Friday, August 29, 2003

Was reading the Onion today along with these other sites that others very seldom dare approach to visit due to keeping or not wanting to change their profiles...Pacific Command...Councila on Foreign Affairs...Green Peace...Move On...Federation of American Scientist...Republican GOP...The Acronym...Crisis Web ... Enjoy your weekend and have fun reading!

Classified Spending On the Rise; Report: Defense to Get $23.2 Billion
"Black," or classified, programs requested in President Bush's 2004 defense budget are at the highest level since 1988, according to a report prepared by the independent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

The center concluded that classified spending next fiscal year will reach about $ 23.2 billion of the Pentagon's total request for procurement and research funding. When adjusted for inflation, that is the largest dollar figure since the peak reached during President Ronald Reagan's defense buildup 16 years ago. The amount in 1988 was $ 19.7 billion, or $ 26.7 billion if adjusted for inflation, according to the center.

"It's puzzling. It sets the mind to wondering where the money's going and what sort of politically controversial things the administration is doing because they're not telling anybody," said John E. Pike, director of, a research group in Alexandria that has been critical of the administration's defense priorities.

Pike said part of the surge in the classified budget probably can be explained by increases for the Central Intelligence Agency's covert action programs, which are central to the war on terrorism. Traditionally, Pike said, much of the funding for the CIA is hidden in Air Force weapons procurement accounts.

But unlike the 1980s, when it was widely known that the "black" budget was going to the development of stealth aircraft such as the B-2 bomber and F-117 fighter, the uses of the classified accounts today are far murkier, Pike said.

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments is a Washington research group that analyzes many aspects of the defense budget. Steven Kosiak, who prepared the report on classified spending, said he reached his conclusions by comparing sums requested for "open," or nonclassified, programs with the total Defense Department request for fiscal 2004.

Some black spending in the Pentagon budget is designated for code-named programs such as the Army's "Tractor Rose" and the Navy's "Retract Larch." But sources said some names may be accounting fictions that do not stand for actual programs.

Other classified spending is accounted for under such bland headings as "special activities."

Officials at the Pentagon and in Congress declined to comment on the center's report, which was compiled earlier this summer. Key congressional defense committees will meet in the next several weeks to resolve differences over the 2004 Pentagon spending plan, including those involving classified programs.

According to the Kosiak analysis, the Air Force's classified weapons procurement budget has jumped from $ 7 billion in 2001 to almost $ 11 billion as requested for 2004. In dollar terms, total classified spending in the Pentagon budget request has almost doubled since the mid-1990s, according to tables provided by Kosiak.

Kosiak said in his report that performance in the classified programs has been mixed. He noted that highly successful weapons systems such as the F-117 and the B-2 were initially developed within the classified budget. But so was the Navy's A-12 medium attack plane, which was canceled in 1991 after a series of technical problems and cost increases.

After it was canceled, manufacturers complained that secrecy in the program kept them from acquiring critical data needed to head off some of the problems.

"Restrictions placed on access to classified funding have meant that the Defense Department and Congress typically exercise less oversight over classified programs than unclassified ones," Kosiak wrote.

In the case of the new defense budget, it is anybody's guess where most of the classified money is going, Pike said. But he said it is a good bet that some of it is going to programs that the administration is known to strongly favor, such as missile defense and the development of hypersonic planes that can fly beyond Earth's atmosphere.

"This is an administration that likes to play I've got a secret," he said. "The growth of the classified budget appears to be part of a larger pattern of this administration being secretive."

Selling bombs along with soap?
Defense contractors usually stay out of the mass market because they have only one customer to persuade -- the Pentagon.

Lately, however, some companies have been using classic, consumer-behavior-altering advertising campaigns -- both in the broadcast and print media and on the Internet -- to persuade opinion influencers, who are the key constituents of decision-makers affecting major military procurements.

Media psychologists -- who track the impact of media perceptions on human consciousness -- say these defense firms are taking a page from the playbook of major prescription drug manufacturers. Just as makers of prescription medications have done in recent years, weapons makers have begun targeting individuals who can influence the federal government's buying decisions, hoping to generate subtle pressure to purchase their products.

"This a new trend," Stuart Fischoff, a professor of psychology at the Fielding Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif., and founding president of the American Psychological Association's media psychology division, told United Press International. "This is like what the pharmaceutical companies have done -- going directly to consumers, rather than doctors. That worked very well for the drug companies, some of whom increased their sales by 40 percent for advertised prescription drugs."

