And another thing

Coin-flip security. Who do Americans trust with their personal information online? A recent survey found that people don't give any institution a ringing endorsement, but the federal government scored a little better than most. Which isn't saying much. InfoSentry Services Inc. of Raleigh, N.C., along with Opinion Research Corp., polled people on how much confidence they had in public and private institutions to store information accurately and securely. (Find the full report at Hospitals and clinics scored best, with a 56 percent positive score, a 15 percent negative score and a net confidence score'the difference between the positive and negative'of 41 percent. The federal government was 52 percent positive, 24 percent negative and 28 percent net. Schools and universities had a 49 percent positive score, a 17 percent negative score and a 32 percent net. The rest of the list, in order of net confidence scores: large corporations (27 percent), state government and local government (22 percent each), and small businesses (7 percent). Even in the most positive light, basically half the people'who nevertheless hand over their information every day, often without any choice in the matter'don't trust anyone to keep that vital data safe. Now we can all rest easy.

Polarizing project. The National Science Foundation is getting ready for International Polar Year 2007-2008 by setting up a Web portal'at, or use at During the project, teams from more than 100 countries will conduct research in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. It's being broken into two six-month periods spread over two years so teams can avoid working in the constant darkness and extreme cold of polar winter. Alongside scientific reports and analyses, the portal will host information for the general public, classroom activities and a multimedia gallery.

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