on politics, privacy, parenting, and the planet.
Everything I need to know, I will learn from my children. r.b.
what's on your mind?
(+ is new update)
Thursday, July 31Poindexter
The creator of the Terrorism Information Awareness Program and the terrorist futures market, John Poindexter is expected to resign shortly.
The Pentagon official who oversaw the development of a plan for the military to operate a terrorist futures-trading market is resigning under pressure, a senior defense official said today.Good riddance.
Retailers have begun using chips t track their inventory. The chips use radio frequency identification (RFID). They communicate with detectors arrayed throughout a store. These "spy chips" are embedded in everything from CDs to shoes and even shirts. A store with an embedded tracking system can track a specific item, that a customer has picked up, as the customer moves throughout the store. In a test in England razor blades were outfitted with the chips and customers pictures were taken whenever a package of blades was picked up and when the same blades were paid for at the cash register.
The supermarket chain Tesco has admitted testing controversial technology that tracks customers buying certain products through its stores. Anyone picking up Gillette Mach3 razor blades at its Cambridge store will have his or her picture taken.Conceivably, if you use a "loyalty/club card" and/or a credit card when you shop you can be tied to specific items that you purchased. For instance, if you buy a pair of shoes that has an embedded chip and pay for that with a credit card then your name and the id of the specific shoe is entered in a database. If you wear those shoes the next time you come to the store the sensors will know who you are, what you have purchased in the past and they will be able to track you as you wander in the store. Maybe cameras will even take your picture on occasion.
Did you stop to browse CDs? Did you look at books? Did you browse toys? Did you try on clothes? What did you ultimately buy? How much did you spend? Theoretically, if you have something with a chip in it you could be tracked wherever you go. There just needs to be a receiver that is capable of reading the signal.
WalMart is the biggest proponent of this "inventory" technology. The Defense Department is also interested in this technology. (Did someone say, "DARPA"?)
Since the Auto-ID Center's founding at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1999, it has moved forward at remarkable speed. The center has attracted funding from some of the largest consumer goods manufacturers in the world, and even counts the Department of Defense among its sponsors. In a mid-2001 pilot test with Gillette, Philip Morris, Procter & Gamble, and Wal-Mart, the center wired the entire city of Tulsa, Oklahoma with radio-frequency equipment to verify its ability to track Auto-ID equipped packages. CASPIANThese chips could make it easy for the feds too track us too. We will unsuspectingly buy a shirt with a chip. Then feds then will track every where we go. They could even take our pictures with those camerars that are increasingly appearing atop new traffic signals at intersections. I used to think that in order to track us it would be necessary to embed a chip in everyone's forehead, but that concept was too sci-fi and too invasive. Who would put up with that? Instead we are unknowingly and voluntarily paving the way for us to be tracked by using club cards, credit cards and buying items with embedded chips.
Perhaps we are just sheep. Baa.
Wednesday, July 30I'm Confused
Let me get this straight. The attacks of September 11th were the work of Al Qaeda,under the direction of Usama bin landen. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in order to disrupt Al Qaeda, overthrow the Taliban and get Usama bin laden. This year the U.S. invaded Iraq in order to quell the terrorist potential there since they were developing WMDs, but none have been found. Now the U.S. has a game of chase going on with Saddam Hussein. We seem to have forgotten about Usama and Al Qaeda. Although, if the threat assessments are to be believed, Al Qaeda is planning on hijacking more planes in the U.S. Shouldn't we be focused on Usama and Al Qaeda? Shouldn't we be rebuilding Afghanistan so that the Taliban loses its supporters and the nation is stable?
Finally, if we hadn't invaded Iraq the U.S. would have troops and funds available for other missions, such as peacekeeping in Liberia. How can we spend 3.9 billion per month in Iraq, but balk at paying a paltry $110 million to support peackeeping troops for six months? But no, BushCo had a decade old plan to get Iraqi oil and use Iraq for military bases. Budgets hemorrage while the U.S. pays try to keep some order in Iraq and teh U.S. seems to have left Afghanistan to fall apart and we still haven't found Usama. How can BushCo have any popular support?