Personnel in the policymaking world and in the contracting community, upon hearing or seeing ads from defense contractors, talk about them -- and the novelty of the firm being on the airwaves. This creates chatter, or buzz, in the offices at the Department of Defense, which others pick up on. "This is called an elaboration of the ad, which is what the marketer wants," Fischoff said.

Senior Pentagon personnel, involved in final decisions on contracts, may have heard the ads, too, and been directly influenced by them. If not, the office chatter raises the profile of the company being marketed.

"By widening the target of the ad, the government contractor gets out its message to people who may be important in the process down the road," Paul Levinson, chairman of the department of communication and media studies at Fordham University in New York City, told UPI.

There is an array of ads touting Pentagon contractors in the media today. Some examples:

--Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense contractor, took to the airwaves recently with a radio campaign in the Washington D.C. metro market to promote its small-diameter bomb.

--Pratt & Whitney, the aircraft engine manufacturer associates itself in magazine ads with the USO and its mission of helping America's armed forces.

--SAS, a consulting firm, is advertising its public sector services via the online edition of The Washington Post, providing hot links to case studies detailing the savings its software provided for the U.S. Marine Corps.

In the past, savvy advertisers would have dismissed such spending as frivolous. The majority of the audience reached through the ads, they would have argued, would not include decision-makers for military goods and services. Therefore the ads would be, in industry parlance, a lot of wasted space.

Now, sophisticated marketers are reaching beyond the conventional wisdom.

"One message advertised can be worth 1,000 research reports, since people have a tendency to believe what they see, especially if they see it often enough and the message content is presented in an authoritative fashion," Robert Butterworth, a media psychologist in private practice in Los Angeles, told UPI. "You create the reality by the perception of the advertisement."

Rather than rely on its contacts throughout the Pentagon bureaucracy to land the hotly contested, small-diameter bomb contract, Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Md., has taken the unconventional step of purchasing local radio ads, said Donald McClain, a spokesman for the defense contractor. The reason is simple: "We're in the middle of a competition for the contract," McClain told UPI.

The 15-second and 60-second ads, produced by the Keiler & Co. advertising agency in Farmington, Conn., tout Lockheed Martin's small-diameter bomb solution for the Air Force, said McClain, and its all-weather ability to strike moving targets with twice the accuracy of traditional global positioning system devices.

The bomb is 6 inches in diameter, 6 feet long, and weighs 250 pounds, containing 50 pounds of explosives and a steel case for penetration. The bomb uses differential GPS and is accurate within a 3-meter circular area. The bomb is half the weight of the Mark 82, the smallest bomb the Air Force uses today.

Lockheed Martin's key competitor is Boeing Co., said John Pike, a military analyst at, a think tank in Washington.

"Lockheed is advertising the fact that they build smart bombs as a way of off-setting all the good, earned media coverage that Boeing got with JDAM -- or Joint Direct Attack Munitions -- stories during the last several wars," Pike told UPI.

Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin have worked on the design of laser-guided "smart bombs" for the Pentagon during the last few years and the Bush administration has requested more than $54 million in the fiscal year 2004 budget for the further development of the bomb, according to research by

The radio advertising by Lockheed communicates "very specific messages to anyone who is a stakeholder of any sort with the company," Pike explained. "A big contract is soon to be awarded and the company is trying to influence the decision process."

The subtle influencing of decision-making works through a psychological technique known as "the availability heuristic," said Fischoff. A heuristic is a carefully constructed mnemonic designed to assist the memory.

"They're making their name available in the mind of people, so that when the time to solve a problem arises -- the time to buy arrives -- their name jumps into everyone's mind," he said. "This gives them a higher probability of being considered than if there was no advertising at all."

Though defense contractors advertised heavily in trade publications in the past, this kind of marketing might not be as effective as it once was.

Fischoff said the mass media ads were more effective because they acted as a "time-release capsule" that worked on the unconscious minds of the prospective buyers and their colleagues and subordinates -- and even outsiders, such as the media and academics, at a time in the future.

Psychological research attests to the value of such messages, and their impact on such opinion leaders.

"Ultimately, a great deal of research suggests that people are more influenced by interpersonal, rather than mediated, communication," May Beth Oliver, an associate professor of communications at the Penn State University in University Park, told UPI. "As a consequence, if some individual who is in contact with a decision-maker is persuaded by a media campaign, the interpersonal communication between the two would likely be more influential than if the decision-maker simply saw the information in a trade publication."

Using the prescription drug companies' experience marketing prescription drugs on TV as a metaphor, Butterworth added: "If enough people talk about something working, such as the medication advertised, people will demand that medication of their physician, regardless of the reality of their specific needs."

