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No Fly List

Posted on December 31st, 2009 at 13:36 by John Sinteur in category: Security


In 1993 this IRA thug walked into a fish shop in Belfast with a bomb that went off prematurely (of course) injuring 57 people, including a 79-year-old woman and two two-year-old boys. It also killed ten people, including a thirteen-year-old girl named Leanne Baird, and her little sister, Michelle, seven.

And that’s why a 12 year old girl has problems every time she tries to board a plane.

But boy, do I feel safe now!

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TSA subpoenas bloggers, demands names of sources

Posted on December 31st, 2009 at 13:10 by John Sinteur in category: Security


As the government reviews how an alleged terrorist was able to bring a bomb onto a U.S.-bound plane and try to blow it up on Christmas Day, the Transportation Security Administration is going after bloggers who wrote about a directive to increase security after the incident.

I feel much safer already.

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Priests should really take this into consideration.

Posted on December 31st, 2009 at 10:20 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

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Ten Commandments

Posted on December 31st, 2009 at 10:08 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News


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The Neural Advantage of Speaking Two 2 Languages

Posted on December 31st, 2009 at 9:41 by John Sinteur in category: News


The ability to speak a second language isn’t the only thing that distinguishes bilingual people from their monolingual counterparts—their brains work differently, too. Research has shown, for instance, that children who know two languages more easily solve problems that involve misleading cues. A new study published in Psychological Science reveals that knowledge of a second language—even one learned in adolescence—affects how people read in their native tongue. The findings suggest that after learning a second language, people never look at words the same way again.

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Sources: Limbaugh Hospitalized With Chest Pains

Posted on December 31st, 2009 at 9:27 by John Sinteur in category: News


Conservative radio talk host Rush Limbaugh was rushed to a Honolulu hospital on Wednesday afternoon with chest pains, sources told KITV.

He probably had a heart-attack when somebody showed him Obama’s birth certificate..

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  1. In the spirit of enlightened discourse which Rush has popularized if not pioneered:
    I hope he dies.

  2. I will never hope for somebody to die – doing so would drag me down to the same level.

  3. Aside of course from recommending suicide to advertisers.

  4. He’s a very bad person. I disagree with Jim; off with his head!

Call it what it is!

Posted on December 31st, 2009 at 9:11 by John Sinteur in category: Funny!

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  1. The fourth ‘F’ originally was probably “Farking”, but the naughty word police changed the text to something more PC…

  2. Could it have been ‘fiddling’?

  3. I was thinking of “frolicking” myself…

  4. Well, this is funnier than if they’d written “fornicating”.

Model Fighters

Posted on December 31st, 2009 at 8:20 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


Retired dentist, Young C. Park, caught the model airplane bug as a boy, growing up in Hawaii. He continued to build and fly kits his whole life. But when he retired, he wanted to combine his fascination for aluminum, with his love of fighter planes. He decided to build models of the F-4U-D Corsair, and later the P-51 Mustang, out of aluminum the way they were built originally.

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  1. Very cool! Now the salient question – do they fly?

Is aviation security mostly for show?

Posted on December 31st, 2009 at 6:42 by John Sinteur in category: Quote


Despite fearful rhetoric to the contrary, terrorism is not a transcendent threat. A terrorist attack cannot possibly destroy a country’s way of life; it’s only our reaction to that attack that can do that kind of damage. The more we undermine our own laws, the more we convert our buildings into fortresses, the more we reduce the freedoms and liberties at the foundation of our societies, the more we’re doing the terrorists’ job for them.

— Bruce Schneier

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  1. Got to hand it to Bruce. In a freaking nutshell.

The True Odds of Airborne Terror Chart

Posted on December 30th, 2009 at 15:27 by John Sinteur in category: Security


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  1. Still better odds than winning the lotto powerball in the states which is more or less 1 in 195,249,054

  2. 1 in 10,408,947 or 500,000 per what? Per year? Per average lifetime? Are those two using the same period? (I doubt it.)

  3. Maarten – At the top, it says this data is from Oct. 1999 – Sep. 2009 inclusive, so that would indicate that the chances are per decade.

