October 26th, 2006

The status symbolism of terrorists

Our justice department had a special “terrorist” ward build in the prison in Vught, which by itself is the highest security prison in our country (think in terms of internal visitation after they had a guest). The justice department did so to avoid jailed extremists to find new indoctrination victims. Then, afterwards, they asked the specialists, “the council for criminal law execution” for advice about it. The council concluded that:

It is not imaginary that detention in this special ward actually stimulates further radicalization. Furthermore, being detained there might raise the prisoners status because it draws more public attention and them being acknowledged as terrorist is highlighted. It is not clear how the new regime adds to the stated goals: reduction of radicalization during detention.

I am happy there are some sensible people left. Too bad they were consulted after the ward was build and some nut-cases (I won’t call their names here, I would again raise the fucking criminals status again) detained there. But to say I am really surprised by that late move? Nah.

disclaimer: The quote is my sloppy translation, based on a newspaper article.

October 22nd, 2006

Who luvs ya babe?

sony.jpg

Sitting outside on the deck behind my house this evening listening to light infantry practicing their trade with motor rounds (Ft. Rich?) I began to think about the role foreign corporations and capital play in Alaska and The United States (1). Thinking perhaps because I have to look at British Petroleum’s ugly corporate headquarters when I scan the horizon from the deck behind my house. The view of BP’s headquarters coupled with BPs’ meddling in my State’s political scenery has my head spinning (more to come). So why do BP and other foriegn corporations dominate “the landscape” here in the U.S? Why, at least in terms of take, are the biggest mining operations in Alaska owned by companies from Canada?

I’m not aware of any U.S. corporation that even comes close to Japan’s SONY considering the scope of products that SONY offers in the U.S. market – by what mechanism has SONY Corp inserted itself into our economy? HINT: the first SONY “boom boxes” were introduced during the so called “Viet-Nam” conflict in the late 1960s; the big corporate players in the U.S., at the time, were preoccupied with easy money supplied by the government for war goodies (many of those U.S. based corporations that made their take in Vietnam have since “bit the dust” or are now owned by foreign companies). Are the taxes being collected by our Federal Government now being funneled into companies that are too short sighted to make it on their own? Is history repeating itself? Go figure…..

bp_porch.jpg

(1) It’s not uncommon to hear Military excercises from Anchorage. The U.S. Army base, Fort Richardson is just to the north of Anchorage as is Elmondorf Air Force Base.

October 18th, 2006

The people who don’t have something better to do

Today, parliament, while debating on the budget for aid to developing countries, expressed fierce critism on Madonna adopting the Malawi kid. I am sure they had nothing better to do. A small country can sometimes feel really small.

October 11th, 2006

The fleeing children who were shot

Remember the (rightful) outrage when then Eastern German border guards shot people trying to cross the wall, flee the country? It still happens every day, including children. Status so far of this incident: 2 (or 3) killed, 9 or 10 children arrested, diplomatic silencing efforts.

A Tibetan monk who managed to reach Nepal was quoted in the paper as saying: “We started walking early through the Nangpa La Pass. Then the soldiers arrived. They started shooting and we ran; there were 15 children from eight to 10; only one escaped arrest.

“I just ran to save my life by praying to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I think the soldiers fired for 15 minutes.”

“They were shouting, but I did not hear them … I just heard gunshots passing my ears. I don’t remember how many people were shot.”

Another said: “When the Chinese started shooting, it was terrifying. We could only hear the gunfire and our friends screaming. We tried to take care of the seven-year-old girl with us.”

The nun who was killed, Kelsang Namtso, 17, was leading the children. A 13-year-old boy was also gunned down during 15 minutes of shooting witnessed by Western climbers, including two British policemen, 1,000 yards away at Cho Oyu camp.

Later three Chinese soldiersmarched the children through the camp – some 12 miles west of Mount Everest – as climbers and Sherpas looked on. None of the Westerners tried to help the Tibetans.

Hey but we need Beijing to control North Korea right? Well in my opinion this is sickening.

