12/29/2007

Saudi blogger arrested, held without charges

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Saudi Arabian officials have reportedly detained a blogger whose writing has criticized religious extremism in the country, according to the two press freedom groups and a regional human-rights organization.

Blogger and IT professional Fouad Ahmed al-Farhan, 32, was taken into custody on December 10, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Wednesday. His Arabic-language site now has a “Free Fouad” banner in English across the top.

In a letter sent to friends shortly before his arrest, al-Farhan wrote that he had been told that the interior ministry was investigating him and would pick him up within two weeks. At the time he described the worst case as being jailed for three days, but he was still being held without charge as of Friday, according to Joel Campagna, Middle East program coordinator for the CPJ in New York.

Wal-Mart Abandons Online Movie Downloads

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has closed an online movie download service it launched less than a year ago.

The retreat for Wal-Mart, which accounts for about 40 percent of all DVD sales, follows the company’s 2005 decision to abandoned efforts to build an online DVD rental service. The world’s largest retailer instead turned its rental service over to Netflix Inc.

Wal-Mart still operates a music download service and continues to sell CDs and DVDs at retail stores and over the Internet for shipping by mail.

A message on Wal-Mart’s video download Web site said the store closed Dec. 21. The Web site said customers who already have bought movies could continue to watch them.

AOL pulls plug on Netscape Web browser

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Netscape Navigator, the world’s first commercial Web browser and the launch pad of the Internet boom, will be pulled off life support Feb. 1 after a 13-year run.

Its current caretakers, Time Warner Inc.’s AOL, decided to kill further development and technical support to focus on growing the company as an advertising business. Netscape’s usage dwindled with Microsoft Corp.’s entry into the browser business, and Netscape all but faded away following the birth of its open-source cousin, Firefox.

“While internal groups within AOL have invested a great deal of time and energy in attempting to revive Netscape Navigator, these efforts have not been successful in gaining market share from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer,” Netscape Director Tom Drapeau wrote in a blog entry Friday.

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