Risky Lenders Did More Aggressive Lobbying: IMF Report

Posted on December 30th, 2009 at 11:06 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


It should come as no surprise then, that according to a new report from the IMF, lenders that did the most aggressive lobbying also engaged in the most risky loans.

Excessive risk, in other words, is correlated with campaign cash and lobbying money. Banks and corporations which committed millions to lobbying, the report rather timidly suggests, may have received “preferential treatment” and influenced policy decisions.

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Calvin & Hobbes

Posted on December 30th, 2009 at 10:17 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

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Health Care

Posted on December 30th, 2009 at 10:16 by John Sinteur in category: News

“Illegal aliens” get cheap healthcare intended only for citizens.

I guess it’s time to build a fence.

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Analyze This: The Mind of the Underpants Bomber

Posted on December 30th, 2009 at 9:04 by John Sinteur in category: News


Here’s a rare chance to step inside a would-be terrorist’s head. From 2005 to 2007, underpants bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab appears to have posted 310 times to the Islamic Forum on Gawaher.com, under the handle “Farouk1986.” Now, all of Farouk1986’s posts have been assembled into a single file, thanks to Evan Kohlmann, the NEFA Foundation’s indefatigable jihadism researcher.

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  1. And? Anything interesting?

Why is the mainstream media not digging into the AT&T story?

Posted on December 30th, 2009 at 9:00 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, If you're in marketing, kill yourself


Even now, with the blogs all over the story, and Michael Wolff griping, and with AT&T admitting that its coverage in New York and San Francisco isn’t up to par — even now, with all this going on, no one in the mainstream media will hold AT&T’s feet to the fire.

Know why? Katie points me to this article. The big T was the second-biggest ad spender last year, just slightly behind Verizon. For the first nine months of this year they’ve dropped a bit but they’re still the fourth-biggest advertiser.

But wait a minute, you say. Would TV networks and leading newspapers really look the other way on a big story just because they feared losing advertising revenue? Would AT&T really use its advertising budget as a weapon to shape the way it gets covered? Surely that kind of thing doesn’t happen.

Yeah. Surely not. Must be something else. All that breaking news about the underpants bomber or something.

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Over Detroit Skies

Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 20:46 by John Sinteur in category: News

Here is a good eye witness account of what happened on the crotch-bomber flight…

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Five years since the Tsunami

Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 18:41 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


Five years ago, on Boxing Day, December 26th, 2004, a magnitude 9.3 earthquake hit the seafloor of the Indian Ocean, causing tremendous waves of seawater to rush ashore as devastating tsunamis that left 230,000 people dead across 13 different countries – the fifth deadliest natural disaster in recorded history. Over 45,000 of the dead were never found. Five years later now, reconstruction moves apace, as multiple aid groups have built more than 140,000 homes, 1,700 schools, 3,800 houses of worship and 3,700 km of roads. On this anniversary of the catastrophe, we have collected here photographs of survivors, some rebuilding, some remembering, and seven sets of “before and after” photos (numbers 4-10, be sure to click them to see the transition effect). I’d also like to direct your attention to a fantastic multimedia presentation on this subject from Thomson/Reuters called Surviving the Tsunami. (25 photos total)

(Before) bodies of tsunami victims float in the water near the city port of Banda Aceh on December 29, 2004, and (after) a view of the same area, debris and bodies cleared, damaged buildings repaired, on December 3, 2009.

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Are America’s Mercenary Armies Really Drug Cartels?

Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 18:38 by John Sinteur in category: News


News out of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India reports massive corruption at the highest levels of government, corruption that could only be financed with drug money. In Afghanistan, the president’s brother is known to be one of the biggest drug runners in the world.

In Pakistan, President Zardani is found with 60 million in a Swiss Bank and his Interior Minister is suspected of ties to American groups involved in paramilitary operations, totally illegal that could involve nothing but drugs, there is no other possibility.

Testimony in the US that our government has used “rendition” flights to transport massive amounts of narcotics to Western Europe and the United States has been taken in sworn deposition.