P.S: I regularly chat with a Chinese student in Beijing. Very nice person. I will try to blog in a while over the difference that a lot of people are unable to make between disliking a country (read: administration) or it’s people. I sense a lot of US citizens, with a little help from their administration, seem to be in the “they hate us” mode, whoever “they” might be.

Update: Interestingly, public radio here was broadcasting this news today. No way this can be silenced I guess. And there is more. They interviewed a Romanian ProTV camera man who filmed the whole massacre through a tent-window. According to him, not 2 but 8 people were slaughtered and 2 wounded, out of a group of almost 60. The bodies were left on the mountain, but the Chinese police came back next day and buried them in the glacier. He said “he never let the Chinese know he was filming to avoid being buried as another dead tibetan. Later, he found out one of the group had managed to flee and hide in the camp’s toilet and he interviewed him. According to him, the group was enroute to the Daya Lama, their spiritual leader, their “pope”, as he called him.

Now what is interesting in my opinion is this. Assuming the cameraman is bona fide and his filmed report will show on Romanian television soon, it will of course show up on YouTube in no time. But given google’s giving in to the Chinese regime’s request to ban i.e. all posts about Falun Gong (sp) AND their acquisition of YouTube, how much will really be shown? And will it be shown in China?

Update: Boing Boing picked it up, including a link to the Romanian video, which as been posted on the stations website. Still growing.

Update: Found and added the YouTube link. Not nice I must warn you. ProTV’s own link doesntseem to work anymore.

October 9th, 2006

The Diebolds of the world

So you think tamperable voting machines are a US-only problem huh? Here’s an interesting report (English) from the website wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet.nl (we don’t trust voting computers). I like the part where the manufacturer Nedap states “I’d like to see proven that it is a general computer so it can play chess” and the guys actually make it do that. Too funny. While the software is not written badly and a ton of redundancy is build into the systems, the basic root problem is the whole “security by obscurity” design. And don’t say they should build it on non standard hardware. It will only deepen the problem. A quote.

In contrast Jan Groenendaal, the maker of the ES3B software, in 2006 says:

“However Open Source or publishing the source code provides opportunities for dubious characters and unfortunately election and election fraud are both as old as democracy itself. The fact that only few people have this knowledge can also be interpreted in a positive light. If something goes wrong one quickly knows where to look, and this mere fact is a deterrent for willful manipulation (inside attack)”

This reasoning is a clear example of a controversial design practice often dubbed Security By Obscurity: the inner workings of his system need to remain secret to protect our elections from “dubious characters”. Many of the poor design choices that underlie the ES3B’s security problems can be excused against the backdrop of the 1980s, when fewer options were available to system designers and many of the present-day security concerns had not yet surfaced. But given that Dutch democracy now completely depends on his technology, the fact that Groenendaal’s 2006 viewpoints on security are so far removed from the general consensus in the computer security community is cause for concern.

What is funny in relation to this quote is that the secret keystroke sequence to enter maintenance mode on the computer is the word GEHEIM. yes, you got it, SECRET in Dutch. Oh man!

btw Nedap, the main contractor and hardware builder is a key supplier of RFID technology and look-alikes, such as door openers, theft detecting gates and even cow-labels, so the computer can identify the feeding animal and dispensing the calculated foodstuff.

Update: Things are seriously heating up now, commercial television on the 5th, public radio on the 10th. Denial mode from the administration and the manufacturer is slowly coming around. And more facts are popping up. Random selection:

  1. In Amsterdam, election officials were being instructed by a private party. In essence, the administration has outsourced the elections (and has no way to verify them).
  2. A court case is being prepared by the foundation I mentioned above.
  3. They are also organizing for people to go cast their vote in the last 10 municipalities in the country that still vote using red pencil and paper (one can by law change voting office).
  4. I personally asked questions in writing to my local municipality, no response yet.
  5. I will have a remark made in the official report of my local voting office, which I urge any Dutch reader to do. It is secured in the law, see above mentioned website.