We are less safe then when the Supreme Court put his Shrubness into office. We have over extended our military, we have a massive deficit, we have bankrupt local and state governments, an ever worsening economy and an increasingly deteriorating environment. If people can support this state of affairs they will support anything.
Tuesday, July 29Betting on assassination
A "Pre-Script": This futures market in terrorism has been cancelled.
The Pentagon will abandon a plan to establish a futures market to help predict terrorist strikes, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Tuesday.
The original post:
Poindexter and the other folks at DARPA are at it again. This time ,in order to "predict" middle eastern hotspots, instability and terrorist attacks DARPA has created a commodities trading board. This board, the "Policy Analysis Market" (PAM) will begin testing online on August 1st. People who play the commodities game can gamble as to whether or not a government will be overthrown or a leader assassinated. The site describes this process in cold analytical terms:
To illustrate the sort of contracts tradable on PAM, consider two issues tied to the now-historic case of pending hostilities between the United States and Iraq: (a) whether or not the Jordanian monarchy would be overthrown during hostilities between the United States and Iraq and (b) the ability of the Iraqi regime to persist for more than one month of hostilities. Each of these issues has two states; they occur or do not occur. A pair of futures contracts can therefore be defined for each issue and only one of each pair can end up as true:People are expected to wager real money on this trading board. The Department of Defense has requested $8 million to run the board. This whole concept is grotesque. How would the U.S. react if another noation were taking bets n the liklihood of a presidential assasination?
The good news is that Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has called for this site to be shutdown. He has called the site, "incredibly stupid.”
In a letter to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) Dr. John Poindexter today, Dorgan, who was joined by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said they would work to stop funding for such a program. They told Poindexter they want the Policy Analysis Market stopped now.As news of this project has come to light the website has been altered and some scenarios were removed.
The White House also altered the Web site so that the potential events to be considered by the market that were visible earlier in the day at www.policyanalysismarket.org could no longer be seen.
One can only fear what other projects these folks will cook up. The inmates clearly are in charge of the asylum.
(If you don't know about DARPA and TIA I have written often about both. Most recently here.)
Monday, July 28California Recall
The recall of Governor Gray Davis is underway. The election is scheduled for October. The fact that an elected Governor can face a recall simply because he is unliked and people have money to burn to pay for signature gatherers is both galling and surreal. Perhaps if a republican is elected at the recall, the democrats should organize a recall of the new governor. We could have rotating Governors in California. Politics at its finest.
Bill Maher, as always has a humorous take on these events. And humor is needed now. I have reprinted Bill Maher's column, that first appeared in the LA Times, in its entirety below.
This butter cleans your teeth while you eat it
The world of mass production has brought us something else to worry about. Land O' Lakes has recalled its one-pound packages of salted stick butter because they may contain small fragments of metal. If this weren't a large corporation in a mass production world this wouldn't be much of a problem. Instead half the U.S. is affected. This butter is distributed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
The Rittenhouse Review has an excellent discussion of the pickle that Condi Rice has put her self in. She is either incompetent (my vote) or a liar (she may be that too).
Thanks for the Memories
Bob Hope has died. He was 100. We'll miss you Bob.
Friday, July 25another farmers' market accident
By a strange coincidence, or quirk of fate, another elderly driver has driven into a farmers' market. This time in Florida.
about those photos
Did the U.S. really need to release those photos? Is this a precedent that should be set? If many Iraqi's aren't going to believe that the brothers are dead -- because they don't trust the U.S. -- then will these pictures really help that much? Is this small possibility worth taking yet another step into the moraless abyss? Apparently so to BushCo. Now we find out that the corpses have undergone facial reconstruction surgery AND a television crew has filmed the corpses. The U.S. is at another new low. The depths to which BushCo will bring us are unfathomable. Next can we expect BushCo to have their heads mounted on posts in a square in Baghdad?