Maj. Greg Gutterman, the Pentagon's spokesman for the small-diameter bomb contract office, did not return UPI's phone calls seeking comment on the Lockheed Martin advertising campaign.

There is no doubt, however, Lockheed Martin is eager that the bomb messages hit their targets soon.

"We're right in the middle of that contract competition," said McClain. "They haven't given us an exact date when the award will be announced, but it is coming up soon."

'SoBig' e-mail virus foiled
Worm was poised to spread new orders to 100,000 computers

A powerful e-mail virus known as SoBig was thwarted Friday as it attempted to change itself, possibly into a more destructive force.

A coordinated defense by commercial and government computer experts illustrates the growing arms race between Internet miscreants, and public and private authorities.

For days, commercial antivirus wizards and Department of Homeland Security investigators had been working to stop the self-replicating virus, or worm, from infecting computers. But just as the epidemic seemed to be coming under control Wednesday and Thursday, researchers at various antivirus firms discovered a surprise when they cracked the worm's code and took a look inside.

The worm was set to rendezvous at noon Friday with 20 preselected computers in the United States, in Canada and possibly in South Korea. These computers, which researchers believe are ordinary home systems using DSL or cable Internet hookups, were probably hacked by SoBig's author some time ago.

At noon, all computers worldwide that were infected with SoBig -- more than 100,000, according to Santa Clara antivirus firm Network Associates -- were to make contact with these 20 computers, where experts believe the worm was evidently destined to download more instructions. What those instructions would be, no one knew.

According to Jimmy Kuo, a research fellow at Network Associates McAfee antivirus lab, the speculation was that the worm would pick up software, known as a backdoor program, that would allow its creator to circumvent the security systems on the 100,000 computers.

"The result of that would be to make those machines accessible from the outside," Kuo said. That way, SoBig's author could spy on computer users and perhaps steal information or take control of their computers.

A previous version of SoBig was designed to pick up a backdoor program in this way, from just one computer. It didn't take long for the antivirus experts to shut down that one download site.

Conceivably, the 100,000 infected computers could have downloaded a program that would order them to attack certain Web sites by accessing them over and over, the same kind of attack that brought down Yahoo, EBay and other popular sites in 2000. With so many computers in on an attack, the failures this time around could have been much more widespread.

Whatever the virus writers' intentions, they never came to pass. The antivirus forces were able to stop the worm's progress.

"One of the first things we did was contact the Internet service providers (supplying access to the 20 target computers) and the FBI so they could work in conjunction with one another to get these servers off the Internet," said Tony Magallanez, a systems engineer at the San Jose office of antivirus firm F-Secure, which is based in Helsinki, Finland.

Other security companies, including Cupertino's Symantec, went through the same process of contacting the Internet service providers and law enforcement. Each company has a team of researchers analyzing new worms, and most of these teams seem to have discovered SoBig's secret sometime late Thursday.

By noon Friday, 18 or 19 of the computers had been taken off the Internet by the Internet service providers, according to reports from various antivirus companies. The remaining ones were providing no instructions anyway. Earlier Friday, one computer had been sending out the address of a pornographic Web site, which Symantec researchers said included no instructions that SoBig could use. But by noon, even that computer had fallen silent.

Meanwhile, the FBI reportedly made significant progress in trying to find the author of the SoBig virus, tracing it through an Internet service provider in Phoenix, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"It looks like the original variant was posted through us" on Monday afternoon, Michael Minor, the chief technology officer of Easynews Inc., told the Los Angeles Times.

Some experts had feared that even though the target computers had been taken down, the traffic created by so many infected computers worldwide trying to contact the 20 targets would clog the Internet. Past viruses, like the Slammer worm that hit in January, had indeed caused Web site disruptions by generating large volumes of Internet traffic.

But people trying to use the Internet on Friday experienced few to no delays, according to San Mateo Net measurement firm Keynote Systems.

The FBI opened an investigation to track down SoBig's author or authors on Wednesday, according to Network Associates' Kuo. The FBI did not immediately return calls.

Friday, the FBI issued a grand jury subpoena to an Internet service provider that may have inadvertently helped SoBig get its start, according to the Washington Post. Minor, of, told the Post that someone may have used a stolen credit card number to open an account on his service, then quickly released the worm into the wild.

Whoever created this virus is not a first-time offender; the current version of SoBig is the sixth iteration to be released this year, and experts believe they were all written by the same hand.

Originally, SoBig appeared to be nothing more than an unusually effective version of a common online bug: the mass mailer, which annoys people by flooding e-mail boxes worldwide with copies of itself, but which does no real damage to hardware. Now that the SoBig worm turns out to be more complex, some experts believe its creator is much more sophisticated than the youths who release garden-variety worms on a daily basis.

