberto Madail
Bid motto:
 We Play As A Team, United By Enthusiasm
Famous face:
 Luis Figo
Luis Figo
Pros: Spain's Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010-winning team, plus famous stadiums like the Camp Nou, the Bernabeu and the Estadio da Luz. Spanish FA president Angel Maria Villar has great contacts among Fifa voters and the bid is supported by the South American Conmebol bloc.
Cons: Allegations in a British newspaper of voting collusion with Qatar, though vigorously denied and dismissed by Fifa. Also, Fifa president Sepp Blatter is not generally keen on dual bids, while Portugal hosted the European Championship as recently as 2004.
Say what? "We have the infrastructure, food, hotels, tourism, climate. All this makes us a strong candidate to host the 2018 finals" - Former Portugal international Luis Figo
Bid chiefs Villar and Madail: "We have the backing of millions of fans of this wonderful sporting spectacle. We have presented a single bid with a single centre, which is Madrid. It's as if the whole of Iberia was one country."

Main stadium: Belgium - Brussels Stadium, 80,000 (Brussels); Netherlands - Feyenoord Stadium (de Kuip), 47,491 (Rotterdam)
Last World Cup hosted:
Bid leader:
 Dutch FA president Michael van Praag
Bid motto:
 Together For Great Goals
Famous faces:
 Johan Cruyff and Ruud Gullit
Ruud Gullit
Pros: Successfully hosted the European Championship in 2000. Backed by star power in the shape of Gullit and Cruyff. Promoting itself as the most environmentally friendly bid, with short journeys for spectators.
Cons: Fifa's dislike for co-hosts. Could be muscled out of the running by larger European rivals. Both countries have dense road networks, with traffic jams common.
Say what? "It will be the greenest World Cup ever with an environment protection plan the world has never seen before. We will try to give two million bikes to all the fans, so they can go everywhere" - Former Dutch footballer Ruud Gullit
Bid leader Van Praag: "Belgium and Dutch have well-behaved fans, facilities, security and political stability that make the two countries the best host for the job. The competition is stiff but we believe we can get the support we need."

Main stadium: Luzhniki Stadium, 78,360, (Moscow)
Last World Cup hosted:
Bid leader:
 Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko
Bid motto:
 Ready To Inspire
Famous face:
 Alexei Smertin
Alexei Smertin
Pros: The fact that Russia has never hosted the event could work in its favour. The bid has full government backing, a vast budget and has been described as "remarkable" by Blatter. Would open the country up to hundreds of thousands of foreigners.
Cons: Security could be a concern. So could the enormous distances between venues, resulting in plenty of air travel. Russia did not qualify for South Africa 2010, missing out on the chance to showcase their team and lobby Fifa officials.
Say what? "Playing at World Cups was the pinnacle of my career. To help to bring one to Russia would be an even greater personal achievement" - Former USSR goalkeeper Rinat Dasaev
Bid leader Mutko: "Soccer is the world's most popular sport, therefore it must leave a long-lasting legacy for a World Cup host. I think from that point of view Russia has a big edge over its rivals."

And the five contenders for the 2022 World Cup:
Main stadium: International Stadium, 72,000 (Yokohama)
Last World Cup hosted:
Bid leader:
 Japan Football Association president Motoaki Inukai
Bid motto:
 208 Smiles! (Inspired by the fact that Fifa has 208 member countries)
Famous face:
 Hidetoshi Nakata
Hidetoshi Nakata
Pros: The bid has plenty of cash and co-hosted a friendly and trouble-free World Cup in 2002, with the stadiums still in top condition. Strong line in innovation, illustrated by the use of an origami pop-out in their pitch to Fifa.
Cons: The fact that they were co-hosts as recently as 2002. Dropped bid for 2018 after Blatter strongly hinted it would go to a European country. Lack of government support.
Say what? "The 2002 World Cup was a fantastic tournament. The level of organisation and the passion of the fans were quite exceptional. A World Cup hosted by Japan in 2022 would be something... truly special" - Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni
Bid leader Inukai: "I was hoping Fifa would rate our proposal more than they did. We had much higher expectations."

