iFive: Bailed Assange Back to Work, Facebook’s Memories, California’s Greenhouse Gas, Virgin Aims at Orbit, Apple Leakers Jailed

One last day before the weekend’s opportunity to relax, so here’s the early tech news to get you a head start on the day:

Did you check Twitter before reading this? I did before writing it. That’s something one can’t easily do in China, as it’s too “dangerous” an open channel, and so is censored. Yet China’s now launched its own Twitter-like service called Red Microblog to make it seem like it cares. No chatter about WikiLeaks though–so far it seems like just a propaganda channel. On with the real news:


1. WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange is free on bail in the U.K., holed up on a supporter’s country estate wearing an electronic tag, with no passport and a curfew. But he’s in a fighting mood–lashing out at companies that blocked payments to his website and insisting he will continue leaking. He’s not speaking to the press, but while Sweden tries to extradite him he’s free to use the Internet. We’ll probably see what effect this has on WikiLeaks pretty swiftly.

2. Facebook seems to have accidentally revealed and then pulled a new feature, dubbed Memories. It’s a feature that sums up your activity for the past year in a special timeline–like an old family video reel–and shows how Facebook’s trying to move into another corner of your social life.

3. California just passed a very significant eco-protection bill, the first in the U.S. designed to financially incentivize companies to emit fewer greenhouse gasses. California’s trying to “fill the vacuum created by the failure of Congress to pass any kind of climate or energy legislation for many years.” Is the bill effective, though, or just a lot of hot air?

4. As NASA pushes its plans to help commercial companies get passengers into orbit, Virgin Galactic has announced it’s joining Orbital Sciences and Sierra Nevada Space in their submission, leveraging the planned success of its own nascent sub-orbital space business, and bringing all sorts of technical expertise to the bid. Virgin in orbit… will Branson have to brand it Virgin Universal?

5. Leaking Apple inside information just got a bunch of people thrown in jail for insider trading, because not only were they sharing proprietary info about Apple’s plans from inside supplier Flextronics, but they were doing so with Wall Street hedge fund managers–people who can influence the stock price. Dumb. But at least we learned that even mentioning an Apple code word can get you fired.

To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.


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