"Looks like organized crime to me," said Mikko Hypponen, F-Secure's director of antivirus research, in a prepared release.

Not everyone agrees.
"If he's caught, everyone will probably be startled at how sweaty and dull he turns out to be," said George Smith, a senior fellow with Alexandria, Va., think tank "The virus writer miscalculated badly. . . . Since the presence of SoBig was so heavy, it guaranteed whatever plans he had would be short-circuited by the attention it garnered."

SoBig is programmed to keep trying to contact its 20 target computers every Friday and Sunday for a few weeks. But now that they've been shut down, no one expects the target computers to become available again, at least not with the same addresses.

The development came at the end of a two-week virus wave that disrupted businesses, including Air Canada, whose check-in system stalled because of a worm known as Blaster. Friday, the New York Times suffered a computer failure consistent with a virus attack, although the company would not confirm whether a virus was the cause.

Just after noon Eastern time, employees at the New York Times in Manhattan noticed a slowdown in accessing Internet sites. Soon, they were told to shut down their computers, and they had to get out notebooks and report the old-fashioned way while technical staff brought the computers back online, one at a time.

By late afternoon, most workers were back online, and the paper's production was not affected, said spokesman Toby Usnik. The overall system was never down, and neither was the newspaper's Web site.

Experts say that in order to avoid falling victim to an Internet virus, computer users should keep their operating system updated by downloading any patches as they become available. Many people also use commercial antivirus software to screen out threats, and this too must be updated on a regular basis. Users can also protect themselves by not opening any unexpected e-mail attachments.


SoBig worm
A new computer worm, SoBig, is already being blamed for slowing or shutting down e-mail systems worldwide. The worm began infecting Windows machines Tuesday. Here are tips to remove the worm:

What is it?
SoBig is a computer worm, like the "Blaster" worm that affected computers last week. Worms are malicious programs that spread themselves from computer to computer, usually via e-mail.

How does it work?
SoBig spreads through e-mail networks by sending massive amounts of mail with these characteristics:
-- The "From" field is filled with an address found on the infected computer. If no addresses are found, it will use ""
-- The "To" field is filled with an address from the infected system.
-- The "Subject" field can be any from this list:
Re: Thank You! Thank You! Your details Re: Details Re: Re: My details Re: Approved Re: Your application Re: Wicked screensaver Re: That movie
-- In the "body" field it chooses from the follow lines:
See the attached file for details
Please see the attached file for details.
-- Attachment names can be any from this list:

your_document.pif document_all.pif thank_you.pif your_details.pif details.pif document_9446.pif application.pif wicked_scr.scr movie0045.pif

Deactivation routine The worm will stop spreading on Sept. 10, 2003. From this date onwards the worm will exit immediately when executed. 343 Removal instructions can be found at

Source: Symantec,


Xspedius Communications ("Xspedius") has been a pioneer in the telecommunications industry, both locally and nationwide. Like most big families, our history can get a little confusing, but it's definitely worth reading about.
We are one of the few companies that can integrate landline telephone and Internet services for the business community. We've grown in size and innovation over the past several decades, from launching the nation's first dial-up mobile phone service in 1958 and the introduction of an Integrated Service Platform in 1998 to a strategic acquisition in 2002 which significantly expanded the reach of our services.

It all started when Cameron Telephone Company was established in 1928. Southwest Louisiana needed telephone service and South Central Bell refused to travel in the marshy terrain of Cameron Parish. The original founders of the company recognized the need of the local people and ran the first lines from Sulphur to Hackberry. Their philosophy has continued to influence how we do business today - "Always do the most you can for your customers."

The growth of Cameron Telephone spawned several other affiliate companies, including US Unwired, formerly Mercury Cellular & Paging. US Unwired followed in Cameron Telephone's footsteps and grew at a phenomenal speed, with several divisions and affiliations within itself. One of US Unwired's pioneer divisions was CLEC/Internet. The success of CLEC/Internet inspired the independent launch of Xspedius.

On August 30, 2002, Xspedius made a strategic acquisition purchasing substantially all of the assets of Virginia-based e.spire Communications and its subsidiary, ACSI Network Technologies ("ACSI"). e.spire, originally established in 1993, was also an integrated communications provider offering customers local and long distance services, dedicated Internet access, and advanced data solutions. ACSI, now known as Xspedius Fiber Group, provides network infrastructure, in the form of dark fiber and conduit, and network design and construction services to organizations deploying metropolitan network systems in the United States.