September 11th Congressional Report
The Report of the "Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001" is out in redacted form. For instance, information, that probably makes Saudi Arabia look bad, was removed by the White House. The full report is here.
It is 832 pages long. You won't likely read the whole thing. I certainly haven't and won't. Fortunately you can download it in sections. From the "Abridged Findings and Conclusions", Finding 19 is of interest. The intelligence agencies failed to communicate with each other and generally failed to connect the dots, but they knew that something was up in the summer of 2001 and their fears were communicated to the White House, but those warnings were ignored.
"Despite intelligence information on the immediacy of the threat level in the spring and summer of 2001, the assumption prevailed in the U.S. Government that attacks of the magnitude of September 11 could not happen here."Also, apparently the White House and the National Security Administration were not forthcoming with information. Do you think that they have something to hide?
The mirror slowly cracks...
Good news in the offing? Are people beginning to wake up? BushCo's ratings are down. Could this be a trend? No dancing just yet, but there is a glimmer of hope.
For the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, rank-and-file Republicans say they are worried about President Bush's re-election chances based on the feeble economy, the rising death toll in Iraq and questions about his credibility.
Wednesday, July 23Can the end justify the means?
I know that Uday and Qusay were horrible people and that they may have killed people out of whim and for sport, but does that mean that the U.S. government should have a policy to kill them? I understand that their deaths may weaken the resistance to U.S. and British forces and help pave the way to a stable Iraq, but I am troubled by this hunt and kill philosophy that BushCo proudly declares. I always thought that we were supposed to try to capture people first and that any death was regrettable and sometimes unavoidable. Should we have not held the Nuremberg trials? Should we have just rounded up every Nazi and shot them instead? That sure would have been quicker and more "efficient". The PR impact is much more immediate when no one is taken alive. ANd if there are no prisoners then there are no messy questions about possible torture and prisoner rights...
...who said the pictures show badly shot bodies that were still clearly recognizable.Officially:
"They resisted the detention and the efforts of the coalition forces to go in there and apprehend them, and they were killed in the ensuing gunfight and the attacks that we conducted on the residence," Sanchez said. Four coalition soldiers were wounded in the operation.CNNBut couldn't the residence have been surrounded and held under siege? The description of the weapons used sure indicate to me that a decision to get them at all costs and as quickly as possible had been made.
The standby OH-58 Delta Kiowa helicopters fired rockets and machine guns.Besides, the U.S. still has an official policy outlawing assassinations.
In theory, pursuing with intent to kill violates a long-standing policy banning political assassination. It was the misfortune of Saddam Hussein's sons that the Bush administration has not bothered to enforce the prohibition.
Tuesday, July 22GOP Moves to Stop Ads
The GOP is threatening television stations. The GOP is trying to stop this Democratic National Committee advertisement from airing. The ad shows the lies that Bush made in his State of the Union address in order to justify invading Iraq. Here is the text of a letter being sent to television stations by attorneys for the GOP:
Dear Station Manager:
Uday and Qusay may have been killed
There is new speculation that Saddam's sons, Uday and Qusay, may have been killed. Maybe the U.S. is closing in on Saddam. But don't forget about that convoy that was attacked a few weeks ago. Originally we were told that it had high ranking Iraqis in it, including Saddam. Then as time passed it turned out to be something different and there may have been no high ranking Iraqis and certainly not Saddam.
Speculation grew this evening that Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay may have been killed in an American raid on a house in northern Iraq.
Friday, July 18a smoking gun?
Skimble has a map of Iraqi oil fields that was released as part of the official records of Dick Cheney's secret meetings for "Cheney Energy Task Force". The implication is that Cheney and the oil companies were planning on using Iraqi oil in early 2001. I wonder how they planned on getting it? An invasion were sure be helpful, George.