Main stadium: Melbourne Cricket ground, 100,108 (Melbourne)
Last World Cup hosted:
Bid leader:
 Australian Football Federation chairman Frank Lowy
Bid motto:
 Come Play!
Famous face:
 Nicole Kidman
Nikole Kidman
Pros: A sport-mad nation with a proven history of staging successful sports events. Could have the appeal of spreading the game to new pastures. Star backing in the form of Formula 1 driver Mark Webber, swimmer Ian Thorpe and Hollywood stars Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
Cons: Most of Australia's biggest stadiums are used by other sports, like Aussie Rules and rugby league, whose seasons overlap with World Cup. Those sports are also more popular than football in Australia. Games would be at wrong time for lucrative European TV markets.
Say what? "The race to bring the World Cup to Australia is on. Like Formula 1 driving, you need belief, passion and Aussie grit to be successful" -Formula 1 driver Mark Webber
Bid leader Lowy: "I know we have the best bid. I know we have convinced many of the Fifa executive committee that we have the best bid. But will we have the critical 13 votes needed to win it? In my heart, I really believe so."

Main stadium: Rose Bowl, 91,000, (Pasadena)
Last World Cup hosted:
Bid leaders:
 US Soccer president Sunil Gulati
Bid motto:
 The Game Is In US
Famous face:
 Spike Lee
Spike Lee
Pros: Infrastructure in place from the 1994 World Cup. Soccer continues to grow in popularity in the country. The bid is supported by President Barack Obama and will offer Fifa big financial rewards. Has backing of Mexico and the Concacaf region.
Cons: Football is growing but still well down the pecking order of national sports.
Say what? "In my travels around the world - from the dirt fields of Lusaka, Zambia, to playgrounds in schools across America - I've seen the power soccer has to transform lives. I'm proud to represent the US in our bid to bring the World Cup back to American soil, allowing us to inspire action and cooperation on an even greater scale" -Honorary bid chairman Bill Clinton
Bid leader Gulati: "We've got all of the infrastructure in place - and it's extraordinary infrastructure. In elections, you never know where you are until the very last minute, until the vote is taken. There's not accurate polling, per se. So we'll continue to work until the last minute."

Main stadium: Seoul World Cup Stadium, 66,000, (Seoul)
Last World Cup hosted:
Bid leader:
 Former foreign minister Han Sung-Joo
Bid motto:
 Passion That Unites
Famous face:
 Park Ji-Sung
Park Ji-Sung
Pros: The country has world-class stadiums and transport links, is arguably the world's most hi-tech nation and has excellent rail and road networks. Also boasts the most successful national team in Asia, with seven consecutive World Cup appearances.
Cons: Co-hosted the tournament in 2002 and Fifa may be looking to new pastures in Asia. Uneasy relationship with neighbours North Korea, who South Korea say they might ask to stage a handful of games.
Say what? "Football can make things different and football can make change around the world. I hope football can do something for Korea" - South Korea's Park Ji-Sung
Bid leader Sung-Joo: "We have a very good case to make in terms of transportation, hardware, communication, opportunities. We are within around ten hours travelling of the US and Europe and 4 hours of one third of the world's population. People will come."

Main stadium: Lusail Stadium, 86,250, (Lusail City, Doha)
Last World Cup hosted:
Bid leader:
 Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, son of the Emir of Qatar
Bid motto:
 Expect Amazing
Famous face:
 Bid ambassador Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane
Pros: The potential to take the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time. Money is no object, with several state-of-the-art stadiums already in progress, while commercial gains could be huge. Former Premier League spokesman Mike Lee, who helped London and Rio win the Olympics, is working on the bid.
Cons: The ferocious heat, which could reach 50 degrees Celsius. The compact nature of the country, with 10 out of the 12 stadiums being located within a 25-30 km radius. Lack of atmosphere at England-Brazil friendly last November.
Say what: "Football is for everyone. When I think of all the youth of the Middle East, what they're missing is an event like the World Cup. We had the 2010 World Cup in Africa and now it is time for the Middle East" - France World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane
Bid leader Sheikh Mohammed: "What we can do in the Middle East is unmatched in any other region, by any other competitor. Football affects us more than anything. It can change our mindsets more than anything. We need this World Cup in the Middle East. People in the Middle East - their hopes and dreams are resting on the success of this bid."

PHL consular team assisting Japan road accident victims

A four-member Philippine consular team has been dispatched to assist the Filipino victims of last Sunday's road accident in Kameyama City in Mie Perfecture in Japan.

Led by Philippine Consul Ganeral Maria Lourdes Lopez, the team is in Kameyama City to check on the injured and coordinate with police and employers regarding assistance to the victims.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said 26 Filipino employees of Sharp Kameyama and their Japanese driver were on a minibus heading to their workplace when their vehicle collided with a truck at an intersection.

