The Circuit

Tipping the Internet

Not only did the Internet perform admirably after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, it is now proving to be an excellent investigative tool. The Internet is generating the majority of the tips the FBI is receiving for its probe into the worst terrorist incidents on U.S. soil.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said Sept. 18 that the FBI's special terrorist tip Web site had received more than 54,000 tips. That compares with 9,000 from a phone hot line and 33,000 generated by FBI agents. Ashcroft did not discuss the credibility of the tips received at

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services, which has been handling some of the government's disaster relief efforts, has reorganized its Web page to provide easier access to resources for those affected by the attacks. "The new Web page is a one-stop site for people to turn to for information on how to help if they want to and where to get help for themselves, family or friends," said HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson. The site ( contains information on blood donations, how to volunteer and help for seniors.

New Face for USDA

The Agriculture Department will launch a redesigned Web site this fall, according to Webmaster Vic Powell. The format will be condensed, information will be easier to locate, and there will be fewer links on the home page. The idea is now being reviewed by the 40 departments within the USDA that have their own Web sites, Powell said.

The Bush administration "wanted a new approach and some fresh material on the opening page," he said. The redesign, which was done internally and cost nothing but staff time, can't come soon enough for visitors to the site. That number reached 1.3 million the week of Aug. 28, the last time the USDA counted Web visitors.

The Real Web

The Voice of America officially launched its new Web site for China this month at It offers U.S. and international news in Mandarin and features an interview with former President Jimmy Carter, who observed a village election outside Shanghai.

Carter told VOA that the villagers "are voting in a completely secret way. They apparently have a very high turnout today, maybe because Voice of America is here."

The new site expands an e-mail service VOA has been sending to Chinese subscribers since 1997, when VOA's Chinese Web team developed and sent condensed scripts of Chinese-language news of international and domestic events not reported by the state-run media.

Meanwhile, far away in Antarctica, the National Science Foundation is spending more than $200 million a year for expeditions to study the South Pole. A number of Web sites sponsored by NSF and other academic groups provide a wealth of information about polar studies, including the search for meteorites in Antarctica ( meteorites.htm).

Students who want to correspond with a scientist at the South Pole can contact NSF to arrange it. Did you know, for instance, that Antarctica holds 90 percent of the world's ice and represents 70 percent of the world's fresh water?

Got a tip? Send it to [email protected].


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