American mercenaries in Pakistan are hundreds of miles away from areas believed to be hiding terrorists, involved in “operations” that can’t have anything whatsoever to do with any CIA contract. These mercenaries aren’t in Quetta, Waziristan or FATA supporting our troops, they are in Karachi and Islamabad playing with police and government officials and living the life of the fatted calf.

Drugs will never be decriminalized – it’s too profitable to keep things the way they are.

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  1. News? I thought that private bank in Australia that collapsed during the Regan Administration was known to be fueled by the CIA heroin trade money. How soon we forget.

David Deutsch: A new way to explain explanation

Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 18:15 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

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And you thought carbon offsets couldn’t get worse!

Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 15:18 by John Sinteur in category: News


It seems as though we hear about a new carbon offset schemes every week, and each one is less credible than the one before.

But competing designers of offset plans will have to work very hard to beat Optimum Population Trust (OPT), an English outfit that campaigns for population control in third world countries and for reduced immigration to the UK.  For sheer chutzpah, it will be hard to beat  PopOffsets.

You guessed it. Instead of actually reducing your carbon emissions, you can now pay OPT to persuade third world women not to have babies!

What’s more, it’s cheap. According to the website:

“Research is indicating that providing a currently unmet need for family planning is the lowest cost way of reducing CO2 emissions and climate change – possibly less than one third of the cost of other technological fixes – without any environmental downsides.”[1]

[1] In case you are wondering, the research turns out to be one paper by a grad student who was paid by OPT. Peer-reviewed? Not a chance.

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  1. I’m not saying I agree with the methods of this company, but I do agree that something should be done to reduce the third world population growth rate.

  2. Aah Mudak, it is sort of happening already. Wars, drought, famine, disease etc. just might be giving you your “wish”. But speaking of population (and the two biggies), you will have to work hard on India and China yourself because they don’t exactly fit into the third world definition.

  3. And if we think about the fact that seas and oceans generate 15 times as much CO2 than we do, it becomes more ridiculous.
    Concentrating on CO2 while neglected the real problems. Sad.

How to Save the World

Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 13:07 by John Sinteur in category: News


THE RECENT RESEARCH in social psychology offers a couple of central lessons. The first is a bit surprising: We intervene not because of stories of desperate circumstances but when we can be cheered up with positive stories of success and transformation. For example, one experiment found that people are quite willing to pay for a water-treatment facility to save 4,500 lives in a refugee camp with 11,000 people in it, but they are much less willing to pay for the same facility to save 4,500 lives when the refugee camp is said to have 250,000 inhabitants. In effect, what matters is saving a high proportion of people, not just a large number of lives. Paul Slovic, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon who has pioneered this field of research, notes that saving a large proportion of a group is very satisfying, while saving a small proportion seems like a failure—even if it’s a high number. All this fits in with a large body of research that suggests that people do good things in part because it feels good. The irony: Altruism creates its own selfish reward. Or, to put it another way, nobody gains more selfish pleasure than those who act selflessly.

Unfortunately, the most cost-effective aid interventions tend to be the kind that are incremental and save only a small proportion of lives—and are thus least satisfying to the giver.


Studies have suggested that iodizing salt brings real economic returns of nine times the cost—and yet we don’t do it. The reason is, I think, that the results are statistical, not visible. You can never look at a child afterwards and say, “This girl would have been retarded if it weren’t for iodized salt.” All you can do is note that retardation rates fall and that, a decade later, school performance improves significantly.

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  1. I think that’s why charities like Kiva and such are a success. You are not told to give 25 dollars to help one person or a family in Nicaragua, you are asked to lend 25 dollars to a Nicaraguan family.
    You don’t see a small percentage of the population, you see a definite and independent group.

    And another thing: you see a face and a name. Making it “personal” gives more motivation.
    Actually, I suspect that maybe when you help a large percentage of a group it gets more personal, as you don’t help say 300 people out of 500, you help “The Refugee Camp”, as opposed to when you help 30 out of 500. Then you don’t help anything definite.