Howard Dean has 16 questions for BushCo about the way the U.S. was led to war and failed to foresee the continuing Iraqi resistance.
The key informant on the British Iraqi "dossier" is dead. The body of, weapons expert, Dr. David Kelly was found in a wooded area near his home.
Dr Kelly, 59, had been caught up in a row between the BBC and the government about the use of intelligence reports in the run-up to the war with Iraq.
Here, have a teddy bear, don't mind the fact that it weighs a lot, there's just a gun inside ...
do we really care?
Don't people have better things to do? Don't people have more significant things to worry about? Is it really worth clogging up the courts for this?
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, is going to court to prevent wares bought at rival Kmart from going for a spin at the register.
Thursday, July 17Oh What Busy Webs We Weave
Be sure to check out Talking Points Memo and Tom Tomorrow for the latest on "uraniumgate". The NSA staffer who pushed for the language has been identified. And read this on how the White House has taken responsibility --not!
Start your day with a smile. It may be your last.
With this title I don't mean to make light of this tragedy. Life is short. You have to treasure each moment. When I was a child I had a sign on my bedroom door that said, "Start your day with a smile. It may be your last." People thought it was morbid. I thought that it was far from morbid. I thought that it was to the point. You never know when you are going to go. So you should always strive to live in the present moment. You should cherish what you have while you have it. You don't know when your time is up or when another's time is up. You might go to the farmers market for some strawberries and be plowed down by a runaway car. This accident is tragic for all involved. (password/id: "rbyrd", good for 7 days) I can't even begin to imagine how devastated the parents of the 2 year-old, who was killed, must be. They just went to a market and their lives were changed forever.
(Postscript: A thought occurs to me that the underlying cause of this accident -- a car driven by an apparently healthy elderly person -- is societal. For transportation in the U.S. we depend primarily on our cars. We don't provide enough viable options for people who don't drive. Among other things, our reflexes slow as we age. Thus at some age, no matter how healthy a person is, it is probably wise to stop driving. For instance, before my father died he held steadfastly to his right to drive and took offense at any suggestion that he should limit his driving. Driving for him was symbolic of his health and his independence. If he didn't drive he was trapped at home because he had no reasonable public transit options.)
time for some humor
If you read this blog much you know that I am a Mark Fiore fan. His latest is on BushCo's damage control.
Wednesday, July 16TIA May Be Defeated
The Total/Terrorism Information Awareness Project has been a pet peeve of Byrd's Brain. Good news comes by way of Lean Left and Talk Left. A Senate Appropriations Committee panel has proposed killing all funding for the TIA. Could this mean that John Poindexter will join the ranks of the unemployed?
Iraq Invasion Costs
BushCo says that the U.S. is spending $4 billion a month in Iraq. Wow. I can hear that deficit growing. Today the Senate defeated a democratic proposal calling for an accounting of the Iraq war and post war costs. If BushCo had nothing to hide what would be the big deal? Could the effort be costing more than $4 billion each month? Could it be that an accounting might bring some questionable costs or expenditures to light? One thing BushCo doesn't like is light. It ruins the smoke and mirrors illusions.
Clinton's eradication of the deficit seems surreal now. The federal government ended 2001 with a $127 billion surplus, the fourth straight and second largest ever. Unfortunately, the recession, continuous tax cuts, the war in Iraq and the costs of fighting terrorism and eroding our civil rights are using up the money. BushCo has now projected that this year's federal deficit will surge to a record $455 billion!
I thought that republicans wanted to run government like a business. Is this how one runs a business? Maybe you do run a business this way when you can count on government subsidies and bailouts... And you run a government this way when you want to say -- in a couple f years perhaps -- that you must cut back on more services and privatize more services because there simply isn't enough money.
