Thursday, July 27, 2006

"Waiting to Get Blown Up"

"Waiting to Get Blown Up": It's a very sad story about the U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. One of them says their assignment is like they're just waiting to get blown up. Their work is primarily patrolling the streets, and the constant danger is a roadside bomb blowing them up.

The troops aren't doing what their training is for. The troops are an Army, they are trained to fight on a battlefield against another Army. What they're facing is an enemy who's intertwined with the local population, and the attack can come from anywhere at any time. Any individual might appear to be a normal person, then press a button and blow themselves up.

So sad. What a waste of good soldiers.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006



This is an online reprint of a 1982 book by the same title. It gives specific instructions to converting a gasoline engine to run on alchohol, and the instructions will work for E85 fuel that is becoming more widely available.


Zbig Brzezinski: Israel's Actions in Lebanon Essentially Amount to "the Killing of Hostages"

Zbig Brzezinski: Israel's Actions in Lebanon Essentially Amount to "the Killing of Hostages" is a partial transcript of a talk given by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski about the current mess. The most interesting part is this: Brzezinski stated: "I hate to say this but I will say it. I think what the Israelis are doing today for example in Lebanon is in effect, in effect -- maybe not in intent -- the killing of hostages. The killing of hostages. ... Because when you kill 300 people, 400 people, who have nothing to do with the provocations Hezbollah staged, but you do it in effect deliberately by being indifferent to the scale of collateral damage, you're killing hostages in the hope of intimidating those that you want to intimidate. And more likely than not you will not intimidate them. You'll simply outrage them and make them into permanent enemies with the number of such enemies increasing."

Yup, he's implying that Israel is perhaps taking actions they know will have collateral damage, and using the innocents being killed as a wedge to get the Hezbollah fighters to stop fighting. However I completely understand his contention that it's more likely to cause Hezbollah fighters to be outraged, to cause more people to join Hezbollah, just like has happened in Iraq where the U.S. led invasion has simply been the biggest recruiting vehicle for the other side. In both cases it leads people who might remain innocent bystanders to seek revenge or to seek to throw out an invading and occupying force.

I think the technical term for this is blowback, which is the unintended negative consequences of covert actions taken by a country's intelligence or military services.

For example, the September 11, 2001 attack was blowback for all the years of Western meddling in Middle East affairs, and more specifically for the presence of U.S. military in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait following the first Iraq war.

FOX News Deliberately Hides Fact That "Middle East Analyst" Is Apocalyptic Christian Preacher

FOX News Deliberately Hides Fact That "Middle East Analyst" Is Apocalyptic Christian Preacher: Was posted by the FOX News watchers at The project was launched by Robert Greenwald as part of the team that built the evidence presented in OUTFOXED.

The blog posting is about the appearance of author Michael D. Evans as a "Middle East Analyst" on the FOX & Friends hosted by Mike Jerrick. The problem is, Evans is also an evangelical preacher who specializes in "End Of Days Christianity". His world view is based on, we're in Armageddon, and the musty old writings in the Book of Revelations should be our guide post.

Yet, he was presented on the news program as a serious "Middle East Analyst". And this isn't the only time christian fundamentalists have been aired on FOX, presented as serious middle east analysts, without also disclosing their background in fundamentalism.

If you didn't already know it, FOX News is lying.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Winning a war about ideology means killing the ideology

The beginning of the end for Syria ..and.. Fight a democracy, kill the people .. discusses the current Lebanon/Hezbollah/Israel war. That war is part of the broader conflict in the Middle East, and is very likely going to merge with the broader conflict to make the war cover the whole of the Middle East.

There's a very interesting point to ponder: Conventional armies can defeat guerrilla forces with broad popular support, for it is perfectly feasible to dismantle a people, destroy its morale, and if need be expel them. It has happened in history on occasions beyond count. The British did it to the Scots Highlanders after the 1745 rising, and to the Acadians of Canada after the Seven Years' War; Ataturk did it to the Greeks of Asia Minor in 1922; and the Czechs did it to the Sudeten Germans after 1945. It seems to be happening again, as half or more of Lebanon's 1.2 million Shi'ites flee their homes. To de-fang Hezbollah implies the effective dissolution of the Shi'ite community, a third of whom live within Katyusha range of Israel.

