New Worm Spreading Rapidly; Judge Strikes Down Part of USA Patriot Act; Inspector Recalls Would-Be Hijacker; Bird Flu Costs Could Be Billions

New Worm Spreading Rapidly

A new e-mail worm has surfaced on the Internet late yesterday and is spreading rapidly, according to a ComputerWorld story. The worm is being called several names by antivirus software vendors, including W32/Mydoom, Shimg, Novarg and Mimail.R. Experts don't all agree on the worm's payload, but they do agree that it is spreading faster than Sobig-F, the worm that topped the charts for the most widespread e-mail worm last year, ComputerWorld says. Meanwhile, according to The Register today, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, speaking at the Developing Software for the Future Microsoft Platform in London, said virus writers and hackers are helping Microsoft to develop more secure products. This was just hours before the MyDoom virus began spreading like wildfire across the Net, when Gates reiterated that security remains key priority for the software giant. Judge Strikes Down Part of USA Patriot ActReuters report today, a federal judge in Los Angeles has struck down as too vague part of the Patriot Act that bars providing "expert advice and assistance" to foreign terrorist groupsmarking the first time a court has declared part of the law unconstitutional. The written ruling by U.S. District Judge Audrey B. Collins, came in a 2003 challenge to the Patriot Act by five organizations and two individuals who sought to support Kurds in Turkey and Tamils in Sri Lanka.

According to a

Inspector Recalls Would-Be HijackerThe Boston Globe today tells the events recalled by Melendez-Perez, a Vietnam War veteran who has been a federal immigration inspector for 12 years. Because Kahtani was alone, said he spoke no English but intended to vacation for six days in the United States, had no hotel reservation and no return airline ticket, Melendez-Perez's gut told him to block Kahtani's entry. Although Kahtani's papers were in order, he could be blocked on grounds of his refusal to make a sworn statement, although the immigration inspector had to call his supervisor at home for approval. The 9/11 Commission now suspects that Kahtani was intended to be a hijacker aboard United Airlines Flight 93 which was crashed on an empty Pennsylvania field. The US military captured Kahtani fighting with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and took him to Guantanamo Bay.

Something gave immigration inspector Jose Melendez-Perez "the creeps" when he started to interview Mohamed al Kahtani, a Saudi who had flown from Dubai to Orlando, Fla., via London, on Aug. 4, 2001, the agent testified yesterday before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (or the 9/11 Commission). A story in

Bird Flu Costs Could Be BillionsBBC News Online story today, human-to-human infection could threaten as big a travel and trade standstill as that which accompanied the SARS respiratory virus in 2003. SARS, which killed some 800 people and infected about 8,000 others, brought much of Asia to a near-standstill in the early months of last year. Another BBC story on bird flu quotes Jacques Diouf, head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, saying, "We have a brief window of opportunity before us to eliminate that threat." International health and food safety organizations are urging financial assitance to the developing countries where the outbreak has started, in part to help compensate farmers for destroying infected flocks. In its coverage of bird flu, The Washington Post says the virus has already mutated so much that an existing flu vaccine, developed from a Hong Kong outbreak in 1997, is no longer effective. The Post story also reviews the history of the outbreak and raises questions about cover-ups by poultry industry leaders in reporting its beginnings.

Asia's economies risk a multi-billion dollar meltdown if bird flu starts spreading through direct human transmission, experts warn. According to a

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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