Adding e.spire to the fold, we now have an operating footprint in 52 markets spanning 24 states, plus the District of Columbia, as well as more than 3,500 route miles of fiber. And, to top it off, we gained fiber and conduit inventory in Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Fort Lauderdale/Miami/West Palm Beach, Tampa, and Washington, DC/Northern Virginia thanks to our new subsidiary, Xspedius Fiber Group.

The history of Xspedius comes down to one thing -- growth. Through this growth, we have added more and more services and strategic assets to our portfolio and have become your best resource for Integrated Communication Services. We are committed to providing the benefits of doing business with a great local company offering leading-edge communications technology.

Now Remember It's Friday & Take Business B4 Lunch... Enjoy The Weekend!

A subdued preholiday session on Wall Street yesterday finished with moderate gains after a last-hour surge of buying. Two leading market gauges, the Nasdaq composite index and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, closed above numerical benchmarks.

Despite two upbeat economic reports, prices fluctuated in a narrow range for most of the session. Analysts attributed the market's tentativeness to concerns that an improving business climate had already been factored into higher stock prices.

"The market is the greatest forecasting tool out there," said Gary Kaltbaum, market technician for Investors' Edge Partners, a money management firm in Orlando, Fla. "Stocks have been forecasting these results."

Volume, though again low, was modestly higher. A total of 1.17 billion shares were traded on the New York Stock Exchange, compared with 1.07 billion on Wednesday.

Many traders and investors were on vacation. "This week usually is just dismally slow," said Thomas F. Lydon Jr., president of Global Trends Investments in Newport Beach, Calif., referring to the period leading up to Labor Day. "Trying to make something exciting about this week is tough."

Nonetheless, the Nasdaq index closed up 18.05 points, or just over 1 percent, at 1,800.18, a 16-month high. And the S.& P. 500 again breached the 1,000 level, rising 6.05 points, or 0.61 percent, to 1,002.84.

The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average advanced 40.42 points, or 0.43 percent, to 9,374.21.

Market breadth was positive, with advancing issues outnumbering decliners on the New York Stock Exchange by more than 2 to 1.

It was the fourth consecutive day of gains for the S.& P. and the third for the Nasdaq index, something that analysts found encouraging. When traders return from vacation, analysts said, the market could have greater momentum.

As investors "come back from a long weekend and get re-engaged with their portfolios," Mr. Lydon said, "they will realize the Nasdaq is at 16-month highs."

With the Nasdaq index moving higher, the Dow has lagged by comparison as traders moved assets into riskier, growth-oriented sectors.

Among yesterday's economic data, the Commerce Department issued revised figures indicating that the economy grew at a 3.1 percent annual pace in the second quarter, stronger than the 2.4 percent it estimated a month ago. It was the economy's best performance since the third quarter of 2002.

In a separate report, the Labor Department said new claims for jobless benefits rose by a seasonally adjusted 3,000 last week, to 394,000. But the fact that claims remained below 400,000, a level associated with a weak job market, offered hope that the pace of layoffs was stabilizing.

Better-than-expected earnings and the upgrading of individual stocks by brokerage firms also contributed to yesterday's market gains.

Dollar General rose $1.60, to $22.52, after reporting second-quarter earnings that surpassed analysts' expectations by 4 cents a share.

Kirkland's, a home decor retailer, climbed $1.40, to $18.55, after US Bancorp Piper Jaffray raised its rating on the stock to strong buy from outperform.

Among technology issues, the disk drive maker Western Digital advanced $1.98, to $11.48, on heavy volume. Broadcom rose $1.50, to $27.45. Intel, a recent gainer, added 28 cents more, closing at $28.30.

Treasuries Strongly HigherBy Bloomberg News

United States Treasury issues had their biggest gain in three weeks after the Labor Department's report on unemployment claims and another report indicating that inflation remained muted.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note gained 2932, to a price of 982132. The note's yield, which moves in the opposite direction from the price, declined to 4.41 percent from 4.53 percent on Wednesday. The price of the 30-year Treasury bond jumped 11832, to 1021632. The bond's yield dipped to 5.20 percent from 5.31 percent on Wednesday.

Results of Wednesday's Treasury auction of two-year notes:

(000 omitted in dollar figures)

High Price | 99.922

High Yield | 2.04%

Low Yield | 1.95%

Median Yield | 1.998%

Accepted at low price | 0.9%

Total applied for | $48,731,474

Accepted | $30,589,929

Noncompetitive | $836,794

Interest set at | 2

The two-year notes mature on Aug. 31, 2005.

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