Poof! 73,000 blogsites gone in an instant.

The U.S. government is cracking down on Internet piracy and counterfeiting, acting against nine web portals suspected of streaming first-run movies. Domain names were targeted, and assets were seized from bank, PayPal and other accounts.

This is causing high anxiety over the possibility it is the beginning of a wider crackdown, since a free blogging platform has been taken down by its hosting provider on orders from the U.S. authorities on grounds of “a history of abuse”. More than 73,000 blogs are out of action as a result.

Some folks are asking why all 73,000 were removed from the Internet.

After recent threats from Vice President Joe Biden and Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel directed at sites offering unauthorized movies and music, last month U.S. authorities targeted several sites they claimed were connected to the streaming of infringing video material.

Searching here and there

The Financial Times is reporting that Google’s “search” capability may be the straw that breaks the giant’s back.

Even though there doesn’t seem to be much interest by the feds, Google wants the U.S. government to implement a set of regulations that would stop Internet service providers from favoring particular companies’ traffic.

At the same time, many businesses relying on the Internet believe Google has too much power to decide which Internet sites are granted the attention that comes with a high search ranking.

Antitrust regulators have already begun to look into how the company’s core search-ranking system works, and a European Commission has begun an informal review into allegations of bias in the search rankings. Some want regulators to have closer oversight of Google’s core technology to make sure there is no bias at work.

Suffering from “cultural hubris”

Meanwhile, a group of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs are not optimistic for Google’s future. Given Google’s tremendous success, what could make them adopt a pessimistic attitude toward the Internet giant?

For one thing, Google has experienced a severe talent drain over the past several years, losing some of its most entrepreneurial and innovative people. And for another, the company has run out of easy growth opportunities and must now find big chunks of new revenue.

Writer Peter Sims lists several more reasons here.

Can you hear me now?

Everyone’s got an opinion about Apple’s iPhone 4 antenna design problem. One even wrote a song about it.

CEO Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. acknowledged at last Friday’s news conference that there were issues with the antenna which wraps around the device. But he insisted that the issues are common to all smartphones and accused the media of sensationalizing the issue, saying customers are thrilled with the phone.

“This has been blown so out of proportion that it is incredible,” Jobs said.

Even radio-talk king Rush Limbaugh, who purchased 40 iPhones for staff and friends, weighed in, disputing claims of a problem.

“But, folks, they’ve sold three million of these phones since the end of June,” Limbaugh said. “Three million phones and the number of returns is infinitesimal, and yet the big news is how rotten the phone is. I remember saying on this program many, many times – in jest, being jocular – that Apple would report all this cash on hand. Apple was reporting all these profits, stock price going up.

“I said, ‘Steve Jobs, you better be careful. You are becoming an enemy of the state. If you’re gonna make a profit, don’t brag about it.’ But they can’t help it, ’cause they have to report it, to the SEC and to the Street,” Limbaugh explained. “They’ve just painted a big bull’s-eye on their backs – and, lo and behold – it didn’t take long, did it? – for a couple of schlubs in the media to raise a big ruckus about some problem that is not causing mass returns of the phone.”

Is Apple’s wall of secrecy eroding?

Doing business, 21st–century style

What do a San Francisco dentist, a creme brulee traveling food cart, luxury hotels, Korean cuisine and a jeans maker have in common?

They are a growing number of small businesses flocking to social-media platforms Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Foursquare to engage in conversations with consumers and drive sales through deals and coupons.

Virtual merchandising?

Coming soon to a theater near you

Facebook. The movie.

What Facebook’s co-founder thinks of it.

Coming in October. Meet the real Mark Zuckerberg, set to the same music.

And why is Facebook so white?

Dancing on graves

An Auschwitz survivor returned to Auschwitz with his grandkids and filmed a video of them dancing to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” – as a way to celebrate life and the ability to overcome obstacles.

This created a firestorm of controversy, as some found it offensive, while others were heartwarmed by it. Watch the video and decide for yourself.

Is Twitter ‘twipping’ up?

Twitter recently announced 105 million registered users, which is roughly ten times its estimated user base from a year earlier. In one year, traffic to Twitter.com more than doubled, to 90 million people per month.