I remember reading how President Roosevelt had strategized about how to end World War II. They had an offer of surrender early on, but his strategy was to thoroughly demoralize the German People so that they would not later rise up to be a threat.

In the case of Hezbollah we have a million people in southern Lebanon who thoroughly believe in their leader. They hold a set of beliefs that are incompatible with the beliefs held by Israel. So the idea is, winning this war means killing the ideology. But ideologies tend to live on and on and on. Ideologies are carried by people in their beliefs.

Hmm... So, they're waging war because of a disagreement over beliefs?

Maybe it's that the fundamentalist mindset can only see their fundamentals as being the correct ones?

What that means is ... the U.S. is currently in the grip of Christain fundamentalism. The Middle East is seeing a rise in Islamic Fundamentalism, with whole countries like Iran and pre-invasion-Afghanistan being in the grip of Islamic Fundamentalist Law. The war can be seen as a battle between Christain and Islamic fundamentalists. They both seem to share a belief that society is corrupt and the way to decorruptize society is to return to the religious teachings. But where they differ is on the content of those teachings, the beliefs taught by those teachings.

Sigh, why can't those teachings live side by side? Don't they both teach to love thy neighbor? But, unfortunately, when you combine fundamentalist religion with political power, they tend to make the fundamentals of their religion into law. We're seeing that in the U.S. with various faith based laws being enacted or proposed, and in the Middle East it's gone even further where the countries have adopted Shariah Law in whole.

But I think trying to kill an ideology by killing the people who hold that ideology is a fools journey. It's interesting that the article mentioned the Scottish uprising and what the English did to the Scottish. I was just in Scotland, and they are a very proud people, very proud of their difference from the British, very proud of the times they successfully fought off the British, very sad over the Land Clearances that bordered on what we now call "Ethnic Cleansing", and they recently reestablished their own Parliament. What I take from that is you might be able to suppress a people and their ideology for a generation or so, but they'll eventually find their power again and rise up against you over the grievances done upon their ancestors.

We saw that with the Kosovo conflict a few years ago. That conflict was based on a battle fought several hundred years ago, which was still simmering beneath the surface of the people living in that area.

I think it's better for us to seek ways to live together in harmony, and celebrate our differences. But that would mean having laws that allow each of us to be different from the other. Laws that give equal weight to us all despite our creed.

For example ... laws that allow homosexuals to marry. That particular issue I chose because the Christain fundamentalists in the U.S. are currently making a lot of noise about this issue. What's at issue is a conflict of ideas between what is the right or wrong way to live. The Christain fundamentalists in the U.S. see homosexual marraige as completely offensive, claiming that God said that was a sin. But, think, didn't Jesus teach to love everybody, to love thy neighbor as thyself? Doesn't that apply to homosexuals just as everybody else? How can these fundamentalists get away with their fire and brimstone, where they condemn certain kinds of people to hell and damnation? Is it loving thy neighbor to do so? Yet, that's what they're doing in the name of God under the banner of their religion.

I see that the Christian teachings, to love thy neighbor as thyself, etc, would be very compatible with, for example, allowing homosexuals to marry, and in general to living in harmony with your neighbor who believes differently from yourself.

Monday, July 24, 2006

City of Bloomington, Indiana, adopts Peak Oil Resolution

City of Bloomington, Indiana, adopts Peak Oil Resolution: On July 19, the Bloomington, Indiana City Council passed a resolution acknowledging That the global peak of petroleum production is “an unprecedented challenge” for society, and recognizes that the city must prepare for its inevitability. Bloomington is the 7th largest city in Indiana, home to Indiana University, and has a population of 70,000 residents plus a 40,000 student population. The resolution supports a global depletion protocol, such as the one drafted by Colin Campbell and Richard Heinberg. ... read more at the link above

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Those who live by revenge, die by revenge

U. S. Expediting Delivery of Bunker Busters to Israel - Israeli Tanks Cross Southern Border: Discusses the current fighting between Israel and Gaza and Lebanon. The current fighting is justified, Israel says, due to kidnappings of Israeli soldiers. First it was one soldier kidnapped by Palestinians in Gaza, and a couple weeks later it was two soldiers kidnapped by Hezbolla in Lebanon.