Code That Protects Most Cellphone Calls Is Deciphered

Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 13:00 by John Sinteur in category: Privacy, Security, What were they thinking?


A German computer engineer said Monday that he had deciphered and published the secret code used to encrypt most of the world’s digital mobile phone calls, saying it was his attempt to expose weaknesses in the security of global wireless systems.

The action by the encryption expert, Karsten Nohl, aimed to question the effectiveness of the 21-year-old G.S.M. algorithm, a code developed in 1988 and still used to protect the privacy of 80 percent of mobile calls worldwide.


In a statement, the G.S.M. Association said efforts to crack the algorithm were more complex than critics have asserted, and that operators, by simply modifying the existing algorithm, could thwart any unintended surveillance.

The group said that hackers intent on illegal eavesdropping would need a radio receiver system and signal processing software to process raw radio data, much of which is copyrighted.

Yes, you read that correctly. They managed to keep a straight face while stating that a hacker would be willing to break numerous laws to listen in on an encrypted conversations but wouldn’t dare break copyright on the signal processing software.

several readers mailed me about the crack earlier. I didn’t bother to post it, because it isn’t news. Buying off-the-shelve intercept and decrypt equipment has been possible for years. And that’s the difficult way of doing things.

The most foolproof way of intercepting GSM is probably to just set up a base station (e.g. picocell or microcell) and then tap the IP or PSTN backhaul. It gets around the problem of encryption completely. I wouldn’t call this MITM, although some people do, because you’re not really in the “middle” of anything — you actually are providing call termination and acting as the cell tower.

Then there’s an active MITM attack, which takes advantage of the poorly-designed encryption fallback mechanism. It’s described in this paper (PDF). Basically you MITM between the victim handset and the network, and pretend (to the victim) that you’re an A5/2-only network, grab the key, and then (to the network) pretend to be a normal A5/1 handset. Supposedly it creates less than a 1s delay during initial call setup (and this was on 2004 hardware) and is transparent once it gets going, provided the phone isn’t set to display a warning when A5/2 is in use.
But GSM is horrible with keys. From the same paper, it clear that many networks initiate the authentication procedure rarely, and use the key created in the last authentication. An attacker can discover this key by impersonating the network to the victim mobile phone. Then the attacker initiates a radio-session with the victim, and asks the victim mobile phone to start encrypting using A5/2. The attacker performs the attack, recovers the key, and ends the radio session. The owner of the mobile phone and the network have no indication of the attack.

And all that is peanuts compared to the best way to decrypt your calls: the court order. Anybody who thinks his GSM conversations are secure is an idiot.

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Lieberman: The United States Must Pre-Emptively Act In Yemen

Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 12:31 by John Sinteur in category: News


Sen. Joseph Lieberman, (I-Conn) a renowned hawk and one of the foremost champions of the invasion of Iraq, warned on Sunday that the United States faced “danger” unless it pre-emptively acts to curb the rise of terrorism in Yemen.

“Somebody in our government said to me in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, Iraq was yesterday’s war. Afghanistan is today’s war. If we don’t act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war,” Lieberman said, during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday”. “That’s the danger we face.”

So to prevent it from becoming tomorrow’s war, we must make it today’s war?

And how, exactly, did the bombing of Yemen the US did on December 16th stop the crotch-bomber?

Somebody please hit Lieberman with a size 10 clue stick.

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Northwest Airlines Bomb Photos

Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 12:12 by John Sinteur in category: News


A singed pair of underwear with a packet of powder sewn into the crotch, seen in government photos obtained exclusively by ABC News, is all that remains of al Qaeda’s attempt to down an American passenger plane over Detroit.


It is a six-inch long packet of the high explosive chemical called PETN, less than a half cup in volume, weighing about 80 grams.

A government test with 50 grams of PETN blew a hole in the side of an airliner. That was the amount in the bomb carried by the so-called shoe bomber Richard Reid over Christmas 2001.

Would that have been enough to bring down the plane?

Not likely

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Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 11:55 by John Sinteur in category: Security

Schiphol airport handled 47,430,019 passengers in 2008.

So far, we’ve seen one terrorist attempt, and that attempt has prompted cries for installation of new scanners.