At least six Filipinos were killed while 20 were injured, 11 of them in critical condition, the DFA said Tuesday.

"Among the 11 critically injured, three of them have been released from the hospital's Intensive Care Unit," the DFA said.

The nine slightly injured Filipinos were discharged on November 28, it added.

The fatalities were identified as Mabini Bangi Paler III, 30; Analou Paler Dogami, 30; Randy Bayron Cornel, 30; Alma Dula Adarlo, 33; Remedios Bertoldo Cargullo, 24; and Ceferino Salengua Pedro Jr., 28.

The DFA said Sharp Kameyama and the Consulate General are working on the documentation requirements for the repatriation of the victims' remains to the Philippines, as well as extending assistance to those who are in the hospital.

Kameyama police arrested the truck driver, 45-year-old Takao Moriwaki. The driver was required to stop at the crossroad. - KBK, GMANews.TV

Monday, November 29, 2010

Scariest Computer Viruses

Jerusalem – 1987

Named after one of the first places it hit — Jerusalem University — this was one of the first MS-DOS viruses.  It infected thousands of computers while remaining undetected. On infection, theJerusalem virus resides in the computer’s memory and then infects every executed file over and over, until eventually the file sizes overwhelm computer resources. On Friday the 13th of every year after 1987 the virus deletes every program file that was executed. But, since the advent of Windows, Jerusalem’s DOS targeting has become obsolete.  While the virus was thought to have originated in Israel, antivirus researchers believe that Italy might be ground zero for this one.

Morris (aka Internet Worm) – November 1988

The Morris worm was not actually created to cause damage, but to gauge the size of the Internet. Unfortunately, the Morris worm contained an error that caused it to infect computers multiple times, creating a denial of service (DoS).  Developed by Cornell University student, Robert Morris, but released through MIT to disguise its origin, the author became the first to be convicted in the U.S. under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.  The Morris worm infected around 6,000 computers, slowing them to the point of becoming unusable. The estimated economic impact was between $100,000 to $10 million. Robert Morris was fined, put on probation and ordered to 400 hours of community service.  He is now a professor at MIT.

Solar Sunrise – 1998

Named because it exploited a vulnerability in the Solaris operating system, the virus affected dozens of Pentagon computer systems.  Launched at a time when tensions were high in the Persian Gulf, it was suspected that the virus was an Iraqi attack.  A joint task force was put together with agents from the FBI, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, NASA, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Defense Information Systems Agency, the NSA and the CIA. The investigation let to two American teenager computer hackers from California.

Melissa – 1999

Created by David L. Smith, a computer programmer from New Jersey, and named after a lap dancer he met in Florida, the virus was circulated in an e-mail message with the subject line “Important Message” and spread with an attached Microsoft Word document.

When the file was opened, Melissa sent the infected document to the first 50 addresses in the user's address book. It clogged government and private sector networks, forcing some companies to discontinue e-mail service until the virus was contained. Smith received a 20-month jail sentence and a fine.

ILOVEYOU (a.k.a. The Love Bug) – 2000

Like the Melissa virus, ILOVEYOU also spread through e-mail, but came in the form of a self-replicating worm from the Philippines.  The subject of the malicious e-mail message was ILOVEYOU with an attachment of a supposed love letter from a secret admirer.  It affected tens of millions of Windows computers almost overnight. Upon opening the attachment, the worm sent a copy of itself to everyone in the user’s address book with the user's sender address. It also made a number of malicious changes to the user's system. While two suspects in the Philippines were investigated and arrested, charges were dropped since no definitive link could be made between the creators and the virus and there were no laws in the Philippines at the time against computer crimes.

The Code Red worm –  June 2001

Attacking a vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Information Server, Code Redwent through a number of versions in several days, all of which conducted a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack that turns infected computers into “zombies” that overwhelm Web sites running on the Microsoft server. More than 350,000 computers were affected in the first 14 hours of the attack on July 19. Then at midnight, all Code Red zombies quit attacking new victims, and redirected themselves to one of the servers that hosts the White House Web site, bombarding it with a deluge of bad connections.  An earlier version of the worm defaces any Web site hosted by the server with the text: "Welcome to http://www.worm.com! Hacked by Chinese!" The actual source of the attack has not been identified.

The Klez Virus – 2001

The most persistent virus up to that time, Klez posed a triple threat acting as a virus, a worm and a Trojan horse. Klezarrives in a victim’s inbox as a file attachment. When the attachment is double-clicked, Klez appropriates the user’s e-mail address book and searches the user’s hard drive for addresses from the Web browser cache. Klez always appears to be sent from someone the user knows — an extremely effective social-engineering trick that has become a mainstay of virus distribution.

