NSA & UFOs; Mexican army captures marijuana; UK builds road pan-opticon; British tab says Bush wanted to bomb Al Jazeera
Happy turkey days to all. I have been hiding out as a sudden cold has hit me - but its already getting better. Video games and Orange Juice can cure most anything, especially deep in November.
Strange days though. I find myself less concerned than usual about tracking the war. Plus Israel would appear to be shifting to the left, as Sharon looks to ditch the Crazy Right of Likud. That's really good, I think. But let's put aside those nasty situations and consider what Fark tells us about the world.
William Shatner wants to sell a kidney stone on eBay (bottom of page). Same page: Scotty's ashes will not get shot into space on schedule. Now scheduled for January. It seems like they went thru the transporter a few times too many...
Fox News reviews the upcoming Clooney Middle East flick Syriana very positively. Also calls it a good companion piece to Three Kings, one of my favorite movies. And it's based on a book by former CIA dude Robert Baer. Hmmm... ok I'm interested. Also the guy who did Traffic is involved.
The basic story is that an oil company has set up shop in the Gulf, just as a merger is going through. The local royal Arab family is in the middle of a succession as the Emir (king) is about to step aside for one of his two sons: an idiot, and a sensitive, forward thinker. Guess who gets the job?
Clooney plays a CIA agent who’s a little over the hill and washed up. But he’s onto the fact that the government and the oil companies are trying to stay in control through the manipulation of who becomes king.
Most profitable East Bank poetry ever: Bob Dylan poems written at the University of Minnesota in 1959-60 fetch $78,000. And today it's the Loring Pasta Bar...
NSA and UFOs: The National Security Agency gave out some information about UFOs -- not much information. Surprisingly, the secretive intelligence agency pointed out that since so much of their reports about 'unidentified' phenomena came from spying on foreign communications systems, they couldn't share most of it! Really, that's pretty funny. A 'Top secret UMBRA' file is declassified here (PDF). (more sweet NSA documents from FAS - check out Secrecy News and the CRS reports)
Is the earth in a space-time vortex? NASA's on the job.
News from the Co-Prosperity Sphere: Japan to have a 'military' again for first time since WWII. Survey shows money can help buy happiness.
Stephen Hawking is tough as hell. Before a lecture, when he was taken off a respirator, he nearly died, but they resuscitated him. Hawking went on to give the lecture via Internet teleconferencing.
What did he think of "The Simpsons" TV show, which has had Hawking as an animated guest star? "It's the best thing on American TV." What did he think of the program to send American astronauts back to the moon? "Stupid," he answered. "Sending politicians would be much cheaper, because you don't have to bring them back."
Mexican border squads (drug militia?) handle their marijuana with aplomb. El Paso Times:
Pot-laden truck creates armed standoff
A marijuana-laden dump truck got stuck in the Rio Grande on Thursday evening in Hudspeth County, leading to a standoff between U.S. law enforcement and what appeared to be the Mexican military, sheriff officials said.
.....Doyal said the truck driver returned with the armed men, including men who arrived in official-looking vehicles with overhead lights and what appeared to be Mexican soldiers in uniform and with military-style rifles.
Nothing quite like that British All-Seeing Eye. Now they are going to TRACK ALL VEHICLES IN BRITAIN. Oh what will they think of next? Plus it all got snuck through Parliament, of course...
Gatso 2: rollout of UK's '24x7 vehicle movement database' begins
A "24x7 national vehicle movement database" that logs everything on the UK's roads and retains the data for at least two years is now being built, according to an Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) strategy document leaked to the Sunday Times. The system, which will use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), and will be overseen from a control centre in Hendon, London, is a sort of 'Gatso 2' network, extending. enhancing and linking existing CCTV, ANPR and speedcam systems and databases.
Which possibly explains why the sorcerer's apprentices in ACPO's tech section don't seem to have needed any kind of Parliamentary approval to begin the deployment of what promises to be one the most pervasive surveillance systems on earth.
The control centre is intended to go live in April of next year, and is intended to be processing 50 million number plates a day by year end. ACPO national ANPR co-ordinator John Dean told the Sunday Times that fixed ANPR cameras already exist "at strategic points" on every motorway in the UK, and that the intention was to have "good nationwide coverage within the next 12 months." According to ACPO roads policing head Meredydd Hughes, ANPR systems are planned every 400 yards along motorways, and a trial on the M42 near Birmingham will first be used to enforce variable speed limits, then to 'tackle more serious crime.'
However, in Britain a 1689 law helped get a man out of a parking ticket. This memorable quote:
A spokeswoman for the National Parking Adjudication Service said no previous challenge to parking fines using the Bill of Rights had been successful.
Good luck with your cameras!! They still love drinking. BBC reported that
Looking back only 700 years, London had over 1,300 alehouses - one for every 50 people living in the city.
Machines and objects to overtake humans on the Internet:
The ITU's vision goes further, highlighting refrigerators that independently communicate with grocery stores, washing machines that communicate with clothing, implanted tags with medical equipment and vehicles with stationary or moving objects.
