John McCain Is Not Internet Savvy Compared to 106 Year Old

July 21, 2008

If Sen. John McCain is really serious about becoming a Web-savvy citizen, perhaps Kathryn Robinson can help.

Robinson is now 106 – that’s 35 years older than McCain – and she began using the Internet at 98, at the Barclay Friends home in West Chester, Pa., where she lives. “I started to learn because I wanted to e-mail my family,” she says – in an e-mail message, naturally.

Blogs have been buzzing recently over McCain’s admission that when it comes to the Internet, “I’m an illiterate who has to rely on his wife for any assistance he can get.” And the 71-year-old presumptive Republican nominee, asked about his Web use last week by the New York Times, said that aides “go on for me. I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself.”

How unusual is it for a 71-year-old American to be unplugged?

That depends how you look at the statistics. Only 35 percent of Americans over age 65 are online, according to data from April and May compiled by the Pew Internet Project at the Pew Research Center.

But when you account for factors like race, wealth and education, the picture changes dramatically. “About three-quarters of white, college-educated men age over 65 use the Internet,” says Susannah Fox, director of the project.

“John McCain is an outlier when you compare him to his peers,” Fox says. “On one hand, a U.S. senator has access to information sources and staff assistance that most people do not. On the other, the Internet has become such a go-to resource that it’s a curiosity to hear that someone doesn’t rely on it the way most Americans do.”

McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan presented a somewhat updated picture when contacted by The Associated Press on Friday: “He’s fully capable of browsing the Internet and checking Web sites,” Buchanan said. “He has a Mac and uses it several times a week. He’s working on becoming more familiar with the Internet.”

That’s a good thing, says Tobey Dichter, CEO of Generations on Line, a group that helps bring seniors – including the 106-year-old Robinson – into the digital age.

“He needs the self-empowerment” of going online himself, says Dichter. “There are too many people surrounding John McCain who are willing to print an e-mail for him” -or do a search on his behalf, like the aides who, he says, show him the Drudge Report.

“But that cheats him of an opportunity to let his own mind take him to the next link,” says Dichter. “If he doesn’t know what links are available, he will only get exactly what he’s asking for, and nothing more.”

Why do most of us – 73 percent of Americans – use the Internet? The top three reasons are, in order, e-mail, informational searches, and finding a map or driving directions.

But there are dozens of other conveniences: Online banking, shopping, travel or restaurant reservations, job searches, real estate listings, and of course, the news (McCain, like many people over 30 or so, prefers his newspapers the old-fashioned way.) “The Internet is the ultimate convenience appliance,” says Fox.

McCain may be in “digital denial,” as Dichter calls it, but his family sure isn’t: His wife, Cindy, has been seen scrolling away on her Blackberry, and daughter Meghan, one of his seven children, blogs from the campaign trail on McCain Blogette.

As for McCain’s Democratic rival, Barack Obama is 46, and thus in an age group where fully 85 percent of Americans are plugged in. A CNN clip available on YouTube shows him so engrossed with his Blackberry while crossing a street that he bumps into the curb.

McCain’s frank admissions of his offline state have led to discussion of whether being wired is a qualification for leading the free world. One aide, Mark Soohoo, defended the senator’s lack of wiredness at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York in June by assuring the panel: “John McCain is aware of the Internet.”

One blogger opined last week that all the fuss is silly. McCain, wrote Newsweek’s Andrew Romano, hasn’t become computer literate because he hasn’t needed to. “When aides are responding to your messages and briefing you on every imaginable subject, the incentive to get online sort of disappears,” he wrote.

McCain is hardly the only prominent, wealthy, powerful man in the country to lack an affinity with computers. To take one, Sumner Redstone, the 85-year-old chairman of Viacom, “is not an avid user,” says a spokesman, Carl Falto. “He’s capable of going on but doesn’t do it frequently.”

On the other hand, famed Broadway director Arthur Laurents, 91, whose “Gypsy” is now a hit on Broadway, is known to respond faster to e-mails than to phone calls.

Among fellow senators, aides to Sen. Robert Byrd, 90, say he has a computer but prefers to speak directly to his staff and doesn’t carry a Blackberry.

What keeps some American seniors unwired? Some lack immediate access to a computer, Dichter says. But intimidation, she says, is the greatest problem.

“One has to be compassionate with a person who hasn’t gotten onto the information highway early, because the cumulative vocabulary is so intimidating,” she says. Also, many older people “feel they have a perfectly happy life without it. They feel that the world is overrun with electronic devices already.”