No worries, I will keep on breathing.

Update: Oy oy. International interest kicking in.

Update: One of the two machine types (SDU, that used a wireless modem, eeww!) has been disapproved by the government. Amongst others, Amsterdam is going to vote with pencil and paper.

October 8th, 2006

The violence against women

Spread the word please.

Did you know 1 in 2 women murdered are killed by their male partners during an ongoing abusive relationship?

October 5th, 2006

EAT THE RICH

“Eat the Rich” was a popular phrase among some in the 1960s and the phrase was revived on t-shirts worn by anarchists in the 1980s. While it’s certainly a bastardization of the phrase I can’t help but think, “Eat the Republicans.” Don’t worry though, there’s no need to dive into the “red state mavens” with a knife and fork because the Republicans are eating themselves. After a decade of heavy handed tactics keeping their cadre “in line” the Republican Party is crumbling in front off us. Consider, for example, Alaska’s U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s stated opposition to The “new” Patriot Act. Lisa’s “claimed” opposition to The Patriot Act went south when it came down to a vote in The Senate; the corporate media told us that senior Republican whips put the screws on Lisa. Our own Sarah Pallin has parlayed her censure by Randy Ruedrich and members of the Alaska Republican Caucus into her current position as the front running canidate for Alaska Governor, handing former U.S. Senator and current Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski, also a Republican, his head on a plate when she devoured him in our most recent primary elections. Now too, the National Republican Party elite are eating their own (Hastert, Foley, et al.) in a sacrificial bloodfest with the hope that voters will allow them to continue feeding at the corporate trough.

I am unabashedly giddy watching the Republicans eat themselves; I have not had this much fun as a voyeur since Nixon resigned (was almost impeached). A Republican friend of mine has suggested that I should not be so gleeful because of the levels of government that this has affected – nonsense I told him, it couldn’t happen to a worse bunch of swine. After destroying our countries reputation in the world, severely damaging our ability to really protect ourselves from threats (both foriegn and domestic), and raiding our treasury to line their own pockets by throwing tenderloins to their corporate cronies, most certainly at our expense, I hope that Republican pols pick their own bones clean so that we don’t have to pounce on them with steely knives and forks to keep them from rising up from the dead to do even more damage to the people of the United States and the world.

P.S. predictions: It will be found out that Republican Rep. Foley did more than send suggestive erotic messages about penises to 16 year old pages; and that many members of The House and Senate (Republicans and Democrats) have known what Foley was doing for quite some time. The Press will not report that others in The Congress also legislated standards for us that they did not feel they needed to follow.

October 3rd, 2006

The children are the future

As a father I cannot help but see a sad relationship between

  1. The shooting in the Amish school (the shooter was “mad at life and God”);
  2. The pope accused of being involved in a cover up of sexual misbehavior. An instructional letter from his hand  a decade or two ago didn’t even mention victims, except they should be sworn to secrecy;
  3. The laws in the US regarding guns (pretty liberal) forbidding sex toys (pretty strict).
October 2nd, 2006

Bill Moyers to dig into corruption on PBS – maybe we could get him to visit Alaska?

This Wednesday at 8 pm Anchorage PBS station KAKM will air Bill Moyers latest investigation into the Abramoff Lobbying Scandal.

Portions of “Moyers on America: Capital Crimes” as well as an interview with Moyers were aired today on Democracy Now. It’s worth a listen and I’ll certainly go looking for a TV to watch on Wednesday night.

October 2nd, 2006

Ignorance is bliss

A friend sent me this quote (and link). In 1989 Frank Zappa, appearing on Arsenio Hall’s TV show, said, “Let’s not be too rough on our own ignorance, I mean, after all it’s the thing that makes America great. Because if we weren’t incomparably ignorant, how could we have tolerated the last eight years?” Frank was of course referring to “The Reagan Years.” Too bad he didn’t survive to witness the last eight years. You can watch Frank, via You Tube:

The late, great, Frank Zappa appearing on the Arsenio Hall show in 1989.

|