February 1, 2009 in Nation/World

Nation in brief: Google apologizes for computer glitch

 

Computer users doing Google searches during a nearly one-hour period Saturday morning were greeted with disturbing but erroneous messages that every site turned up in the results might be harmful.

The company blamed the mistake on human error and apologized for any inconvenience caused to users and site owners whose pages were incorrectly labeled.

The glitch occurred between 6:30 a.m. PST and 7:25 a.m. PST, Google Inc. said in an explanation on its company blog. Anyone who did a Google search during that time likely saw the message “This site may harm your computer” accompanying every search result, the company said.

Google said it routinely flags any search results with that message if the site is known to install malicious software in the background or otherwise surreptitiously, a practice aimed at protecting its users. Google said it maintains a list of suspicious sites.

Saturday’s error happened when Google erroneously applied one of its periodic list updates in such a way that the warning would apply to all URLs, the company said in a statement.

Kenova, W.Va.

Pilot reports low fuel before crash

Federal officials said Saturday a small plane struggled to stay on course in snowy weather and its pilot reported being low on fuel before it crashed in West Virginia, killing all six on board.

The twin-engine Piper PA-34’s pilot issued a mayday call on the radio Friday afternoon reporting it was low on fuel shortly before witnesses said it struck a power line and crashed in a wooded area near Huntington, W.Va.

The plane was destroyed, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Brian Rayner said. The engines were separated from the wings, which were broken in several places. The cockpit area was severely deformed and a cable was entangled in the wreckage.

Coatsville, Pa.

Four new fires hit arson-beset area

Authorities said four arson fires reported Saturday “share a commonality” with other intentionally set blazes that have plagued this area outside Philadelphia, but they wouldn’t say if they were connected.

The four house fires were reported early Saturday near Coatesville, which has been hit with more than 30 suspicious fires over the past year. The number includes at least 17 that have occurred since Jan. 1. Nearly all have been started on porches.

No injuries were reported in Saturday’s fires. Authorities said only one house had significant damage.

From wire reports


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