P> NRO'S NEW DIGS, REDUX
James Woolsey, the head of U.S. intelligence programs, was clobbered Aug. 8 by Senators armed with a financial audit showing the cost of the new Northern Virginia headquarters for the CIA's National Reconnaissance Office would top $350 million.
But the NRO, which spends several billion dollars a year building and operating the nation's spy satellites, had won congressional approval in 1990 for its new Chantilly, Va., headquarters, said Marty Faga, who headed the agency until mid-1993.
The high-tech, high-security headquarters is under budget, and will likely save hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years in management improvements, he said.
The cause of the public blowup may be friction between Woolsey and Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., and head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who called the press conference Aug. 8 to reveal the audit, said industry sources. DeConcini and Woolsey have clashed publicly several times before, most notably over the future of satellite-building programs.
Digital telephony reappears
After months of backroom negotiations, two Senate and House committees have proposed a bill allowing the FBI to track illegal activities on the infobahn.
The still-unnamed proposal, dubbed the digital telephony bill, was announced Aug. 9 by Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and Rep. Don Edwards, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's panel on civil and constitutional rights.
It provides government money to allow industry to cooperatively develop and deploy the wiretapping technology, strengthens the privacy of wireless and e-mail links, allows deployment of unbreakable encryption, and eases public review of wiretapping policies, said a congrssional staff member.
The bill should win approval from Congress this year because it has carefully balanced the conflicting desires of the FBI, the phone companies and privacy advocates, the staff member said.
MICKEY'S WATCHING YOU
M-I-C -- see you real soon... K-E-Y -- why? Because Disney wants to know where you are.
Whether you know it or not, on future trips to Disney theme parks your every move may be tracked.
Disney is negotiating with Virginia Polytechnic Institute to develop an advanced wireless communications system, possibly to include high-tech admission tickets that transmit a visitor's location to a park base station.
The system would help Disney -- which has been surprisingly tight-lipped about its technology going into its new Northern Virginia historical theme park -- identify exactly where people are spending their time once inside the gates. The technology could be implemented in existing parks and in the new attraction.
HUGHES: $114 M NOT ENOUGH
The $114 million the United States government was ordered to pay Los Angeles-based Hughes Aircraft Co. in the Williams patent case (WT, June 23) is not enough, according to the satellite maker.
Hughes said it does not believe that a 1 percent royalty is fair or "just compensation," and is appealing the trial court's ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.
The evidence on record supports a higher reasonable royalty rate for the communications satellite patent, Hughes says.
GOVERNOR GIVES VITRO $1.5 M
Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer visited Vitro Corp. in Rockville, Md., on Aug. 2 to hand over a $1.5 million workforce training grant to assist with corporate software engineering, education and training initiatives -- a grant that helps keep Vitro in Maryland.
Net SURFERS NETTING SHELLFISH -- SEAWEED INCLUDED
Internet surfers may find more can wash up on their proverbial shores than just bits and bytes of info-enhancements; surfers can also net lobsters.
These aren't virtual lobsters. They're real Rockport, Mass., lobsters -- seaweed still intact -- ordered via Internet and are delivered by FedEx in so-called "high-tech boxes."
The Online BookStore, which has been offering online texts, recently added lobsters to its menu.
Averaging 1.5 pounds each, the lobsters come in boxes of two for $65, four for $95, or six for $120. The lobsters arrive 36 hours after ordering using your Mastercard or Visa. Immediate cooking and eating is recommended, of course.
Surfers interested in taking a look for themselves can check out photographs of Roy's Lobster Shack and a rare blue lobster using a Mosaic menu at http://marketplace.com/ 0/obs/obshome.html or via gopher at marketplace.com.
* A July 14 story on Clipper chip alternatives misidentified the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
* In that same issue, a quote was incorrectly paraphrased in a story about fractal databases. The quote, attributed to William Gillett, vice president of new business development at Cross/Z International, should have read: "[Mark and Andre] were trying to find a place to get top mathematical and programming resources."
* In our July 28 issue, we incorrectly identified the manufacturer of the National Security Agency's Tessera encryption card, which is made by Group Technologies Corp., Tampa, Fla.
* In that same issue, Bill Grieser, lead software engineer for Storm Integration Inc. of San Jose, Calif., was misidentified in a picture caption.
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