Industrial products would also become increasingly "smart", gaining autonomy and the intelligence thanks to miniaturised but more powerful computing capacity.
"Even particles and 'dust' might be tagged and networked", the ITU said. "
NBC chief says that they pay too much attention to blogs over there, but pushing video over the Internet has improved ratings. What?
Superspreaders of disease are primarily responsible for mass epidemics, new study says. "A lot of people don't infect anyone".
Too much CO2? Stash it underground, says a guy from BP. Weird. An Austrian city is building giant mirrors to get light over a huge hill between November and February. Sweet!!
Bomb the Television. In some ways Bush is a bit of an Anarchist. I mean some radicals have fantasies like this, but really floating this kind of thing in the halls of power, like some crazed giant child -- I find it too easy to believe. Paper Says Bush Talked of Bombing Arab TV Network:
President Bush expressed interest in bombing the headquarters of the Arabic television network al-Jazeera during a White House conversation with Prime Minister Tony Blair in April 2004, a British newspaper reported Tuesday.
The Daily Mirror report was attributed to two anonymous sources describing a classified document they said contained a transcript of the two leaders' talk. One source is quoted as saying Bush's alleged remark concerning the network's headquarters in Qatar was "humorous, not serious," while the other said, "Bush was deadly serious."
I have always thought there was something shadowy and vicious about the conflict between al-Jazeera and Bush. The part in Control Room where American planes kill Jazeera correspondent Tareq Ayub is killed in Baghdad was a terrible moment in the history of journalism -- and stories such as this make it seem more likely that the Pentagon really does believe this is a workable PR strategy. Juan Cole reflects on Al Jazeera & the conflict on all this.
Either way, this seems to be serious, given the Official Secrets Act gag orders on the whole thing, reports Guardian. The White House scoffed contemptuously.
Cheney: Drudge: X Marks the spot.
The More Well Known Pong: The history of Beer pong at Dartmouth.
The Mongolian Armed Forces are serving the cause of freedom.This WSJ bit about Mongolia made me sort of happy. I don't know why, but the idea that Bush managed to stir up the spectre of the Mongol Hordes seems so ... appropriate.
But Mongolia, which contributed about 130 soldiers, has maintained its number through five troop rotations, managing to avoid the sort of explosive local debate that has echoed through other foreign capitals. If that number sounds small, consider this: As a proportion of population, the infantry company and engineering platoon Mongolia sent from a population of 2.5 million people makes it the third-largest U.S. partner per capita.
"The Mongolian Armed Forces are serving the cause of freedom," Mr. Bush said, "and U.S. forces are proud to serve beside such fearless warriors."
....In preparing for Mongolia, the president needed to figure out how to tactfully refuse a gift horse. ...Rumsfeld got a horse -- a black-maned steed he named "Montana" -- when he visited this visually stunning nation of desert steppes in October. Such gift horses aren't actually taken home; instead, they are kept around but not ridden, in anticipation of the next visit.
But White House aides say Mr. Bush was worried about the obligations of ownership. Would taxpayers be on the hook for upkeep? Was there any way to guarantee the horse's well-being down the road? The question occupied not one but several meetings at the National Security Council in the days leading up to Mr. Bush's trip...
Gang feuds for control of local bazaars have flared up in the south, while an angry crowd managed to seize and briefly hold the main government building in the north, a severe blow to the reputation of newly elected President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
Volkswagen rocked by claims of sex junkets. What more can I say? Oh well, it's Brazil?
MOSCOW (Reuters) - An eagle-eyed investigator's wife ended a Russian manhunt by spotting a murder suspect's name in the credits of a television show, a newspaper said Tuesday.
SONY DRM copy protection defeated by tape. I will always believe that Securing Freedom by protecting Fair Use rights are essential to maintaining a vital and healthy culture. Therefore, whenever corporate copy protection systems are defeated be ingenious human beings, I think it makes a real positive -- and immediate -- improvement. A piece of tape defeats Sony's new DRM system - the rootkit one:
The user can simply apply a fingernail-sized piece of opaque tape to the outer edge of the disc, rendering session 2 - which contains the self-loading DRM software, unreadable. The PC then treats the CD as an ordinary single-session music CD, and the commonly used CD "rip" programs continue to work as usual.
Misc file: What happens when you get possessed by Bill Cosby? Jeff Goldblum is watching you... Cebu mayor: I will go to sex den if I want to. Chinese develop the liquid condom. In the ever-expanding world of the cosmetic surgery industry, new breast implant gel technology promises to be less likely to kill you. Getting a tech job in the XXX internet business.
Interweb securitay: The Bavarian police issue a strangely precise advisory about a Sober.worm virus - before it seemed to appear on the Internet. Always time for intrigue in Bavaria... Oddly enough the worm also comes with (fake) messages that claim to be from the FBI and CIA, implicating illegal activity. Oh my.
Honduran Teen Escapes Prison for 5th Time. He said he was going to break out and kill all the journalists. Somewhere, the future Karl Rove-Che hybrid of Central America is hiding...