It's the Economy Stupid
Each of us can feel how bad the economy is. Every state has a budget crisis, millions are unemployed. College graduates can't find jobs. Companies are closing. Companies are in bankruptcy. And we read about new layoffs every day. But BushCo keeps touting reports and telling us that the economy isn't that bad. Could statistics lie?i
You betcha. In order to paint a rosy picture of the economy, BushCo is playing fast and loose with the statistics. BushCo has stopped reports that haven't been favorable and changed the reporting periods on others so that the stats aren't as bleak.
The administration muzzles routine economic information that's unfavorable. Last year, for example, the administration stopped issuing a monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics report, known as the Mass Layoff Statistics program, that tracked factory closings throughout the country. The cancellation was made known on Christmas Eve in a footnote to the department's final report—a document that revealed 2,150 mass layoffs in November, cashiering nearly a quarter-million workers. The administration claimed the report was a victim of budget cuts. After the Washington Post happened to catch this bit of data suppression, the BLS report was reinstated. (Interestingly, President George H.W. Bush buried these same statistics in '92, also during a period of job losses. They were revived by President Clinton.)In politics there has always been spin, but with BushCo everything is spin. BushCo is the great illusionist. It is all smoke and mirrors.
Tuesday, July 15Operation Hidden Agenda
I just found these. Playing cards depicting the Bush regime and its "hidden agenda". The cards have pictures of the "president", Rumsfeld, Powell and others along with quotes. The quotes are mostly from journalists, questioning the rationale for the invasion of Iraq. The backs of the cards feature a 1983 photograph of Rumsfeld shaking Hussein's hand.
Monday, July 14The Carlyle Group
The Economist weighs in on the Carlyle Group.
Perhaps there would be less reason to worry about Carlyle if there were rival clubs of ex-political heavyweights competing within the iron triangle. Alas, this firm seems to be an aspiring monopolist, hoovering up former public officials from across the political divide and, increasingly, from across the world. It is becoming more ambitious in Europe, and keenly eyeing China. Perhaps there would be less reason to worry if Carlyle's activities were more open—but as a private equity firm, it has largely escaped America's recent efforts to improve the governance and transparency of companies, which is unfortunate. At a time when America is aggressively promoting democracy and capitalism abroad, including by military means, it would be helpful if its politicians and businesses were regarded as cleaner than clean. Shrouded in secrecy, Carlyle calls capitalism into question.
better living through chemicals
That is me I hope. I have had recurring sinus infections for years. The infections are probably due to my allergies. I am allergic to dust mites and cats and dogs. One can't avoid dust unless you live outside and we have a cat that I have had for years. Some people tell me to give the cat away, but I can't do that.
The sinus infections were coming at a pace of 4 or more a year -- 10 years ago so I had sinus surgery. That helped a lot. I have had very few sinus infections since. But now for the last two months, ever since my plane flights to and from St. Louis, I have been battling a sinus infection. It won't go away. For those of you lucky enough to never have had a sinus infection let me give you an idea of what the experience is like.
Sinus infections give you a headache that aspirin, tylenol, aleve, combined can't stop. They also make you tired, very tired, all the time. You go to bed exhausted. You wake up feeling like you haven't slept. As you can imagine a person with a sinus infection --in constant unrelieved pain -- is not a joy to be around. I have been on four courses of antibiotics. Last Thursday I went to an ENT because the infection was still around and I was losing my voice. Losing my voice was the last straw. As you might imagine, I like to talk.
The infection has moved into my vocal chords. They are swollen. Now to treat the spreading infection, I am on my fifth regimen of antibiotics. This time it is something called "Ceftin" . I am also on a streroid -- prednisone. This is to reduce the swelling in my sinuses and my vocal chords. Each of these has their downside, but I want them to work. The ceftin is supposed to "clean everything out." That experience may not be pleasant -- the good bacteria will go out with the bad, but if the bad goes I will be happy. I am eating a lot of yogurt in hopes of maintaining good bacteria throughout this process.