So, it's simple, eh? If someone attacks you, you defend yourself. Right? If someone kidnaps your soldiers, you hit back at them. Right?

Weeeelll..... It's worth considering "why" those kidnappings were performed in the first place.

The article says: Contrary to what you will hear in American media, Cpl. Shalit was abducted in retaliation for the June 9th shelling deaths of 9 Palestinians on a beach in Gaza and the June 24th abduction of a Palestinian doctor and his brother. And, similarly, the kidnapping by Hezbollah was in retribution for different prior acts done by Israel.

What we have here is a cycle of violence. It is the "eye for an eye" type of justice, except in Israel's practice it could be called "village for an eye". Regardless of the size of the response, this just makes me think of a saying by, I think, Ghandi: An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind

This instance is a perfect example. Israel is retributing for acts by the Palestinians and Hezbollah. But those acts were in retribution for an Israeli act. But the Israeli act was in retribution for some prior act. That prior act was in retribution for some other Israeli act. etc... Are you lost yet?

This cycle is a non-ending series of each side saying "you dirty bastard, I'll get you for that".

From the viewpoint of each side it is the other who is the villian, and their acts are justified. It's well known what the Israeli point of view is, because it's the Israeli point of view that gets wide press coverage. The Israeli's are asserting a right to have their own country, and to run that country in the way they deem fit. Because they have their own country they have the right to defend their borders and secure the safety of their people.

All of that makes a lot of sense. Any nation tries to carry out those ideas, to delineate their national border, to establish laws that make sense for their people, to carry out relations with their neighbors that lead to peace and coexistance, to defend the people in case of aggression, etc.

But if you shift your viewpoint to the Palestinians, isn't that the agony they're going through? Their country was taken from them, which has left them with a 60 year long battle to defend their people in case of aggression, to have their own country, etc. From their viewpoint it is the Israeli's who are the villian, and it is their acts which are justified by national duty.

One result of the "you dirty bastard, I'll get you for that" is that the "winner" is the last one standing. But, is there a winner? The last one who is standing is still standing because they were able to summon up the strength to fight and kill and maim and destroy the lives of others. It's well known that war changes people, that the act of fighting and killing others tends to cause extreme psychological trauma to the soldiers. The old name for that trauma was "shell shock" and today they call it "Post traumatic stress disorder". Whatever the name, the cost for being the last one standing, for "winning" the battle, is that the soldiers are less capable of taking up normal life.

Another possible result of "you dirty bastard, I'll get you for that" is learning forgiveness. Instead of holding on to the need for revenge, you let go of it. An interesting example of this is the path of the Tibetans. They, too, were kicked out of their country by the Chinese. The Chinese entered their country and began destroying their monasteries, their writings, their political and religious structures, etc. In short the Chinese acted strongly to destroy the Tibetan culture.

But, the Tibetans are Buddhists, and the political leader of Tibet was the Dalai Lama, also the spiritual leader of Tibet. Rather than reach for revenge, the actions of the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders has been to practice Buddhism. Buddhism teaches that the need for revenge is one form of attachment. Buddhism teaches that when you see another as a villian, that you are projecting some villian-hood from inside yourself onto that other person. Ultimately Buddhism teaches that when you attack another, even if that attack is for revenge, that you are really attacking yourself.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Israel's campaign against Lebanon may constitute war crimes, by Israel, and may violate US law

There is a conflict happening between Israel and Lebanon right now. It's an extension of 50 years, or more, of previous conflict and is in the context of the larger Middle East conflict which has been with us for decades. (Also see this previous blog entry)

I want to outline several articles that have come up in my news scans. These articles provide a non-mainstream view of the conflict, one that Fox News is unlikely to air.

Attacks Qualify as War Crimes, Officials Say: This was published in the NY Times, and republished on The contention is that because Israel is making attacks that are killing civilians, that perhaps they are targeting cibilians, and to do so is illegal conduct under International law concerning the conduct of war. For example one source in the article is quoted saying:

“International humanitarian law is clear on the supreme obligations to protect civilians during hostilities" ... “Indiscriminate shelling of cities constitutes a foreseeable and unacceptable targeting of civilians," ... “Similarly, the bombardment of sites with alleged innocent civilians is unjustifiable.”

