Thursday, May 29, 2008

Comcast follow-up

Just read a comment on my last blog saying there WAS a message on the 800 number. Ahhh... I called the local number that's listed on my bill. No message. So, I'm guessing my soft-criticism should be directed at the local office, not the national!

By the way, I'm up and running but I still can't send an email to the account for some reason. Maybe it's 'cause it's been sitting there in my outbox trying to go for so longs it's corrupted itself... I'll delete and try a new one.

I'm going to change my password and suggest that all others do the same.

Comcast hacked...

Hacked: ticked off, irritated, mad... If you're a Comcast email user you've been hacked and if you're normal, you're hacked about it. It's almost impossible to avoid being hacked if you're a large company these days. You're a big target waiting for some group or individual to figure out how to get past your safeguards.

Comcast got hit last night and they're still trying to recover. Luckily, I have email accounts set up on various websites and hotmail, but my Comcast email accounts are still down.

I tried calling Comcast when I noted a problem and saw on some blogs that it had been fixed. Mine wasn't so thought maybe I needed to do something on my end, so called. Most companies will have a canned message when you hit "tech support" indicating a company-wide problem. Not Comcast. I ended up on hold forever, finally gave up the ghost and figured they'd get it fixed sooner or later.

Why not have a message when you hit the "email problem" button? Why not have a message on Comcast.COM? Comcast.NET is still down as I type.

Why not send out a short release to the press saying there's an unknown problem and it's being fixed?

I read that it's a group calling themselves "Kryogenic Warlocks" on someone else's blog.

Just took a break and went to check and see what's being said now... there are some hacked people out there! Looks like some are actually doing better than I when it comes to talking to a live person at Comast. No estimates on time frame (how could they have an idea when they're still going through code and loopholes trying to close the doors to the hackers and find where they've possibly left malicious code?). Understand tech support has been rather rude to some people so maybe it's a good thing I didn't get through.

I have an email from one of my accounts on this computer going to my Comcast account on the other computer. It's sitting in my inbox, not going anywhere until the system is fixed. When I see it's gone I'll know they've fixed the problem (at least temporarily).

Guess I'll have to change my email passwords just to be on the safe side as they've probably been compromised...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Headless fire ants can't bite

If you’ve ever been stung by a fire ant, you probably wished they’d all get sick and their heads would fall off. Agricultural scientists are working to do just that.

Scientists at the University of Georgia, the USDA-ARS in Gainesville, Fla., and other universities in the Southeast are releasing parasitic flies with the hopes of reducing the fire ant population in the South.

Didn't bring their enemies

“Fire ants came from Brazil and Argentina,” said Wayne Gardner, an entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Unfortunately for us, they didn’t bring their 30 to 50 natural enemies with them.”

When a new species becomes an invasive pest, like the fire ant, controlling it is like “constantly playing catch up,” he said.

USDA scientists are coordinating the release of phorid flies to sites in southeastern states, including Georgia. The flies, which are smaller than gnats, come from areas in South America where fire ants are native.

“They rear the flies in their laboratory and provide them to cooperators in the individual states,” Gardner said. “The flies are then strategically introduced to sites in each state.”
Off with their heads

The female fly stings the ant and lays an egg inside her body. “It’s a painful sting,” Gardner said. “You can tell by the way the ant goes into contortions.”

The egg hatches in the ant, and the larva grows and develops inside the body. “When the larva hatches, it eats the ant from the inside out and the ant’s head falls off,” said Gardner. “It’s basically a decapitating fly, which is amazing.”

Gardner and his UGA colleagues have used natural enemies to fight insect pests for 15 years. “It’s not as easy as just finding a natural enemy of the ant and bringing it here,” he said. “It takes time and resources to go into their native range, collect and study them and get a point where we know it’s safe to introduce them here.”

The scientists are testing the effectiveness of nine species of parasitic flies. Each species attacks different size ants and at different times of day.

Cuts their appetites

“The flies definitely kill fire ants, but they actually cause more harm to fire ant populations by looking for ants to sting,” Gardner said. “The ants sense the wing beat of the adult flies, know that their enemies are in the area and quit foraging.”

When the ants stop foraging, the colony weakens.

Gardner’s team has introduced two species in at least 6 sites in central and south Georgia. They are also seeing flies spread into northern, western and southern counties from releases made in the bordering states of Tennessee, Alabama and Florida.

The researchers don’t expect the flies to solve the fire ant problem in the South. “Will we see areas that are totally devoid of fire ants?” Gardner said. “No, but we may see one mound instead of 10 in a row.”

by Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia

Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Chambliss, Isakson Urge Democratic Leader to Strip Agricultural Worker Provisions from Emergency War Supplemental Bill

U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today, along with eight other Republican senators, sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urging the removal of language that would grant legal status to over 1 million illegal agriculture workers and their families in the emergency war supplemental spending bill.

“A bill to provide funding for our servicemen and women should not be bogged down by a debate over immigration policy,” said Chambliss. “I strongly disagree that this amendment would serve to provide stability in the agricultural industry and would in fact harm U.S. farmers and ranchers and U.S. workers. Nobody is more interested in the well-being of American agriculture than me, and this proposal is simply the wrong policy at the wrong time.”

“There’s no greater domestic issue in this country than illegal immigration, and the American people will not stand for this attempt to grant amnesty on a bill designed to give our soldiers the resources they need in the War on Terror,” Isakson said. “The war supplemental is not only the wrong vehicle to deal with this issue but I firmly believe this is absolutely the wrong approach in regards to agricultural workers.”

On May 15, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment to the emergency war supplemental spending bill that would give a five-year visa to 1.35 million workers plus their spouses and dependent children to live and work in the United States. For almost all legal purposes, the amendment requires that the illegal aliens who qualify for the proposed visa be treated as lawful permanent residents. Illegal aliens would qualify for the proposed five-year visa by proving they have performed agricultural employment for 863 hours or 150 work days or earned $7,000 from agricultural employment over the course of a four-year period. Once granted the proposed five-year visa, the illegal aliens would be authorized to work in any job other than agriculture-related jobs for the rest of the year and would be treated as U.S. workers for hiring purposes.

Adding the amendment to the appropriations bill also violates Senate rules because it legislates on an appropriations bill. As such, it will be subject to a point of order on the floor and 60 votes will be needed to keep this language in the bill. Chambliss and Isakson strongly oppose the amendment and will vote against it.

The text of the letter to Senator Reid is below. The letter was also signed by Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, David Vitter, R-Louisiana, Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, Elizabeth Dole, R-North Carolina, and Jim Bunning, R-Kentucky.

May 20, 2008

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington D.C. 20510

Dear Majority Leader Reid:

We write to express disappointment that the Senate Appropriations Committee chose to include in the War Supplemental more than 100 pages of immigration language that would grant legal status to more than one million illegal alien agriculture workers and their families. We urge you to remove these controversial provisions from the bill so we can enact essential funding for our troops without delay. If these provisions remain in the bill, you can expect a vigorous debate on immigration policy.