September 10th, 2011

The threat

Interesting article in Scientific American. It opens with an interesting perspective.

The CIA notes the annual U.S. death rate is 8.38 fatalities per 1,000 citizens, below that of a country like Nigeria but above other places, such as Uzbekistan. The leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease, cancer and car accidents, which killed roughly 1.2 million Americans in 2007, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control—more than half of all fatalities in the country. For comparison, terrorists killed no one in the U.S. that year.

Something to think about when considering where money is best spend.

Disclaimer: While here in Europe, things are slightly more relaxed and not so “TSA-ish”, I have not doubt whatsoever, both the above numbers, the spending on mostly fake security as well as the outrageous invasion on privacy is at least comparable (and I am being kind here). Sigh.


July 23rd, 2011

The shooting and bombing

Православни икониSo, yesterday evening, shortly after the bomb went off in Oslo (which looked very much like Oklahoma b.t.w.), our television networks were full of semi governmental (in this case, instituut Clingedael) or self proclaimed experts “explaining” the logical choice of “Islam terrorists” to do this and there (the prime minister’s office), given that

  • Norway was the only NATO member assisting in bombing Libya
  • Norway’s response in the Danish cartoon issue
  • etc. etc. etc.

Not a word about the issue of small but violent extreme right wing groups in Scandinavia.

Well, they were right. It was the work of a religious-conservative extremist. Just the wrong faith for this eh? Dang.

Note: I am sorry if this feels disrespectful to the victims and their families. It  is not. I am so terribly sorry  about this sickening event, whoever did it and for whatever motives. It is just the convenient “Moslim terrorist” knee jerk response by the politicians and even the “experts” that seriously rubs me the wrong way.

Disclaimer: I am an atheist. Not sure if it matters re. my opinion. Just saying.Православни икони

January 8th, 2011

The long arm of the law

Today it was announced that on December 15th, the US subpoenaed a.o. the twitter accounts of Rob Gongrijp (a Dutchman, he is the guy behind the “we don’t trust voting computers” here, there is more on this blog about that) and an Icelandic member of parliament Birgitta Jónsdóttir (she has pushed lawmaking in favor of protecting “leakers”). The subpoena was held secret for 3 weeks, by order of the US magistrate Theresa Buchanan.

Lessons kearned:

  • If one uses US based cloud services, accept they are bound by US law (google, microsoft, twitter, this blog)
  • accept there is no such thing as respect for foreign law, on the contrary: in my experience, for US law enforcement, a non-American citizen is one step lower on the ladder (sorry to be so blunt)
  • accept in a broad sense that to plead for a transparent government, one is probably a Wikileaks supporter, and therefor somehow a terrorist, or at least there is some sort of smell. (see this youtube how Wikileaks REALLY works)
  • accept that this smell is enough to tear down a lot of intrinsic mechanisms to protect the average Joe from it’s, or in this case somebody else’s government.

A sad state of affairs.

And just for the record: my country is not a shred better in cases like this. Just more silent.

December 26th, 2010

Terrorists!!! Oh wait?

Friday, xmas eve. 12 Somalians are arrested and taken into custody “to prevent a terrorist attack that was to be executed on short notice”.

Somehow it didn’t feel right. The squad first busted into the hotel where these 12…… were not, but hey, we’re only human, and we cannot do all the checks perfect. Also, their laywer stated his clients were very “surprised” about being arrested. Not really the language you’d expect.

Today, 48 hours later, 5 have been released already. No weapons, no explosives were found. Somehow it sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Update 72 hours: another one freed without charge.

Update 96 hours: 4 more have been released, so only one now in custody. The one is still suspect, as are two of the released ones, which usually means they are suspect of a relatively minor offence. Some defence by the police is already piling up, usually along the lines of “when the intelligence service issues a message, one acts and doesn’t investigate”. Nice try, especially as the material from the intelligence service can NOT be used in court.

Update 120 hours: Not all is out in the open, but it seems a classic case of “I will tip off the cops you are a terrorist if you don’t xyz”. Case is not closed, but it is here. Who’s the laughing stock?

Update 144 hours: Oh erm, well, no. The last one has been released.

February 11th, 2010

The account data (updated)

According to local news outlets secretary Clinton…

…. urged EU parliament by letter to share bank account data of European citizens with American authorities. This data is needed in our “mutual effort to counter terrorism”.

This red flags the hell out of me. What would you guys think if our Secret Service type of guys wanted to browse though your transactions?

Parliament seems to be against sharing, but expect members to fall like domino bricks under US pressure. One member though explained there was not a single concession in Clintons letter to the EU and basically said there was room for ‘discussion’ after legislation to share would have passed. wtf?

Added 2/11: Today, the European parliament, for the first time since it’s power was raised by the Lisbon treaty, rejected above treaty 378 against 196 with the US. Reasoning was

  • Unclear which US authorities would have access to EU bank data
  • Impossible for inhabitants to see what data is shared
  • No appeal procedure if shared data is false

Note: the treaty was approved by the member states one day before the Lisbon treaty came into effect, which was seen by a lot of people as a hasty push-through. Also note that the treaty in itself was deemed “needed” since Swift moved it’s operation from US soil, and thereby falling under US anti-terrorism laws (read: we can see everything we want to see), to the Netherlands. If I find the time I will try to find out why Swift decided to do that.

Added: here is a statement from Swift, give a tiny bit of insight.

February 10th, 2009

Obama ducks question from Helen Thomas – THE ANSWER IS ISRAEL!