Additionally: The Swiss-based International Red Cross, the recognized guardian of the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war, said Wednesday that Israel had violated the principle of proportionality provided for in the Conventions and their protocols.

Thousands Flock to Hills, Parks and Schools, But No Place Safe from Bombs: Provides some "color" in terms of what life is like in Lebanon under Israel's attacks.

Civilian Toll Raises Questions: Discusses how intertwined is Hezbollahs infrastructure with the civilian society around them. It is claimed it would be very difficult for Israel to effectively attack and destroy Hezbollah without inflicting collateral damage.

"The reality is, we're fighting an organization that stores the missiles it launches against us in people's homes," ... "They do it on purpose."

"This is Going to Be A Big War": A discussion by a longtime Iraq War analyst who claims this war with Lebanon is going to escalate even further. Similarly the other day I saw an article based on a speech by Newt Gingrich where he said we are now in World War III.

A Handful of Neocons Are Instigating a Wider War: Points a finger at the Neo-Conservatives for instigating an escalation of the war. This follows along with their plan from the mid-90's to use the U.S. position as being the "world's sole superpower" to throw our weight around and reshape the world into a kind of Pax Americana where the U.S. calls all the shots, and the world will enter a golden age of peace and harmony led by the U.S. Or some kind of bullcrap like that. I think it's sheer megalomania.

In US, Not All Casualties Are Equal ..and.. Remarks by Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, on the situation in the Middle East, at the Security Council Stakeout, July 17, 2006: There is a curious logic going on which we've seen before. In Israel's attacks on Lebanon, the number of deaths is highly skewed where there are approximately 300 deaths in Lebanon to approximately 30 deaths in Israel. The same kind of ratio holds with the U.S. invasion of Iraq, where tens of thousands of Iraqi's have died compared to nearly 3000 U.S. soldiers.

John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., has a curious statement to this effect:

Reporter: Over the weekend, a Canadian family was killed on vacation in southern Lebanon by the Israeli air campaign. I’m wondering how concerned you are about the civilian deaths? Ambassador Bolton: Well, it is a matter of great concern to us, to the President in particular, that these civilian deaths are occurring and it’s a tragedy. There’s simply no other way to describe it. But I think it would be a mistake to ascribe a moral equivalence to civilians who die as the direct result of malicious terrorist acts, the very purpose of which terrorist acts are to kill civilians, and the tragic and unfortunate consequence of civilian deaths as a result of military action taken in self-defense. Our moral and legal systems make all the difference in the world between acts based on what their intention is and it’s simply not the same thing to say that it’s the same act to deliberately target innocent civilians, to desire their death, to fire rockets and use explosive devices and examples like kidnapping versus the sad and highly unfortunate consequences of self-defense. But there’s no doubt that all of these civilian deaths are tragic and that’s why if Hezbollah would release the two soldiers it’s kidnapped, then I think we’d have a quick way to get back to a peaceful situation.

To the people who died, do you think they care whether it was a tragic and unfortunate consequence, or whether it was a terrorist act? They died either way. And, as noted above, there is the question of whether Israel is purposely targeting civilians.

The U.S. and Israeli authorities probably feel they have to deny any purposeful targeting of civilians. Since it is a violation of International war conventions to do so, if they want to avoid being brought to trial for war crimes violations they have to spin their actions their way, and hope nobody catches on.

Here's the breakdown: More than 250 Lebanese, most of them civilians, including women and children ... To date, 25 Israelis have been killed, half of them uniformed soldiers in combat with Hezbollah fighters.

Now, if we look at what Bolton said, he claims it is Hezbollah who is deliberately targeting civilians. But if that's what Hezbollah is doing, then why are the casualties from their actions heavily skewed to the military? Why are the casualties due to Israeli actions heavily skewed to civilians? Just who is targeting civilians?

On the other hand Hezbollah has been hiding their weapons in peoples homes, and all their infrastructure is located among the civilian population. What's Israel to do?

The final question I want to raise is the issue that Israel's attacks in Lebanon violates U.S. law.