But all is not well in Twitterland, where CEO and co-founder Evan Williams is said to be on the verge of being ousted from his microblogging paradise.

These should be Williams’ glory days. Why aren’t they?

Paging Dr. Fixit.

Your server is down.

Yelp help

Yelp’s Android app, launched last December, is approaching one million downloads, and activity on the app is picking up like crazy due to a recent upgrade that adds the ability to check into Yelp locations and Tweet them out or share them on Facebook. The number of active users is growing 50 percent a week, according to Yelp.

Tech reporter Erick Schonfeld writes: “Across all mobile phones (iPhone, Blackberry, Android), Yelp has 2.5 million active users a month. The vast majority of those are still on the iPhone. And while this is only a small fraction (7 percent) of the 34 million monthly unique visitors going to the Website, mobile users account for 27 percent of Yelp’s local searches. CEO Jeremy Stoppleman tells me that mobile is Yelp’s ‘fastest area of growth.'”

Mapping out aid for Haiti

The island nation of Haiti is still struggling to recover from the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck on Jan. 12, disrupting everything from systems that keep water clean to those keeping people healthy.

A new website – HaitiAidMap.org – will increase the efficiency of U.S. nongovernment organizations’ relief efforts to provide shelter, food, water, electricity and medical care. The site maps organization projects in the country, updates them in real time and makes information searchable by category, location or the organization’s name. There are 81 InterAction members involved in Haiti relief efforts, and about 50 have projects operating there.

Blue Swarm turns green into gold

In the past, politicians have relied on fundraisers who bundled donations from a network of wealthy patrons.

But fundraising has entered the technological age. For example, President Obama’s 2008 campaign raised roughly half a billion online from 3 million donors and some 6.5 million donations – most of those donations were in increments of $100 or less.

Proof that political fundraising is undergoing a transformation can be seen by greater use of online portals and Facebook’s power.

Today’s politicians are taking advantage of Internet social-networking channels like BlueSwarm, a program that lets any campaign manage and track all online donations, recruit new fundraisers and review their progress, thus helping politicians connect with small and large donors and, ultimately, transform those donors into fundraisers.

The final measure

The heartbreaking reality of defending our country and freedom around the world is the cost of lives among our nation’s uniformed warriors. ICasualties.org is where you’ll find an accurate count of Iraq and Afghanistan military fatalities by month and by year. The numbers include those of coalition partners.

Pray for our troops.

Price at the pump

This is pretty nifty. Just enter your zip code and it tells you which gas stations have the cheapest and highest prices in your zip-code area. It’s updated every evening.

Be a good neighbor and pass this gas along.

One nation, under God

It’s what we stand for.

The U.S. Constitution for kids is a great place to start. A wonderful site to share with your children and grandchildren. Most schools are NOT teaching our U.S. Constitution, so it is up to us as parents and grandparents to share this information with them. Share this with your family, friends and email buddies.

Through the lens of history

1945 – Allied leaders gather at Potsdam

1965 – South Korea’s first president dies in exile

1969 – Man takes first steps on the moon

1974 – Turkey invades Cyprus

1976 – African countries boycott Olympics

1977 – Deng Xiaoping back in power

1996 – ‘War criminal’ Karadzic resigns

1997 – IRA declares ceasefire

Now Playing at the Princess in Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WorldNetDaily readers Al Brookings, Ft. Worth, Texas; Katie Wagner, Rapid City, S.D.; and Lee Scott, Winchester, Mass., who were among the first to correctly guess actress Renee Zellweger’s portrayal of Beatrix Potter, the author of the beloved and best-selling children’s book, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”, in “Miss Potter”, a 2006 Golden-Globe-nominated movie.

The quote was: “There’s something delicious about writing those first few words of a story. You can never quite tell where they will take you. Mine took me here, where I belong.”

This week’s quote:

“I rode the bench for two years. Thought I wasn’t being played because of my color. I got filled up with a lot of attitude, so I quit. Still not a week goes by I don’t regret it, and I guarantee a week won’t go by in your life you won’t regret walking out letting them get the best of you. Do you hear me clear enough?”

Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Good luck!

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