Then there is the steroid. It can amp me up like I have had 20 cups of coffee. Last night I learned that it can lead to insomnia. Finally, everyone has warned me about the weight that I will gain. My doctor expects me to gain 2 pounds. I am only taking these drugs for 2 weeks, but it might be a rough couple of weeks. I want all of this to work. If it doesn't then I may be looking at another Sinus surgery. I would rather avoid the surgery.
Enough about me. On with the politics.
Friday, July 11denial is bliss
This survey sure helps explain why the world is the way it is. People see the problems around them, but they want someone else to fix them. The age of selfishness is in full swing.
Air pollution is bad. Most air pollution is caused by cars. I drive a car that pollutes. I will continue to drive my car. At least that is the reasoning of a majority of those surveyed.
Californians see air pollution as a major problem and blame automobile use as the main culprit, but few Golden State residents think their own driving is part of the problem, according to a new study released Thursday.The survey had some good news too.
Despite their attachment to a car-based lifestyle, Californians appear willing to change their driving habits to help the environment. About 52 percent said they would consider buying a smaller car to reduce air pollution and fuel use the next time they replace their current vehicle. About 45 percent said they would seriously consider switching to public transportation to commute to work.You can read the survey itself here.
Thursday, July 10wifi loses its cool
Internet cafes were cutting edge, internet cafes were cool. Sipping coffee and surfing the internet. It has an intellectual ring to it. McWiFi is banal, uncool and somehow sad. Eating highly questionable food products and surfing the internet -- for porn perhaps? How could someone even stand to stay at a McDonald's for an hour or more?
Many will say that "something is going to get us, so why worry." I'd say it makes sense to take reasonable precautions that protect ourselves and out loved ones.
There are concerns about another chemical additive that seems to be in virtually every type of item that people buy. This additive is PDBE -- polybrominated diphenyl ethers -- can impair brain development in young children and adversely affects a person's central nervous system. High levels of these chemicals have been found in the breast tissues of SF Bay Area women. This is alarming, particularly so because these things are everywhere. We all are exposed to them, more than once every day. People who sit at computers much of the day, for example, are exposed to these chemicals.
The chemicals were developed in the 1960s to protect people by reducing the flammability of polyurethane foam and plastics. Today they are commonly used in foam cushions and mattresses, carpet padding and car and plane seats as well as in hard plastics used in fax machines, computers and hair dryers.The good news is that in California a bill passed the Assembly in May to ban two of the three forms of these chemicals. The bill is up for a vote today in the state Senate. It is opposed by industry, of course, but it has a good chance of passing.
(A warning for my wife [and me] since we both use laptops that often sit in our laps. "Beware of the off gases that are generated by the heat of those laptops.")
Here is the bill.
Wednesday, July 9on the train
Tuesday, July 8privacy legislation
I spent the better part of the day in a hearing before the California Assembly. Thus I couldn't post any updates earlier. Although if the State Capitol had wi-fi service I could have blogged and surfed the internet without interruption. You have to understand that although I was attendng a hearing I had an awful lot of time to myself. The substantive part of the hearing likely took two hours, but the part of the hearing that I had to sit through lasted for 5 hours. There was a lot of down time while the committee waited for enough members to have a quorum -- committee members got up and left the room at any time -- and while the committee waited for bill sponsors to actually appear and testify in support of their bills. The audience was comprised almost entirely of lobbyists. I realized today that real people don't attend legislative hearings. Instead they are attended by paid professionals, who most likely would take any position that they were paid to take.
I am not a lobbyist, so during the down time I read work files. On the other hand, the lobbyists were all a buzz and quite active during these "breaks", rubbing elbows with each other and cornering members of the committee.