Their attacks are being carried out using weapons provided by the U.S. Under U.S., weapons sold to another country can only be used for defensive purposes. Israel is claiming this is self defense, but at the same time their form of self defense is to invade and occupy Lebanon. Are they waging an act of aggression, or are they committing self defense?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

History of the Lebanese-Israeli conflict

History of the Lebanese-Israeli conflict: Is a timeline of conflict between Lebanon and Israel. One factoid is that Lebanon and Israel never signed any peace accord, and technically the two countries have been in a state of war since 1948. In 1948 the whole of the Arab world ganged up on the newly formed Israel.

Another is that, in 2000 when Israel pulled out of occupying Southern Lebanon, they warned they would return to Southern Lebanon if their security were threatened again.

Israel says it doesn't plan to occupy Lebanon: Says they plan to stop short of a ground invasion of Lebanon.

Tel Aviv plans 4-tier, intensifying offensive: Quotes unnamed senior officials in Israel saying there is a four-step plan that ends with Israel staging a ground invasion and occupying, again, a buffer zone in southern Lebanon.

The Taliban Strikes Back

Taliban capture two Afghanistan towns: Hey, waitaminnit, didn't we declare Mission Accomplished? Wasn't the Taliban thoroughly stomped upon?

What's going on? Can anybody explain this?

Well, okay, enough with rhetorical questions. Basically the war in Afghanistan was an underfunded crock. Despite Afghanistan being the location of the cuplrits of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the major war focus was not on Afghanistan but on Iraq. Iraq had nothing to do with that attack, yet the major focus was on creating a war in Iraq.

And.. now... we see Pakistani's helping the Taliban to reestablish itself. Wait, isn't Pakistan the Friend of the United States? Well, these Pakistani's are of the border tribal areas, as are the Taliban themselves. I get the impression that along the Pakistan and Afghanistan border is a tribal area that isn't fully integrated with either country, and possibly is its own culture separate from both Pakistani and Afghan cultures.

Scores of Taliban militants chased police out of two southern Helmand districts near the border with Pakistan.

... Afghan officials have said scores of Taliban fighters, many crossing into Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan, fought Garmser's small contingent of policemen -- holed up in a concrete compound -- for 16 days before the police withdrew.

While Taliban militants have long operated freely in former southern stronghold provinces, their capture of two towns highlights the weakness of Afghanistan's police forces in remote areas, and the challenge ahead faced by international forces to restore order in the country.

"The Taliban have reconstituted and dispersed, but this is certainly not about the Taliban being strong. The reality is that the government has not yet extended to the far-reaching areas of the country," Collins said.

Col. Collins is proving himself to be a master of spin.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Office of Surveillance Commissioners


The OSC's aim is to provide effective and efficient oversight of the conduct of covert surveillance and covert human intelligence sources by public authorities in Britain. In other words, they are endeavoring to run operations similar to Big Brother.

Car license plate cameras may be illegal

Number plate cameras may be illegal and Police number plate cameras may breach RIPA ... this covers a program in Britain where cameras are ubiquitously installed "everywhere" through which the police can read car license plates and record them into computers. Through collecting this data, the computers can track movement of every car on a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, basis.

It seems that Sir Andrew Leggatt, Chief Surveillance Commissioner, is concerned that the program violates human rights law. Specifically Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, or RIPA.

It seems the program basically treats everybody in Britain as a suspect. Their movements by car can be tracked in the computer database, and later used against them in a court of law. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

What is Sir Andrew Leggatt's preferred solution? Well, it's to amend the law to allow the program to collect the data it is collecting, and also to ensure the data can be introduced into court as evidence.

Hmmm.. This sounds vaguely similar to the ubiquitous spying being conducted in the U.S. where it's been shown to be illegal, but the government is suggesting to change the law so that the program becomes legal. But, what of the desires of the people? Do the people really want to be spied upon all day long every day?

BTW, the Office of Surveillance Commissioners looks to be an errily Big Brother sort of institution.

HP reveals tiny, tiny wireless chip

HP reveals tiny, tiny wireless chip discusses a new chip designed by Hewlett-Packard engineers. The article has one important feature, a visual demonstration of the tiny size of the chip. It is a device between 2mm and 4mm square, which can hold between 256kb and 4mb of memory, plus an antenna, plus wireless communications capability of transmitting 10mb/second. The visual demonstration shows it circled by pencils, demonstrating the chip is slightly larger than the size of a pencil tip.

That's tiny.