Let’s say these devices are 99.999% accurate for both false positives and false negatives. Usually the ratio for false positives is different from the one for false negatives, but either one will be worse than the five-nines I’m using here – no device maker I know claims such insanely accurate results, but let’s just do the calculations anyway, and remember that any result we get will be much better than real-life results.

It would mean 1 missed terrorist for every 10,000 real terrorists trying to pass through the checks. Now there aren’t 10,000 real terrorists in the world, so it’s a pretty meaningless number, but I guess it’s an acceptable miss-ratio.

It would also mean arresting about 4750 non-terrorists you mis-identify. That’s about 13 arrests a day, all year long. And that’s not acceptable.

This means that statistically the security at the airport is a bigger threat to your safety than any terrorist would be.

Feel safer yet?

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TSA Training Video

Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 11:34 by John Sinteur in category: News

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President Obama, It’s Time To Fire the TSA

Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 10:32 by John Sinteur in category: Security


So what has the TSA done in response to the attempted attack? They’ve told airlines to make passengers stay in their seats during the last hour of flight. They’ve made it verboten for passengers to hold anything in their laps, again only during the last hour of flight. Perhaps most hilariously telling, they’ve forbidden pilots from announcing when a plane is flying over certain cities and landmarks.

There is no other way to interpret it: The TSA is saying clearly that they can’t prevent terrorists from getting explosives on airplanes, but by god, they’ll make sure those planes explode only when the TSA says it’s okay.

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President Obama Speaks Out on Iran Violence

Posted on December 29th, 2009 at 9:36 by John Sinteur in category: News


Read the President’s latest remarks:

رئیس جمهوری در ارتباط با خشونت درایران سخن می گوید
سرکوب خشونت بار معترضان به وسیلۀ دولت ایران در پایان این هفته، بر اساس گزارشها، به چندین مورد مرگ و بازداشت صدها تن از تظاهر کنندگان، از جمله چندین نفر از چهره های سیاسی و فعالان حقوق بشر انجامیده است. اقدامات پیگیر سرکوبگرانه از جانب دولت بعد از انتخابات اختلاف انگیز ریاست جهوری ماه ژوئن، به انتقادات تند در سطح بین المللی دامن زده است. ایالات متحده همواره برای کسانی که درایران، و درسراسر جهان خوستار به کاربستن حقوق جهانی بشر خود هستند نقش گواه را ایفا می کند و در کنارشان ایستاده است.
به آخرین سخنان رئیس جمهوری در زیر رجوع کنید:
پیش از این که اینجا را ترک کنم من اجازه دهید به اختصار به رویدادهایی که ظرف چند روز گذشته در جمهوری اسلامی ایران رخ داده است نیز بپردازم. ایالات متحده برای محکوم ساختن هرچه شدید تر سرکوب خشونت آمیز و غیرعادلانۀ شهروندان بی گناه ایرانی که ظاهرا به موارد متعددی از بازداشتها و جراحات و حتی مرگ منجر شده است، به جامعۀ بین المللی می پیوندد.
طی چندین ماه مردم ایران خواستار چیزی بیشتر از برخوردرای از حقوق جهانی خود نبوده اند. هر بار که آنها چنین کرده اند، حتی در موقعیت های خطیر و روزهای مقدس، با مشت آهنین خشونت روبرو شده اند. و هر بار که این اتفاق افتاده، جهان با احساس عمیق ستایش برای شجاعت و عزم راسخ مردم ایران که بخشی از تمدن بزرگ و برجای ماندنی ایران اند، به نظاره نشسته است.
آنچه که در داخل ایران در حال روی دادن است با ایالات متحده یا هیچ کشور دیگری ارتباط ندارد – بلکه مربوط به مردم ایران و آرمانهای عدالتخواهی آنها و یک زندگی بهتر برای خودشان است. و تصمیم رهبران ایران برای حکومت از طریق توسل به ترس و ستمکاری، به از میان بردن آن آرمان ها توفیق نخواهد یافت. و همانگونه که من در اسلو اعلام داشتم، این روش هنگامی بروز می کند که دولتها از آرمانهای مردم خود بیش از قدرت هر کشور دیگری وحشت دارند.
ایالات متحده همراه با دیگر کشورهای آزاد در کنار کسانی که خواستار حقوق جهانی خود هستند ایستاده است. ما از دولت ایران می خواهیم تا الزامات بین المللی ای را که نسبت به رعایت حقوق مردم خود دارد محترم شمارد. ما آزادی بی درنگ کسانی را که به طرز غیرعادلانه ای در داخل ایران بازداشت شده اند خواستاریم. ما به نقش خود به عنوان گواه رویدادهای خارق العاده ای که در ایران در حال رخ دادن است ادامه می دهیم. و من اطمینان دارم که تاریخ در کنار جستجو کنندگان عدالت قرار خواهد داشت.

