The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 45.0°F | Overcast

News Briefs

Web Site’s Publication of Ford Secrets Halted THE WASHINGTON POST -- A federal court has issued a temporary restraining order against a World Wide Web site producer accused of publishing stolen trade secrets and other sensitive documents illegally obtained from Ford Motor Co.

The court order, issued Wednesday in Detroit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, temporarily stops Robert Lane, the owner of BlueOvalNews.com, from publishing confidential documents allegedly provided by some Ford employees.

Ford will ask the court next week for a permanent injunction against Lane and his site. That will mark the third time in a year that Ford has sought an injunction to stop Lane’s Internet invasion of its inner sanctum.

FordNetwork.com and FordUnleashed.com, both operated by Lane, were silenced by the car company earlier this year in federal court actions that found the sites in violation of U.S trademark and copyright laws.

Efforts to reach Lane by phone Thursday were unsuccessful. But his feelings about Ford’s latest legal maneuver were stated clearly on his site, BlueOvalNews.com.

“It’s not what happens to BlueOvalNews that is of real importance, it’s what happens to all of our First Amendment Rights!” he declared. “This is precisely why BlueOvalNews will fight this lawsuit,” said Lane, a lawyerless defendant who included an appeal “for any legal assistance in defense of these Constitutional rights.”

Flavored Bidis Popular With Young Smokers LOS ANGELES TIMES -- huntington beach, california

Ask 16-year-old Anna why she smokes bidi cigarettes and she’ll glance down at her clunky platform sandals, look up knowingly and smile: They’re the latest trend.

They give a real buzz, adds 15-year-old Erika, with her pierced navel and lace-trimmed tank top. Strawberry bidis are best, say the two friends, lounging at a Starbucks after a day at the Huntington Beach pier. Or maybe the vanilla ones.

“A cigarette calms you down,” Anna said. “Bidis have a nice rush to them. I think it’s the closest thing to illegal drugs you can buy legally.”

Actually, like all cigarettes, the imported bidis cannot be legally sold to those under 18. But that hardly seems to be impeding some teen-agers.

Bidis, which resemble marijuana joints and come in flavors such as mango, wild cherry and chocolate, have become so popular among urban youths that alarmed health experts are warning that they are more dangerous than regular cigarettes.

Anti-tobacco activists also fear that their candy-like appeal will lure youths into smoking, as did the now-outlawed Joe Camel.

Bidis are hand-rolled cigarettes filled with finely flaked tobacco bundled in a fuzzy leaf and bound with a colored thread.

Time Ball: Precision Planning for 2000 THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

It looks like a golden martini olive on a silver toothpick atop the U.S. Naval Observatory.

It’s a brand new “time ball,” and when it drops, it will mark the precise instant the year 2000 arrives in Washington.

The Naval Observatory is where the nation’s atomic chronometer quietly parses eternity down to the billionth of a second. It doesn’t look like a clock, actually, but rather an amazing stereo system, with rows of switches and dials and one red light, endlessly blinking the Official Second.

Washington will be a link in an earth-encircling chain of time-ball drops to mark the beginning of the new year as it sweeps westward from the international date line, with balls dropping at observatories on five continents. The Naval Observatory will distribute 2,000 free tickets to watch from the lawn near Vice President Gore’s helipad. The observatory, on Massachusetts Avenue NW, shares the compound with the vice presidential residence.

People near the observatory will be able to glimpse a spotlight shining on the gold-painted, four-foot aluminum ball, and accompanying fireworks.

At 11:50 p.m., the ball will be hoisted partially up the 35-foot aluminum pole. At 11:55, it will be raised to the top. At midnight, a federal time keeper will release the gear that holds the ball in place, and it will fall fast, driven by gravity.

“The first motion of the ball,” just as it begins to fall, will signal the new year, says Steven J. Dick, historian at the observatory.

Two Studies Focus On Ribosome Structure NEWSDAY -- New and more effective antibiotics could be the end result of two studies by scientists who have made progress in deciphering the structure of ribosomes -- complex particles that make the proteins needed for cell functions and structure.

Both studies in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature were based on data generated by a technique called X-ray crystallography, performed at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s National Synchroton Light Source.

Scientists hope better understanding of ribosomal structure will lead to the development of more advanced antibiotics to replace those that have lost their effectiveness. New industrial applications are possible as well.

As a result of their success in studying the protein builders, scientists hope someday to produce an antibiotic that would attack the ribosomes in bacterial cells that cause certain diseases.