And, to think, the 4mb of memory is just the beginning. With further development it no doubt can hold far more memory.

The HP Newsroom has more information in the press release.

Power comes from inductive coupling with the read write device. It doesn't have any CPU of its own, it is merely a memory storage device. In use it will be similar to the RFID chips, but the memory size makes them very different animals. The standard RFID chip merely stores a 128=bit number, letting it serve as a digitally readable barcode. In fact, that's all Walmart wants of the RFID chips, digitally readable barcodes.

HP sees further uses, so let's examine what they claim in their press release.

Some of the potential applications include storing medical records on a hospital patient’s wristband; providing audio-visual supplements to postcards and photos; helping fight counterfeiting in the pharmaceutical industry; adding security to identity cards and passports; and supplying additional information for printed documents.

Medical records...? Hurm, I suspect there's a lot more data in typical medical records than 4mb. A typical x-ray is gonna be many megapixels of data, for example. Plus, it isn't described how the data is updated into the chip. As the patient goes through the rigors of being in the hospital, doesn't that add data to their records? Shouldn't those records in the wristband be updated?

I would think the normal RFID chip would be perfectly adequate for medical records access in a wristband. One would embed an RFID chip into the wristband, then a reader can access the number and use that as a key to bring up records on a computer screen. Since the network can store far more data than 4mb, this makes the accessible medical records far more comprehensive.

Audio-visual supplements ...? now here's something that's rather interesting. Later in the press release they discuss these ideas:

  • Audio photo: Attach a chip to the prints of photographs and add music, commentary or ambient sound to enhance the enjoyment of viewing photos.
  • Digital postcards: Send a traditional holiday postcard to family and friends with a chip containing digital pictures of a vacation, plus sounds and even video clips.

One can imagine a printer that automatically downloads data into one of these chips and automatically glues the chip onto the paper as it is being printed. e.g. an MP3 file could be transferred into the chip. Then HP could sell a gizmo that reads the chip data, like a digital picture frame, playing back the MP3 sound.

Sounds like a natural for HP and how they've basically become a printer company.

Document notes...? Perfect photocopies...?: The press release offers these two explanations:

  • Document notes: A Memory Spot chip attached to a paper document can include a history of all the corrections and additions made to the text, as well as voice notes and graphical images.
  • Perfect photocopies: A Memory Spot chip attached to a cover sheet eliminates the need to copy the original document. Just read the perfect digital version into the photocopier and the result will be sharp output every time, no matter how many copies are needed, and avoiding any possibility of the originals jamming in the feeder.

Again this implies an easy capability to record data into one of these chips and easily glue the chip to paper as the paper passes through a printer.

It does sound useful to have the paper be digitally readable and useful to a photocopier. As they suggest, sometimes photocopiers jam and it's frustrating. One can imagine a printer (again, HP has become a printer company) that lets you copy documents without having to have a scanner in the printer. Instead it would have a memory spot reader, and read the data off the paper printing whatever it read. Sounds cool.

But, what about photocopying of ad-hoc documents? Suppose you're at lunch with colleagues and scribble some brilliant ideas on a napkin or similar piece of scratch paper? A photocopier that can only read these chips would be unable to copy that brilliant idea. You need some kind of scanner to do that.

And, this document notes idea ... if you scribble on paper with a pen, how is the document notes chip supposed to know what you've scribbled on it? Or is the idea that the chip will hold editable document data, and then you re-record new data onto the chip? It's rather confusing here.

Counterfeited pharmaceuticals...? I guess they were thinking supplements and went for a different kind of supplement. Uhm, I don't follow them on this one.

In the press release they did suggest: Counterfeit drugs are a significant problem globally. Memory Spot chips can contain secure information about the manufacture and quality of pharmaceuticals. When added to a drug container, this can prove their authenticity. A similar process could be used to verify high-value engineering and aviation components.

But, like the medical records, I don't see how the memory spot chip is an advantage over a regular RFID chip. If data can be recorded onto these chips with the ease required to sell a consumer printer that automatically records data into a chip and glues it onto paper, then doesn't it seem that this isn't a very strong counterfeiting deterrent? Wouldn't it be trivial to record any data you want into one of these chips?

