FCC approval could open door to 'super Wi-Fi'

The Federal Communications Commission approved a proposal Thursday that would open vast amounts of unused broadcast television airwaves for high-speed wireless broadband networks and other unlicensed applications. The change in available airwaves, which were freed up by the conversion of television signals from analog to digital, constitutes the first significant block of spectrum made available for unlicensed use by the FCC in 20 years. Supporters of the measure hope the airwaves will be used for stronger and faster wireless networks -- known as "super Wi-Fi" because of the signals' ability to pass more easily through obstacles -- and for use in providing Internet access to rural areas.

Japanese hacker defends attack on Twitter

This week's Twitter attack that caused a widespread headache for the micro-blogging service appears to have been triggered by a Japanese computer hacker who says he was only trying to help. The attack, which emerged and was shut down within hours Tuesday morning, involved a "cross-site scripting" flaw that allowed users to run JavaScript programs on other computers. The originator is believed to be someone who uses the name "Masato Kinugawa" in cyberspace and acknowledges creating the Twitter account "RainbowTwtr" that demonstrated the vulnerability. Kinugawa says he contacted Twitter about the weakness on Aug. 14 -- but in vain. "Rather than have someone maliciously abuse this under the radar, I decided it would be better to urgently expose this as a serious problem and have it be addressed," he tweeted.

Avis, Hertz battle over Dollar Thrifty

Avis raised its offer for Dollar Thrifty to $1.52 billion in cash and stock Thursday, one week before a scheduled vote by shareholders on a bid from rival car rental company Hertz. The latest offer from Avis values Dollar Thrifty at $53 per share, compared with a $50 per-share offer from Hertz. Avis, based in Parsippany, N.J., also appealed directly to Dollar Thrifty shareholders, who may decide the company's fate in a matter of days.

Recession over? No way, says Buffett

Billionaire Warren Buffett says the economy remains in a recession, by his definition, because most people and businesses still aren't doing as well as they were before the financial crisis. Buffett talked about the economy and his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. businesses in an interview that aired Thursday on CNBC. Buffett's assessment of the economy contradicts the view of experts who announced this week that the recession officially ended in June 2009. But Buffett says he uses a commonsense standard to evaluate the economy.

Philly papers sold at bankruptcy auction

Secured lenders won a bankruptcy auction for Philadelphia's two largest newspapers, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, with a $105 million cash bid, topping an $85 million bid from philanthropist Raymond Perelman and the Carpenters Union pension fund. This time, terms require the sale to close Oct. 5 -- with or without a contract agreement with the papers' drivers, an obstacle that scuttled an earlier sale.

Needle on economic gauge rose a bit in August

A nationwide gauge of future economic activity rose modestly in August, suggesting slow economic growth will continue this winter. The Conference Board, a private research group, said Thursday its index of leading economic indicators increased 0.3 percent last month after rising 0.1 percent in July. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected another 0.1 percent increase in August.

Uptick in sales of previously occupied homes

Sales of previously occupied homes rose last month, but not enough to keep this summer from being the slowest for home sales in more than a decade. About 3.4 million previously occupied homes had been sold in the U.S. through August. Most experts expect roughly 5 million to be sold through the entire year. That would be in line with last year's totals and just above sales for 2008, the worst since 1997. Sales of previously occupied homes did increase 7.6 percent in August from July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.13 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. But July's sales were the worst in 15 years, making August the second worst since 1997.

FROM NEWS SERVICES