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Chertoff: We must “eliminate people who are susceptible to becoming killers”

Posted on August 14th, 2006 at 18:35 by John Sinteur in category: News


Heard Aug. 11, an NPR interview with Michael Chertoff, US cop of cops. The question he addresses is long-term anti-terrorist policy, the need for psychological studies of what makes “a person turn from an ordinary person to a bomber.”

This is his answer:

“Clearly at the end of the day, we’ve got to eliminate that pool of people who are susceptible to becoming killers.”

“Eliminate”? The interviewer did not ask him to elaborate.

Il a la tete de l’emploi, as one says in French.

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Make a scarf-book to read on UK outbound flights

Posted on August 14th, 2006 at 18:34 by John Sinteur in category: News



If you’re not a high-level politician or multimillionaire, you can’t bring books or magazines on flights out of the United Kingdom. But you are still allowed to wear clothes on planes, and the rules don’t say anything about forbidding clothes with text on them. So why not print books (from Project Gutenberg, or ones that have been released under a creative commons license) onto iron-on transfer paper and put them on a very long piece of cloth.

If airport security says your long strip of printed cloth doesn’t count as a garment you can either wrap it around your head like a giant turban, or you can print it on a narrow scarlet sash and tell them that it’s an emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League and proceed to wind it several times round the waist of your overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of your hips.

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  1. just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of your hips. WHAT! Are you trying to get me arrested?!?!

A closed mind about an open world

Posted on August 14th, 2006 at 18:26 by John Sinteur in category: Free Software


Studying intellectual property and the internet has convinced me that we have another cognitive bias. Call it the openness aversion. We are likely to undervalue the importance, viability and productive power of open systems, open networks and non-proprietary production. Test yourself on the following questions. In each case, it is 1991 and I have removed from you all knowledge of the past 15 years.

You have to design a global computer network. One group of scientists describes a system that is fundamentally open – open protocols and systems so anyone could connect to it and offer information or products to the world. Another group – scholars, businessmen, bureaucrats – points out the problems. Anyone could connect to it. They could do anything. There would be porn, piracy, viruses and spam. Terrorists could put up videos glorifying themselves. Your activist neighbour could compete with The New York Times in documenting the Iraq war. Better to have a well-managed system, in which official approval is required to put up a site; where only a few actions are permitted; where most of us are merely recipients of information; where spam, viruses, piracy (and innovation and anonymous speech) are impossible. Which would you have picked?

Imagine a form of software that anyone could copy and change, created under a licence that required subsequent programmers to offer their software under the same terms. Imagine legions of programmers worldwide contributing their creations back into a “commons?. Is this anarchic-sounding method of production economically viable? Could it successfully compete with the hierarchically organised companies producing proprietary, closed code, controlled by both law and technology?

Set yourself the task of producing the greatest reference work the world has ever seen. It must cover everything from the best Thai food in Raleigh to the annual rice production of Thailand, the best places to see blue whales to the history of the Blue Dog Coalition. Would you create a massive organisation of paid experts with layers of editors producing tomes that are controlled by copyright and trademark? Or would you wait for hobbyists, scientists and volunteer encyclopedists to produce, and search engines to organise, a cornucopia of information? I know which way I would have bet in 1991. But I also know that the last time I consulted an encyclopedia was in 1998.

It is not that openness is always right. Rather, it is that we need a balance between open and closed, owned and free, and we are systematically likely to get the balance wrong. Partly this is because we still do not understand the kind of property that exists on networks. Most of our experience is with tangible property; fields that can be overgrazed if outsiders cannot be excluded. For that kind of property, control makes more sense. We still do not intuitively grasp the kind of property that cannot be exhausted by overuse (think of a piece of software) and that can become more valuable to us the more it is used by others (think of a communications standard). There the threats are different, but so are the opportunities for productive sharing. Our intuitions, policies and business models misidentify both. Like astronauts brought up in gravity, our reflexes are poorly suited for free fall.

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NBC: Disagreement over timing of arrests

Posted on August 14th, 2006 at 18:24 by John Sinteur in category: News


In contrast to previous reports, one senior British official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.

The sources did say, however, that police believe one U.K.-based suspect was ready to conduct a “dry run.” British authorities had wanted to let him go forward with part of the plan, but the Americans balked.

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Many Americans Harbor Strong Bias Against U.S. Muslims

Posted on August 14th, 2006 at 11:22 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ


A new Gallup poll finds that many Americans — what it calls “substantial minorities” — harbor “negative feelings or prejudices against people of the Muslim faith” in this country. Nearly one in four Americans, 22%, say they would not like to have a Muslim as a neighbor.

While Americans tend to disagree with the notion that Muslims living in the United States are sympathetic to al-Qaeda, a significant 34% believe they do back al-Qaeda. And fewer than half — 49% — believe U.S. Muslims are loyal to the United States.

Almost four in ten, 39%, advocate that Muslims here should carry special I.D.

I’m sure I can come up with a design for such an ID. Perhaps something with a yellow star?

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Posted on August 14th, 2006 at 10:44 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture



KLM 785 from Amsterdam sends the fence huggers to their knees as it makes an extremely low pass over Maho Beach just before a very early touchdown on ruwnay 09.

Here is the same landing from a different angle.

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Posted on August 14th, 2006 at 9:56 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon


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Men suspected of Mackinac plot

Posted on August 14th, 2006 at 9:22 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ


Three Texas men arraigned Saturday in Michigan on terrorism-related charges after police found about 1,000 cell phones in their minivan were part of a plot involving the Mackinac Bridge, a county prosecutor said.