Security passes...? Same story ... They claim: Add a chip to an identity card or security pass for the best of both worlds --- a handy card with secure, relevant digital information included. Just how easy will it be to produce one of these chips with any data you want on it? Hence, how easy would it be to produce a forged security pass?

I should note in passing that Sun Microsystems, the company I work for, sells the Java Card concept. Our employee badges are Java Cards. It is a simple RFID system, and you hold the employee badge up to a reader, the reader communicates with a computer system, checks your RFID number, and uses that to determine whether to open the door or not. Each door has individualized access control so that the company security can be controlled down to individual rooms.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

"Root Cause" of the violence in the Middle East

As of today it appears the world is on the brink of a new World War. In fact, that's what former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich said recently in a speach. That we are in World War III, and that Bush needs to have the guts to say so.

There is a rising tide of bloodshed between Israel, Hammas, Hezbollah, etc. Lebanon is being caught in the cross-fire and allegations are being leveled against both Syria and Iran. There is, coincidentally, a meeting of the G8 Summit happening at the same time, and the leaders there are "very concerned". GW Bush made a statement in which he repeatedly discussed the root cause and the need to address the root cause. That's a great idea, since it is often the root cause which, if addressed, will resolve problems. However his root cause analysis goes only to the fact that Hezbollah is shooting missiles at Israel, and further Hezbollah's relationship with Syria and Iran.

Labeling that as the root cause seems, to me, to completely miss the point entirely. There's a huge context within which this action is occuring. It did not start with Hezbollah kidnapping some Israeli soldiers. That act of kidnapping occurred within the context of the ongoing tension and struggle, and it is that which is the root cause.

So in this posting I want to outline some of the context.

We have a completely dreadful situation in Iraq. The U.S. and Britain are the hated occupiers, rather than the beloved liberators, following on the heels of an illegal invasion of Iraq in March 2003, following on 13 years of isolating Iraq, following on the first Gulf War with Iraq, etc. As the hated occupiers, the bloodshed on all sides in Iraq is intense, with fighting between factions to gain power, as well as resistance fighting against the occupiers.

There is an ongoing light war in Afghanistan yet the Taliban, whom we supposedly kicked down, is having a surge of influence there. Associated with the war in Afghanistan is various movements of power in the Central Asian region that seem to be aimed at controlling the oil and mineral reserves there. This is the Former Soviet Union territory, and the U.S. desparately wants to have strong influence in that region.

There is the looming threat of attack against either Syria and/or Iran. The Neocon group Plan For a New American Century had published plans, in the mid 1990's, about the need to topple several hardline regimes in the Middle East and put moderate democracies in their place. Hurm, how can you install democracy at gunpoint?? Anyway, their plan was to first topple the Iraqi government, and then move on to either Syria or Iran. Fortuitously Iran has been caught harboring a secret nuclear program that appears to be aimed at building nuclear weapons, and there has been several years of bickering over what to do about this. Whether to "allow" Iran to proceed. At the same time there has been repeated allegations slanted towards Syria related to harboring terrorists etc.

And Iran isn't the only rogue nuclear state, as North Korea is in on the game as well. They are in defiance of the International Community, pursuing nuclear weapons and missile technology. There are on-and-off negotiations but who knows how serious anybody is about those talks.

Getting back to the current tussle with Israel and it's neighbors.

Israel authorizes 'severe' response to abductions (Wednesday, July 12, 2006; Posted: 10:27 p.m. EDT): This is the first mention on CNN's web site of the Hezbollah kidnap of two Israeli soldiers. The immediate Israeli response to this?

Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, head of Israel's Northern Command, called it an act of war. "This affair is between Israel and the state of Lebanon," Adam said. "Where to attack? Once it is inside Lebanon, everything is legitimate -- not just southern Lebanon, not just the line of Hezbollah posts."

Israel's chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, said "If the soldiers are not returned, we will turn Lebanon's clock back 20 years."

Not exactly the friendliest of responses, eh? The kidnappers asked to negotiate for a prisoner exchange, but this was refused by Israel who said a prisoner exchange would just encourage more kidnapping. Further, they are claiming that Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government, and that this was the act of one sovereign nation against another.

