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.
The Wikipedia Scanner, which trawls the backwaters of the popular online encyclopaedia, has unearthed a catalogue of organisations massaging entries, including the CIA and the Labour party. Workers operating on CIA computers have been spotted editing entries including the biography of former presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, while unnamed individuals inside the Vatican have worked on entries about Catholic saints - and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.
Africa has harbored a number of high-profile Western medical miscreants who have intentionally administered deadly agents under the guise of providing health care or conducting research. In March 2000, Werner Bezwoda, a cancer researcher at South Africa's Witwatersrand University, was fired after conducting medical experiments involving very high doses of chemotherapy on black breast-cancer patients, possibly without their knowledge or consent. In Zimbabwe, in 1995, Richard McGown, a Scottish anesthesiologist, was accused of five murders and convicted in the deaths of two infant patients whom he injected with lethal doses of morphine. And Dr. Michael Swango, ultimately convicted of murder after pleading guilty to killing three American patients with lethal injections of potassium, is suspected of causing the deaths of 60 other people, many of them in Zimbabwe and Zambia during the 1980s and '90s. (Dr. Swango was never tried on the African charges.)
Now he has been unmasked as Ryan Jordan, a 24-year-old who had created an entirely false identity, claiming to be a tenured professor at a private university, but who relied on books such as Catholicism for Dummies when correcting articles on dogma.
He specifically rejects licensing FairPlay because he says its secrets will leak out if it's spread around, and it will be hard to patch when many companies use it. But he may be exaggerating. Microsoft's proprietary but openly licensed DRM has been cracked less often than FairPlay, even though it's licensed to dozens of companies. Is Jobs saying Microsoft can do this but Apple can't?