There’s a reason why “Bush the Lesser” refused to take questions from White House correspondent Helen Thomas – she asks REAL questions. So at last nights press conference President Obama ducked one of Helen’s two questions. While I’m thrilled he called on her (did he really have any choice – I thought she’d be first in line?) he didn’t answer her question and that to me was very disappointing – who is it, on the Israeli right President Obama is protecting? Our “Middle East” foreign policy must be based on pragmatism, but President Obama is unable, or unwilling to speak the truth.

Obama: All right. Helen. This is my inaugural moment here. (Laughter.) I’m really excited.

Helen Thomas:…. And also, do you know of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?


Obama: With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don’t want to speculate. What I know is this: that if we see a nuclear arms race in a region as volatile as the Middle East, everybody will be in danger.

And one of my goals is to prevent nuclear proliferation generally.

I think that it’s important for the United States, in concert with Russia, to lead the way on this. And you know, I’ve mentioned this in conversations with the Russian president, Mr. Medvedev, to let him know that it is important for us to restart the conversation, about how we can start reducing our nuclear arsenals in an effective way, so that —

[CK: at this point Obama cuts Helen off and moves on to another reporter]

Who Mr. President, who has nuclear weapons in the “Middle East?” Come now – I hope you know the answer. :(

November 3rd, 2008

Eve of Destruction

Noam Chomsky recently noted that the United States has one political party with two factions: the Republicans and the Democrats. The elections to be held this Tuesday in the United States will, no doubt, impact people around the world, some for better and many for worse. I’m not sure why, but I was poking around in my “archives” tonight and revisited a lecture that has had a big impact on how I view my country. Speaking at Riverside Church in New York City author Arundhati Roy delivered her thoughts in a message titled, “Instant Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One Get One Free),” on April 13, 2003.

Roy noted, among many other things, that:

Way back in 1988, on the 3rd of July, the U.S.S. Vincennes, a missile cruiser stationed in the Persian Gulf, accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner and killed 290 civilian passengers. George Bush the First, who was at the time on his presidential campaign, was asked to comment on the incident. He said quite subtly, “I will never apologize for the United States. I don’t care what the facts are.”

I don’t care what the facts are. What a perfect maxim for the New American Empire. Perhaps a slight variation on the theme would be more apposite: The facts can be whatever we want them to be.

When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC News poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported Al Qaida. None of this opinion is based on evidence (because there isn’t any). All of it is based on insinuation, auto-suggestion, and outright lies circulated by the U.S. corporate media, otherwise known as the “Free Press,” that hollow pillar on which contemporary American democracy rests.

Public support in the U.S. for the war against Iraq was founded on a multi-tiered edifice of falsehood and deceit, coordinated by the U.S. government and faithfully amplified by the corporate media.

Good luck to us all.

A written transcript of Roy’s presentation is available here.

June 23rd, 2008

The refugee

Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe and his party rule the country with intimidation and violence. Until Tsvangirai, the popular opposition leader finally challenged him. In the last presidential election, he won by a substantial margin, but the rigged election committee declared the victory JUST not enough, so a second round was needed. In the meantime, Mugabe’s criminal lot organized widespread violence against Tsvangirai’s supporters and he had to face this tough decision, just before the second election: withdraw, save his supporters from the killings and intimidation, and stay the winner of the first round, or go on, spiraling in more violence, organized by Mugabe’s mob, and almost certainly be the second round’s looser. No supporter in his right mind would dare to vote, and even if he won again, a new rig is easily organized. Terrorism: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.

He caved, and I think it is wise. And he also sought refuge, ending up in the embassy of my country.

NRC: Dutch Emassy in Harare

I hope our people treat him as the statesman he is entitled to be.

In the meantime, what can we do? Well, we should NOT go there. The Europeans (and yes, the US too) would be regarded as again the arrogant colonists. We should support the regions pressure on Mugabe, especially on South Africa, which has taken a too soft stance of the criminals. And we should freeze the money on a global scale. The EU countries blocked the accounts of Mugabe and his 130 most loyal henchmen. It’s more than time the other civilized countries did the same.

May 30th, 2008

The Wiretappers of Europe re-revisited

The numbers are out:

  • US: 2.208 calls in 2007 (that is, the legal ones, not the NSA illegal tapping) [see update]
  • NL: 1.681 calls active taps per day in 2007.

OK, read that again. My country taps 280 times more calls. If we assume that on average every US and NL citizen makes the same number of calls, then corrected for the number of inhabitants, there is up to a 5000 times higher chance to be tapped here than in the US. The terrorists won.

Update and correction Nov 2009: I might have compared apples with oranges. The NL numbers represent the mean number of phone numbers tapped in a day. I will try to do some digging if the US number represented the same rationale. Anyway, for 2008 NL: total numbers (so not calls) tapped: 26.424, mean number of taps per day: 1946. This implies 1 out of every 605 citizens is being tapped.

Earlier on the nest: The Wiretappers of Europe, The Wiretappers of Europe revisted.

March 11th, 2008

The war on moisture crumbling

My last flight in the US there was a final security check leaving the secured area; I am pretty sure it was also processing domestic passengers, and people had to toss their water, that they had received on the plane or had bought in the secured area. Huh? Anyway, the European Parliament has pulled control over airport legislation to itself. It’s first act will be to get rid of the ban on fluids ASAP, starting with transit passengers. By summer, everybody can take their lotion, baby food, water bottle etc. on board.

The European Committee (y-t: the “European Administration”) was never able to prove that taking away liquids from passengers luggage ever stopped an attack.