Since this act there has been escallating attacks back and forth between Israel, Hezoballah and Lebanon. Israel is hitting dozens of targets within Lebanon, all the way to Beirut. Their Navy is blockading port cities in Lebanon. One goal is to cut off travel between Lebanon and other countries, as there is a fear the kidnapped soldiers will be taken outside Lebanon.

Even that wasn't exactly the beginning. As I said earlier, this happened within an existing context.

Immediately prior to Hezbollah's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, a group in Gaza kidnapped one Israeli soldier.

Palestinians anxious as Israel strikes (Thursday, June 29, 2006; Posted: 1:01 a.m. EDT): This is the first mention I found on CNN's web site. It outlines the beginning of extremely hardline reaction to the kidnapping of one soldier. Hamas demanded a prisoner swap, and Israel refused. Hmmm..

I see in the news since then, Israel has made severe incursions into Gaza ... Airstrikes and artillery pound Gaza (Thursday, June 29, 2006; Posted: 9:47 p.m. EDT) ... Palestinian militants demand release of prisoners (Friday, June 30, 2006; Posted: 8:29 p.m. EDT) ... Israel hits Palestinian prime minister's office (Saturday, July 1, 2006; Posted: 10:09 p.m. EDT) ... etc ...

Basically, the way I see it, Israel's actions are only increasing tensions around the Middle East. But those tensions were already heightened by U.S. and British actions in Iraq, and those tensions were pre-existing given all the struggle going on in regard to the Middle East over the recent decades.

In the current moment, with Israel attacking large parts of Lebanon, it is easy to see this spilling over. Israel is making broad allegations against Syria and Iran, and may well use those allegations as an excuse to attack one or the other. For example they may take it upon themselves to destroy the nuclear program in Iran, as they did against the Iraqi program in the 1980's.

Even further, I suspect that Israel is seeing an opportunity to further an agenda they are harboring. Namely, the destruction of Hamas and/or Hezbollah.

Israel could have launched surgical attacks using commandos to locate the kidnapped soldiers and rescue them. They've done this before. However, they aren't. Instead they are launching widespread airstrikes and other attacks. Why?

The REAL Reason Israel Is Going Full-Frontal on Hezbollah - NOW: Russel Shaw is suggesting the same theory I just outlined. That Israel wants to use the opportunity of this moment to launch a broader attack.

I believe that Israel views this as the optimal time in history to strike back full-force at Hezbollah and their ultimate ally, Iran.

Pray, pray, pray, pray.

Pray, pray, pray, pray.

Pray, pray, pray, pray.

Pray, pray, pray, pray.

Pray, pray, pray, pray.

Pray, pray, pray, pray.

Pray, pray, pray, pray.

Pray, pray, pray, pray.

Pray, pray, pray, pray.

Pray, pray, pray, pray.

Pray, pray, pray, pray.

Pray, pray, pray, pray.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

State of the Union, 2006


Someone edited the State of the Union speech given in 2006, to only play the scare-filled words. Now, in a speech with so many fearmongering words, what was the intent of them who gave that speech? Hmmm?

Halliburton's no-bid contracts came to an end


Halliburton for years had no-bid contract access to providing services to the U.S. Military. How could such obvious corruption have gone on for so long? Well, it did come to an end, and the whistleblower responsible has a chance to explain herself.

Worlds largest Nuke Explosion


This is an excerpt of a Discovery Channel documentary discussing a test of a huge Russian nuclear weapon. It's explained that since they never developed accurate missile technology, they went for huge bombs. The bomb in question would directly obliterate a 30 mile circle, with a fireball causing a firestorm for a 100 mile diameter.


Friday, July 14, 2006

U.S. Government to start sending emergency alerts to cell phones

Is the new mantra reach out and frighten someone?

Wireless devices to get emergency alerts: Discusses plans cooked up during the "Cold War" but never used. These plans are that cell phones will become a device to which the government can send warnings of national emergencies.

It does sound useful, doesn't it? If there's an emergency, the government needs to send out instructions. For example where shelters are, escape routes from hurricanes, etc. It would be like the emergency broadcast system on the radio, but more ubiquitous. It's known that people carry their cell phone with them all the time, basically as often as they carry their keys. A warning system that reaches cell phones should be more effective than other kinds of warnings.

But the current administration has a history of sending out frightening messages that have little real content. It seems the current administration wants to frighten the populace rather than inform us.