“All I can say is that the Mackinac Bridge is the target at issue,” Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene said. “There’s reason to be concerned.”


“All we did is buy the phones to sell and make money,” Louai Abdelhamied Othman told Tuscola District Court Magistrate Joseph Van Auken. The men said they intended to buy the phones in Michigan for $20 and resell them for $38 in Texas. They said their resale business spanned several states.

How do you blow up a bridge with 1000 phones? Drop all of them at the same time? Or wait, you can all set them to vibrate!



The majority of the phones were stored in cardboard boxes, without any packaging. The men also told authorities they separated the batteries from the phones.
“There’s a couple of reasons why you would do that,? said Page. “If you are using them as a bomb detonator, you don’t really need a battery in there, do you? And secondly, batteries can be used in methamphetamine production.?

Clearly if you’re using a phone as a detonator it automatically switches to solar power! And how long until we arrest everybody who buys batteries?

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Fallujah police

Posted on August 14th, 2006 at 8:41 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia


In Fallujah, meanwhile, hundreds of newly recruited police officers failed to show up for work Sunday after insurgents disseminated pamphlets threatening officers who stayed on the job, according to police officials in the restive western city.

“We will kill all the policemen infidels,” read the pamphlets, “whether or not they quit or are still in their jobs.”

Fallujah Police Lt. Mohammed Alwan said that the force, which he estimated had increased to more than 2,000, has shrunk to only 100. Alwan said insurgents have killed dozens of policemen in their homes and also attacked family members in a weeks-long intimidation campaign.

A Fallujah police major, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that at least 1,400 policemen had left their jobs since Friday, 400 of them police officials above the rank of officer.

Marine Lt. Lawton King, who is stationed in Fallujah, called those figures “inaccurate and grossly exaggerated,” saying that only 32 police officers had been assassinated since January and that “substantially fewer than the exaggerated 1,400” officers had failed to report for work.

“only” 32?

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US involved in planning Israel’s operations in Lebanon

Posted on August 14th, 2006 at 7:51 by John Sinteur in category: News


The US government was closely involved in planning
Israel’s military operations against Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia even before the July 12 kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, a US magazine reported.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh writes in The New Yorker magazine that
President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were convinced that a successful Israeli bombing campaign against Hezbollah could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prototype for a potential US preemptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations.

Citing an unnamed Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of the Israeli and US governments, Hersh said Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah — and shared it with Bush administration officials — well before the July 12 kidnappings.

“When they grabbed the soldiers in early July, that was then a pretext” for Israel’s assault on Hezbollah, Hersh said Sunday on CNN television.

“We (the US) worked closely with them (Israel) months before, not necessarily … knowing when it was going to happen, but when there was an incident they will take advantage of the incident, what I call a fortunate timing’,” Hersh said.

“Nobody is suggesting that Israel wouldn’t have done what it did without the Americans,” he added.

I don’t understand Israel – if W and Cheney are convinced some military action is going to help, isn’t that a dead giveaway it is going to fail? The endorsement should have tipped them of not to do it…

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Iraqi has worst fuel shortage since ’03

Posted on August 14th, 2006 at 7:49 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia


Under a scorching sun, Baghdad taxi driver Sameer Abdul Razzaq wraps a wet towel around his head and waits for gasoline in a line stretching a mile. “I’ve been here since 6 a.m.,” he said Sunday. “If I’m lucky, I’ll get to the end of the line by sunset. I actually think I might end up spending the night here.”

This is the capital of what should be one of the world’s great oil producers, but corruption and insurgent attacks have Iraqis mired in their worst fuel shortage since
Saddam Hussein was ousted, with black market gasoline costing as much as $4 a gallon.

The official price is $1 a gallon, but the fuel is often unavailable, forcing most Iraqi drivers to shell out the higher price to streetside vendors or wait in long lines at gas stations.

The shortage affects other petroleum products too. A cylinder of cooking gas costs about $18 on the black market — double the price a few months ago.

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Netherlands is tops on helping poor nations

Posted on August 14th, 2006 at 7:47 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Netherlands leads the world’s 21 wealthiest nations when it comes to promoting policies that help poor countries, according to a new report by the Washington-based Center for Global Development.

The center’s annual Commitment to Development Index (CDI) rates rich countries on aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security and technology.

This year the Netherlands, which previously topped the index in 2004, scored the highest overall points followed by Denmark and Sweden, while Japan trailed last.

The index showed that wealthy countries are contributing more aid to Africa but are less giving when it comes to reducing trade barriers and promoting policies that encourage investment in poor countries.

“Overall, the new scorings show a slow but steady improvement in the commitment of rich countries to growth and poverty reduction in poor countries, said CGD President Nancy Birdsall, adding, “But they fall far short of leaders’ soaring rhetoric in 2005, the so-called ‘Year of Development.”‘

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Mideast Conflict

Posted on August 14th, 2006 at 7:46 by John Sinteur in category: News


Palestinian gunmen, who identified themselves as members of the Islamic Jihad group, shoot a man in a public square in the West Bank town of Jenin Sunday Aug. 13, 2006. The man, who was executed in front of hundreds of people, was accused by the gunmen of giving information to Israeli authorities, helping them to kill two militants last week in a targeted attack, said witnesses and Islamic Jihad members. The victim was identified as Bassem Malah, 22, who worked in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

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