But, Dichter says, such people often change their minds when they realize they can get family pictures via e-mail – not to mention health information, support groups, and local community news. And Fox, of Pew, notes that seniors outpace other age groups in tracing their family’s genealogy online (a third of them say they do so, compared to a quarter of all Internet users.)

Robinson credits her computer with helping her withstand the effects of a stroke she suffered in 2003. “In my case I had a stroke and as a result could not talk,” she says in her e-mail. “The computer has been a lifesaver for me.”

Article by Jocelyn Novec

Andre Jetmir iNPLACENEWS

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Major Phishing Operation Busted

May 19, 2008

Thirty-eight people were charged Monday with stealing names, Social Security numbers, credit card data and other personal information from unsuspecting Internet users as part of a global crime ring. The Romanian-based phishing organization sought to steal from thousands of consumers and hundreds of financial institutions. The Justice Department describes this kind of operation as a growing worldwide threat posed by organized crime.

While in Bucharest annoucing the charges being filed, Deputy Attorney General Mark R. Filip said, “International organized crime poses a serious threat not only to the United States and Romania, but to all nation”. “Criminals who exploit the power and convenience of the Internet do not recognize national borders; therefore our efforts to prevent their attacks cannot end at our borders either.”

The practice known as “phishing” involves sending e-mails that include links directing recipients to fake web sites where they are asked to input sensitive data but could also include attachments that, when clicked, secretly install “spyware” that can capture personal information and send it to third parties over the Internet.

More than half of the people charged in Monday’s cases are Romanian, although the alleged scam also operated from the United States, Canada, Portugal and Pakistan. The cases were linked by two Romanians who participated in both schemes, authorities said.

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Man Arrested For making 12 year old a Dominatrix

May 14, 2008

Federal prosecutors have unsealed an indictment accusing Todd B. Barkau, 35, of New York state, and a 44-year-old woman of training the woman’s child to be a dominatrix, selling her sexual services and photographing some of the acts. U.S. Attorney John Wood said the case is unusual in that a parent has been charged with the commercial sex trafficking of his or her own young child. Having once lived together in Blue Springs, Missouri, the sex business was supposedly run.

“Barkau obtained control of a 12-year-old girl and he groomed, trained and forced her to become a sexual dominatrix,” the U.S. attorney said in Kansas City on Monday. The mother’s name is not being published to protect the identity of the daughter, now 20. Both suspects will likely be held in federal custody without bail, according to a motion filed by federal prosecutors.

The indictment says the training began in 2000, when the girl was only 12. It also says she was forced to engage in sex acts with him and with other men. According to the indictment, he also had the girl watch pornography on the Internet as a teaching tool. Further, Barkau used the internet to market the girl and her services for about two years. The mother is charged with encouraging and participating in the venture, the indictment says.

Prosecutors will reportedly seek $80,000 the couple is accused of having made through sex trafficking.

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Interpol Seeks Public’s Help In Identifying Serial Pedophile

May 6, 2008

Interpol, an organization that facilitates global cooperation between police and law enforcement agencies around the world, is appealing to the public for help for only the second time in the history of the organization. The help they seek is in identifying a man who appeared in pictures sexually abusing boys on the internet.

Originally, this existence of this man and the hundreds of photos he appears in abusing at least three boys between the ages six and ten became evident when authorities discovered the photos during the arrest of a man in 2006 in Norway.

The man in question appears to be in his late 40s or early 50s with thinning hair the color of gray in photos releases by interpol on its website. Interpol has posted photos on their site. If you recognize

this man, please contact them immediately.

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Stephen Colbert wins Webby Person of the Year

May 6, 2008

Having already earned the title of “Greatest Living American”, it is only fitting that Stephen Colbert would also be named “Webby Person of the Year.”
Colbert became the “Greatest Living American” according to Google. His fans had “Google-bombed” him to the top. In other words, by posting comments all over the Web that contained his name and “Greatest Living American”, they made him the top result when anyone searched Google for the title. Also, Colbert’s use of the Internet, including questioning the accuracy of Wikipedia, getting 78 new members per minute added to his presidential candidacy Facebook page, and his ability to get fans to rack up donations online for DonorsChoose.org earned him the award.

The Webby Awards honor excellence on the Internet, including Web sites, online film and video, mobile Web sites and interactive advertising from around the world.

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