Saturday, December 24, 2005

The 12 Days of Christmas

"From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England could not practice their faith openly, so they found other ways to pass along their beliefs. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" became a kind of code song in which each of the gift items represented some aspect of their belief. Thus, the song became a way for young Roman Catholics to learn about their religion and to witness to it.

On the _____ day of Christmas MY TRUE LOVE gave to ME: (The "true love" was, of course, God and the "me" who receives each of these gifts was the Christian.)

  1. The "partridge in the pear tree" was Christ who died on the tree as a gift from God.
  2. The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments, also gifts.
  3. The "three French hens" were faith, hope and love, the three abiding gifts of the spirit (1 Corinthians 13).
  4. The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which "sing" of salvation.
  5. The "five gold rings" were the first five books of the Bible.
  6. The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation.
  7. The "seven swans a-swimming" were the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4:10-11).
  8. The "eight maids a-milking" were the eight beatitudes.
  9. The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
  10. The "10 lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
  11. The "11 pipers piping" were the 11 faithful disciples.
  12. The "12 drummers drumming" were the points of the Apostles' Creed.


Santa and Google Earth

Official Google Blog reports The Google Earth team has received a pretty interesting business development inquiry that we thought we'd share with you:

To: "Google Support"
Subject: Naughty or Nice Layer

I love Google Earth and have been planning a big trip with it. Now I'm wondering if you've ever thought about licensing data layers for "nice" and "naughty." If interested, I've got a really good list -- I've checked it twice. Rooftop accurate data!

Let me know,
S. Claus

They did not take him up on the naughty/nice layers, but if you have Google Earth installed you can track Santa's progress via Santa Radar


Friday, December 23, 2005

One in Five Blogs Is Spam

Ad Week reports While 80,000 blogs may be created every day, about one in five is spam, according to new research. Umbria Communications, a Boulder, Colo.-based consumer-generated media monitor, found that 2.7 million out of 20.3 million blogs are spam, or splogs as they are sometimes known. It estimates between 10 and 20 percent of blogs are spam. Spam blogs are sites created only for marketing purposes, often using stolen content via RSS feeds to trigger keyword-based ads from Google's AdSense and other contextual ad programs.

I certainly don't like Splogs, but I have also found that there are a lot of Spam Websites around (that are not created by blog software), but are just there to respond to key words people search for, and they display a few Google AdSense ads, hoping people will click on them, and then they have additional links to other pages with the same sort of stuff on them.
Splogs "could become a detractor to people using, enjoying and finding value in the blogosphere," said Howard Kaushansky, CEO of Umbria. Umbria examined results in October from three blog search engines—Technorati, IceRocket and BlogPulse—and found them rife with spam sites. On average, 44 of the top 100 results on the engines were spam. For instance, an Apple iPod search turned up splogs in 80 of the top 100 results on IceRocket, and 75 and 71 on BlogPulse and Technorati, respectively.

Research found the splog problem is getting worse. Kaushansky said while many splogs are usually created to boost search engine rankings for sites, they are more frequently created to make money from text ads or affiliate programs. The main culprit often fingered is Google, which has fed the splog problem through its Blogger tool, then made it profitable through AdSense.
I believe AdSense is more of a problem than Blogger.
Blogger's open API made it easier for computer programs to create splogs, Kaushansky said. "We noticed a very strong correlation between the date Blogger opened [its application program interface] and when we saw spam starting to explode," he said.


Nuclear Monitoring of Muslims Done Without Search Warrants In search of a terrorist nuclear bomb, the federal government since 9/11 has run a far-reaching, top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses, plus similar sites in at least five other cities, U.S. News has learned.

Good for them. I hope they expand the program.

In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program. Some participants were threatened with loss of their jobs when they questioned the legality of the operation, according to these accounts. Federal officials familiar with the program maintain that warrants are unneeded for the kind of radiation sampling the operation entails, but some legal scholars disagree.
We need to get a list of those that disagree, and move them all to a nuclear waste dump and let them guard it.


Power We Didn't Grant

Tom Daschle wrote in WaPo In the face of mounting questions about news stories saying that President Bush approved a program to wiretap American citizens without getting warrants, the White House argues that Congress granted it authority for such surveillance in the 2001 legislation authorizing the use of force against al Qaeda. On Tuesday, Vice President Cheney said the president "was granted authority by the Congress to use all means necessary to take on the terrorists, and that's what we've done."

As Senate majority leader at the time, I helped negotiate that law with the White House counsel's office over two harried days. I can state categorically that the subject of warrantless wiretaps of American citizens never came up. I did not and never would have supported giving authority to the president for such wiretaps. I am also confident that the 98 senators who voted in favor of authorization of force against al Qaeda did not believe that they were also voting for warrantless domestic surveillance.

On the evening of Sept. 12, 2001, the White House proposed that Congress authorize the use of military force to "deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States." Believing the scope of this language was too broad and ill defined, Congress chose instead, on Sept. 14, to authorize "all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed or aided" the attacks of Sept. 11.

It is interesting that you did not care about acts of terrorism against the US unless initiated by Al Qaeda.
With this language, Congress denied the president the more expansive authority he sought and insisted that his authority be used specifically against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Just before the Senate acted on this compromise resolution, the White House sought one last change. Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words "in the United States and" after "appropriate force" in the agreed-upon text. This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens.
Even though every one of the people on the four planes boarded those planes in the USA.
I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused.

