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British authorities said Thursday they won’t prosecute a hacker who would prefer to face trial in his own country rather than face extradition to the U.S. Gary McKinnon, of London, has said he would plead guilty to an offense under the U.K.’s Computer Misuse Act if he could stay in the country rather than face trial in the U.S., where he was indicted in November 2002. McKinnon faces charges of illegally accessing and damaging U.S. government computers. The U.S. government alleges his exploits cost at least US$700,000 and caused the shutdown of critical military networks shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. McKinnon could face a sentence of 60 years or more.

The National Science Foundation on Thursday said that it had requested a budget of US$7 billion for fiscal year 2010 to fund basic science and technology research at U.S. universities. The requested amount is a 16 percent increase over what NSF received the previous year from the U.S. government. The budget request needs approval from Congress. Part of NSF’s final budget will then be assigned to technology research at universities. NSF does not fund private sector research, but works with companies to provide resources for university researchers to conduct experiments.

Yahoo’s new CEO has implemented a management restructuring, as the company continues to struggle in a search market dominated by Google.  CEO Carol Bartz said the changes make the structure simpler and will let Yahoo make speedier decisions and focus better on customers. The changes include combining the Tech and Product groups into a new group lead by Ari Balogh, who will be executive vice president and CTO. He’ll report directly to Bartz and will be responsible for overseeing the vision, strategy and quality of all Yahoo products.

Dell’s net income dropped 48 percent for the fourth quarter, the company said Thursday, as it also announced it is increasing its cost-cutting goal to US$4 billion by the end of fiscal 2011 as it tries to come to terms with the recession. The company recorded net income of $351 million for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 30, a 48 percent drop from the $679 million it recorded in last year’s fourth quarter. Reduced IT spending has taken its toll on the company, with spending deferred until the economy improves. The company now aims to reduce costs by $4 billion by the end of fiscal 2011, a change from the original target of $3 billion announced in May.

…And those are the top stories from the IDG Global IT News Update, brought to you by the IDG News Service. I’m Sumner Lemon in Singapore. Join us again later for more news from the world of technology.

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