The legislation that I was prepared to testify on is a privacy bill that has been defeated by business interests three times in the last three years. It was defeated again a few weeks ago, but after much maneuvering it was brought back to life on "reconsideration" today. I was prepared to testify in qualified support, but with some consumer protection amendments that I felt were needed. However, the testimony in support of the bill was limited by the committee chair to comments only on the newest amendments. I had none on those so I had no acceptable testimony. The bill sponsor testified about these amendments. She explained how each amendment had been added in order to address the concerns of one or another industry group. In other words, the privacy bill was being gutted slowly in order to get enough votes for passage. However, when the committee vote was taken enough members were not present to pass or defeat the bill. The vote was placed "on call." Meaning that members would vote if they happen to appear before the last committee matter was heard.
So yes, I sat for five hours waiting to testify and wasn't permitted to testify and as I write this, I don't even know if the privacy bill was passed out of committee or if it was defeated. in a way though it may not matter. This bill is 16 pages long and full of exemptions and exceptions for various sectors of the business community. The bill is supposed to require companies to notify customers of their privacy practices -- who they share consumers' personal information with -- and to mandate that companies permit consumers to opt in or opt out of this information sharing. But the bill has slowly been gutted, so it might be just as well if it failed today.
Much better legislation is being proposed as an initiative that should appear on the March ballot. That initiative is two short pages long. It simply says that if companies want to share (give/sell/rent) a consumer's personally identifiable information then they have to have the consumer's consent to do so. Simple and to the point.
The information is yours and mine and not the property of companies.
(Postscript July 9th: The privacy bill died in committee. The privacy initiative has almost the required signatures needed to qualify for the California ballot. The language of the initiative is here.)
Monday, July 7we have a duck
Dr. Laurence Britt studied the fascist regimes of: Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet. He found that the regimes had 14 identifying fascist characteristics:
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.Maybe I am being melodramatic, but these characteristcs sound a lot like BushCo's world.
If it looks like a duck. If it sounds lilke a duck. If it walks like a duck, then it is a duck. Ladies and gentlemen we have a duck.
Britt's entire article is available here.
Thursday, July 3are you being watched? maybe not yet, but soon.
DARPA is at it again. This time it is the "Information Exploitation Office" that now has my attention.
I've lamented about the pervasive presence of video surveillence in the past. My fear has been that these surveillence cameras could somehow be connected so that their images could be shared and people could be tracked. That ability to connect the cameras is now being studied by our friends at DARPA.
The IEO has a project underway that ostensibly is for combat areas -- dubbed "Combat Areas That See" -- but could very easily morph into domestic surveillence. The project involves thousands of video cameras that feed images to a central database. The system is intended to track all vehicles (and people?) in the "combat zone". mcreasong
The Combat zones That See (CTS) program aims to improve situational awareness, extend observation and strengthen force protection in cities that are not under our control and in cities that have been taken, but not fully secured. The program will explore concepts, develop algorithms, and deliver systems that enable the use of large numbers (1000s) of video cameras to provide the close-in sensing needed to support military operations in urban terrain.True privacy is rooted in anonymity. The less anonymous we are in our daily actions the less private our lives become.
(If you don't know about DARPA and the Terrorism Information Project read here.
Although the scientists disagree, from a moral, ethical and cultural perspective nothing good can come from this Does the end justify the means? How can one intentionally create human life and then destroy it days later?
Tuesday, July 1our weapons are the baddest
No one can have WMDs except the U.S. Now the U.S. isn't even satisfied with plain ole WMDs. The U.S. wants to build super weapons to be launched from space. I had less of a problem with this -- we have bigger weapons than yours -- approach when U.S. weapons were to be used for defense. But any weapons, much less "super weapons" in the hands of the BushCo first strikers should make everyone nervous. Also, I guess that the weaponizing of space was inevitable, but I am sorry to see it starting. Apparently nothing is sacred if it can be used for weaponry.
The Pentagon is planning a new generation of weapons, including huge hypersonic drones and bombs dropped from space, that will allow the US to strike its enemies at lightning speed from its own territory.These weapons are being created under the auspices of DARPA, the same folks who have brought us the Terrorist Information Awareness System.