Nimda – September 2001

Admin, backwards — this worm was released shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks and infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide.Nimda was considered to be one of the most complicated viruses, having up to five different methods of infecting computers systems.  It affects both local files and those on shared networks.  The worm also creates open network shares on the infected computer, allowing access to the system. During this process, the worm creates the guest account with Administrator privileges and the infected computer is vulnerable to pillaging. Given the timing, there was speculation that the worm was linked to Al Qaeda, but the theory has since been rejected.

Slammer worm (aka Sapphire) – 2003

With devastating effects, the Slammer worm exploited a hole in Microsoft's SQL server. Once it attacked a server running Microsoft SQL, the infected system instantly started spewing millions of Slammer clones, targeting computers at random, duplicating itself and creating an army of Slammer slaves that doubled every 8.5 seconds. Within hours of the initial release, huge sections of the Internet were knocked offline. Slammer was also responsible for causing Emergency 911 operators in suburban Seattle to resort to using paper and Continental Airlines was forced to cancel flights from Newark because it was unable to process tickets.

MyDoom – February 2004

A worm affecting Microsoft Windows was one of the fastest spreading worms in history affecting a new computer every millisecond. It appears that it might have been commissioned by e-mail spammers to send junk e-mail through infected computers. The actual author of the worm remains unknown.

The worm was transmitted via e-mail with a subject line like “Mail Delivery System Error.”  The mail contains an attachment that resends the worm to e-mail addresses found in the user’s address book and also copies itself to the “shared folder” of peer-to-peer sharing applications (like Kazaa, at the time) in order to spread through file exchanges.  Versions of MyDoom have continued to resurface as recently as July 2009, targeting Web sites belonging to the White House, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, National Security Agency, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Defense and the State Department, as well as sites in South Korea including the Ministry of Defense.

Leap-A (aka. Oompa-Loompa) – 2006

While most of the viruses in this list have been targeted at PC systems, Apple has been significantly less vulnerable to attack — with its market share appreciably smaller, a hacker targeting a Mac won’t hit as many targets. But, the Leap did. Whether it is a virus, worm or Trojan horse is not exactly clear. It infects Mac computers running the iChat instant messaging program.  It searches through the user's iChat contact and sends corrupted files to each user through an attached JPEG image. It causes infected programs to stop running — which is actually helpful, because users couldn’t launch infected applications.

Storm Worm (aka. Peacomm a.k.a. Nuwar) – 2007

The Storm Worm is a Trojan horse program that affects computers using Microsoft operating systems. It began by infecting computers in Europe and the U.S. using an e-mail message with the subject line “230 dead as storm batters Europe.” There were six waves of attacks that followed, and the Storm Worm became a global epidemic within four days. Once the infected attachment is opened, the computer is compromised and becomes merged into a botnet — a network of zombie machines.  It isn’t that hard to detect or even avoid downloading, but it was one of the most widespread in years.

Macau casino mogul bids $330,000 for 2 truffles

MACAU – A Macau casino mogul bid $330,000 for a pair of white truffles, including one weighing about two pounds, matching the record price he paid at the same event three years ago for one of the giant fungi.

Billionaire Stanley Ho made the winning bid Saturday at a charity auction through representatives of his company, Sociedade de Jogos de Macau.

The pair included a huge truffle dug up in the central Tuscany region weighing about two pounds (900 grams) as well as one found in Molise weighing about 14 ounces (400 grams).

The auction was staged at Ho's Grand Lisboa hotel in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, with bidders participating simultaneously in Rome and London through a satellite link.

In 2007, Ho paid $330,000 for a white truffle unearthed in Tuscany weighing about 3.3 pounds (1.497 kilograms).

Ho is best known for his casinos in Macau, a gambling enclave in southern China near Hong Kong.

Sixteen lots of white truffles from different areas of Italy went on the block, raising a total of $373,500 for various charities in Macau, Britain and Italy.

White truffles are the most expensive and highly prized of Italy's truffles, and among the most famous are those from Alba in the northern Piedmont region, where pigs or dogs are used to sniff them out during the September-December hunting season.

During the truffle season in Italy, restaurants offer pasta and other dishes containing the edible fungus at sky-high prices.

Slivers of the delicacy, with its strong aroma, are prized for flavoring pasta sauces and rice dishes. — AP