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  1. Wouldn’t it be better to include a translation of it? I found a Farsi to English translator online and it comes out like this…

    Begin Translation.

    President in connection with the violence in Iran speaks
    Violent repression of protesters at the end of the tool of the government this week, reportedly, several deaths and detention of hundreds of demonstrators, including several political figures and human rights activists has led. Sustained repressive measures from the government after the controversial presidential election between June Jhvry to harsh international criticism struck skirt Astt United States who always Qatar, and throughout the world Khvstar Apply your human rights are the witness is playing the role and stands Knarshan.

    The last president’s remarks, see below:
    Before I leave here let me briefly to events within the past few days in the Islamic Republic of Iran to pay occurred. The United States condemned Any building more severe and violent repression of innocent Iranian citizens غیرعادلانۀ apparently numerous arrests and injuries and even death has led to the international community joins

    During several months of people demanding more than the rights of its world Brkhvrdray are not. Each time such that they have, even in serious situations and holy days, been met with violence Andd Iron fist And every time this happened, the world felt deep praise for the courage and determination of people as part of a great civilization and Iran Brjay are viable, and is sitting watching.

    United States, other countries in the free world who demand their rights are stands. We want the government to the requirements of the international rights to its people respected Shmardd Our freedom away to those in the unfair inside Iran have been arrested Khvastarymyma his role as witness to the extraordinary events that are happening in Iran is to continue Dhymh And I’m sure that the date of the Search Visitors will be justice.

    End Translation

    I guess it loses something on the way…

  2. Or you could just click the [Quote:] and read the original English.

Northwest Flight Saved by Failed Detonator

Posted on December 28th, 2009 at 11:43 by John Sinteur in category: Security


Officials now say tragedy was only averted on Northwest flight 253 because a makeshift detonator failed to work properly.

Bomb experts say there was more than enough explosive to bring down the Northwest jet, which had nearly 300 people aboard, had the detonator not failed, and the nation’s outdated airport screening machines may need to be upgraded.

“We’ve known for a long time that this is possible,” said Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism czar and ABC News consultant,

I call bullshit. And the next sentence in the article explains why:

“and that we really have to replace our scanning devices with more modern systems.”

Clarke said full body scans were needed, “but they’re expensive and they’re intrusive. They invade people’s privacy.”

They’re just using this incident to push for new toys and more power to annoy travelers.

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  1. What do youmake of the fact that this guy boarded in A’dam where all US bound travelers go through interviews with security staff? If that doesn’t catch ’em, what will?

  2. As far as I know not all US bound travelers go through the interviews. That is, until two days ago…

  3. I’ve gone through interviews four out of four times in four years at Schiphol when fyling to the US.

370 Passwords You Shouldn’t (And Can’t) Use On Twitter

Posted on December 28th, 2009 at 9:03 by John Sinteur in category: News


If you’re on Twitter, that means you registered an account with a password that isn’t terribly easy to guess. As you may know, Twitter prevents people from doing just that by indicating that certain passwords such as ‘password’ (cough cough) and ‘123456′ are too obvious to be picked.

It just so happens that Twitter has hard-coded all banned passwords on the sign-up page. All you need to do to retrieve the full list of unwelcome passwords is take a look at the source code of that page.

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