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Posted at 6:12 PM ET, 12/ 1/2010

Google is 'evil,' Amazon drops WikiLeaks, and Santa's being tracked: Evening links

By Melissa Bell
height
This is not Santa Claus. It's German sky surfer Freddy "Skymax" Hofmayer on Dec.18, 1995. (Horst Reckmann)

Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, took to Google's official blog to address concerns about a New York Times weekend story, "A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web." The story followed an online company that uses negative customer responses to score higher Google ranks and a woman, Clarabelle Rodriguez, who was fighting back against the company.

"We were horrified to read about Ms. Rodriguez's dreadful experience, the blog read, before launching into an explanation about how Google had convened a team to look into the problem immediately. "We can say with reasonable confidence that being bad to customers is bad for business on Google."

Although the move falls in line with Google's philosophy to do good, Mozilla Firefox's director of community development took to his blog to allege that Google is involved in some very not-good action.

"Sneaking software onto my system that I didn't ask for is evil," Asa Dotzler writes. When certain programs are installed on a person's computer, Microsoft, Google, and Apple add plug-ins to the Firefox Web browser without alerting the user. Dotzler calls the practice a Trojan horse. "Microsoft, stop being evil. Apple, stop being evil. Google, stop being evil."

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WikiLeaks servers at Amazon ousted. Free speech the land of the free--fine our $ are now spent to employ people in Europe.less than a minute ago via web

With the above tweet, WikiLeaks announced that Amazon.com had stopped hosting the site. Amazon would not comment on the decision to remove WikiLeaks, but the Guardian said the decision followed a call by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) for U.S. companies to boycott the site.

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NASA announced a news conference for 2 p.m. Thursday with a scintillating line: "to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life." Eager-for-aliens blogs took this as a sign that NASA would finally acknowledge there are living, breathing Martians out there.

The reality is probably slightly less sexy. NASA Watch reports it will probably be an announcement about:

arsenic-based biochemistry and the implications for the origin of life on Earth... and the implications for life arising elsewhere in the universe.

The wait for E.T. continues.

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And to celebrate the long walk-up to Christmas, our first red-and-green tinged news: The NORAD Santa Claus Tracker will let children (and adults who still act like children) follow Santa's path around the world on Google Earth as he distributes gifts. NORAD is the joint U.S. and Canadian military center in charge of monitoring and defending North American air space, and it's been tracking Santa's flight for more than 50 years.

Jeffrey Weeks writes on Yahoo! that he and his children follow Santa every year but that the move to Google Earth has added a whole new level of coolness:

Now when the children and I go online to check out where Santa is, we can get amazingly detailed information on his current location, complete with Google Earth's vivid graphics. One of the things the kids like to do best is chart the distance from Santa's current location to our own.

Happy searching the digital skies for the sleigh!

By Melissa Bell  | December 1, 2010; 6:12 PM ET
 
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Comments

Amazon apparently doesn't believe in freedom of speech, or the public's right to know what their government is doing behind their backs.

I guess I'll be buying my books @ Barnes & Nobel, now.

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | December 1, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

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