Yahoo’s collaboration is appalling, and Yahoo is not the only American company helping the Chinese government repress its people. Microsoft shut down a blogger at Beijing’s request. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft censor searches in China. Cisco Systems provided hardware used by Beijing to censor and monitor the Internet. These companies argue that it is better for the Chinese people to have a censored Internet than no Internet. They say that they must abide by the laws of the countries they operate in. But the Chinese Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, the press, association and assembly. Those guarantees may be purely symbolic, but these companies — which loudly protest Chinese piracy of their intellectual property — have not tried to resist. What they are resisting are efforts in Congress that could help them stand against repressive governments.

Several of the 77 companies presenting this time have been tackling the problem of taking video quality to the next level. It's quite possible to send high-definition video over the Internet, but the cost of doing it at scale is daunting, because it requires about 40 times the bandwidth of a YouTube-quality video. Asankya's solution deals with a fundamental problem of the Internet, which wasn't designed for transfers of HD-size files. Under regular Internet protocols, all the little parts that make up a file take the same route over the network, even if that path becomes congested during the transfer. Asankya's Hypermesh service, which it is previewing at the show, can send individual parts of a large file over different routes, then reassemble them in the right order.

A Spanish court had asked the European court to give guidance on the case after Promusicae complained of Telefonica's refusal to hand over details identifying the people who used the computer addresses linked to the illegal downloads. Telefonica claimed Spanish law only allows it to share personal data for criminal prosecutions or matters of public security and national defense. The EU ruling is important because courts across Europe have been moving in different directions.

IBM constantly updated its machinery and applications for the Nazis. For example, one series of punch cards was designed to record religion, national origin, and mother tongue, but by creating special columns and rows for Jew, Polish language, Polish nationality, the fur trade as an occupation, and then Berlin, Nazis could quickly cross-tabulate, at the rate of 25,000 cards per hour, exactly how many Berlin furriers were Jews of Polish extraction. Railroad cars, which could take two weeks to locate and route, could be swiftly dispatched in just 48 hours by means of a vast network of punch-card machines. Indeed, IBM services coursed through the entire German infrastructure in Europe.

Considering Skype's rapid growth since the acquisition, it can't be an encouraging sign that its founders and early investors are cashing out well before the clock has run out on the original performance goals. When eBay bought Skype, it agreed to pay Skype shareholders as much as $1.7 billion extra if Skype met certain user growth and financial targets in 2008 and 2009. In accepting $530 million, those investors agreed to forgo any future payments, suggesting that none were likely. eBay plans to record that payment, plus $900 million more, as an impairment charge recorded in the third quarter.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, the continent's most developed nation, has called for the fast-tracking of biofuel research and production. South Africa began last July to construct Africa's first production plant for ethanol, which is made from the sugars found in grains. The first barrels of the biofuel should start flowing by the end of this year, and seven similar factories are expected to be up and running by 2010. Nigeria, Africa's oil producing giant, cannot afford to be left behind. It hopes to rake in 150 million dollars annually from biofuels once it reaches full production. Nigeria plans to build 15 ethanol plants with technical assistance from Brazil. It envisions ethanol powered cars in Africa's most populous country by 2010.
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