The shock and rage we all felt in the hours after the attack were still fresh. America was reeling from the first attack on our soil since Pearl Harbor. We suspected thousands had been killed, and many who worked in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were not yet accounted for. Even so, a strong bipartisan majority could not agree to the administration's request for an unprecedented grant of authority.
You just said that it was you that refused to add the words. Was it you, or a strong bipartisian majority that could not agree?


Cheney's iPod Takes Top Priority on Extended Flight

ABC News After a four-day overseas trip that took him to four countries in the Middle East, Vice President Dick Cheney really wanted to get his iPod charged for that long return flight to Washington. Since it is his plane, the vice president's iPod took priority and was plugged into one of the only working power outlets on Air Force Two, frustrating reporters who were trying to file stories.

Maybe next time the press will charge the batteries in their laptops before they leave home. Imagine the press thinking it was so important for them to file their stories that they begrudged the VP the use of a power outlet on Air Force II.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Who said there was no war on Christmas?

Frank J is on his honeymoon on a Dinsney tour boat, and blogged .... Being the religious Christian types we are, Sarahk and I have been saying merry Christmas when people wish us happy holidays or season's greeting or whatever else. Some smile and nod, others have just sort of stared at us and froze up like we'd cast an 'Immobulus' spell on them. This was especially true of the Disney crew. We thought it was odd. Then, ths morning we find this that someone slid under the door of our stateroom.

Disney Cruise Guests

This is the joyous holiday season. We hope you are enjoying the season during your stay aboard. We would like to ensure all our guests are comfortable in every way during their time with us but even more so during the holidays.

We want everyone to enjoy this time in whatever way they observe or don't observe holidays during this time of the year. To this end, we have assembled a list of holiday greetings that are least likely to offend others. We request that you use them exclusively or none at all during your journey with us.

Happy Holidays!
Seasons Greetings!
Happy Hannukah!
Wonderful Winter Solstice!
Happy New Year!
Feliz Navidad! (if you are a native Spanish speaker)
What do these idiots think Feliz Navidad translates into in English
Have a Joyous Kwanzaa!
Happy Ramadan!

Thank you for your cooperation. Enjoy your cruise with us.
Your Cruise Director
Jamie Farr
Well, Happy Holicraptacular to you Disney! or Should I say DEM-sney. What kind of leftwing liberal PC muckadoo mindscramble is this? Telling us we can say EVERY possible holiday greeting imaginable EXCEPT for Merry Christmas?

What the freak?

You know what? We've wished everyone we've run into a very merry Christmas ever since we got this piece of trash under the door. See how you like them greetings, Chairman Mouse.


Senate Votes to Extend Patriot Act for 6 Months

WaPo reported A much-debated domestic surveillance law won a reprieve last night when senators agreed to continue it for six months to allow House and Senate negotiators to resume efforts next year to rewrite it for the longer term.

The House and Senate passed different bills, and as is normally the case they had a conference committee to resolve the differences. The House gave the Senate most of what it wanted, and then they approved the compromise the committee came up with. The Senators Filibustering the bill were filibustering what their conference members agreed to; they were spoiled children just wanting everything to be exactly the way they wanted it.
Some top Democratic and Republican senators said they were confident the House would agree to the compromise to prevent major provisions of the USA Patriot Act from expiring on Dec. 31. The Senate approved the extension on a voice vote.

Critics say the proposed four-year renewal, which the House approved last week, is too slanted in the government's favor regarding national security letters and special subpoenas that give the FBI significant leeway in obtaining records. The targeted people should have a greater opportunity to challenge such subpoenas and the government should be required to show stronger evidence linking the items being sought to possible terrorism, they say.
In other words the Senate only wants to stop certain terrorists; they are willing to allow some get through and kill Americans. Let us just hope that they ones the let through decide to attack the Senate.
Now they have more time to press their case in the bill's rewrite.


Judges on Surveillance Court To Be Briefed on Spy Program

WaPo The presiding judge of a secret court that oversees government surveillance in espionage and terrorism cases is arranging a classified briefing for her fellow judges to address their concerns about the legality of President Bush's domestic spying program, according to several intelligence and government sources.

That is fine, but if the information subsequently is printed in NYT or WaPo, I want the judges arrested, along with the reporters writing the story.
Several members of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said in interviews that they want to know why the administration believed secretly listening in on telephone calls and reading e-mails of U.S. citizens without court authorization was legal. Some of the judges said they are particularly concerned that information gleaned from the president's eavesdropping program may have been improperly used to gain authorized wiretaps from their court.
This is probably a good reason to avoid the FICA court. They are more worried about making sure it is admissable in court than preventing terror attacks.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Satellite Spying on Americans

Michelle Malkin blogged My column today covers the civil liberties absolutists' hindsight hypocrisy and selective uproar over the NSA's surveillance of communications between suspected al Qaeda operatives and their contacts. I note the silence of the New York Times and the privacy crusaders over a report last week that military spy satellites were used to monitor suspects after the Oklahoma City bombing:

Funny enough, another story about unprecedented domestic spying measures broke a week before the Times's stunt. But neither the Times, nor the ACLU, nor the Democrat Party leadership had a peep to say about the reported infringements on Americans' civil liberties.... According to the McCurtain Daily Gazette, in the days after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the U.S. government used a spy satellite to gather intelligence on a white separatist compound in Oklahoma.... The Left believes the government should do whatever it takes to fight terrorists--­but only when the terrorists look like Timothy McVeigh. If you're on the MCI Friends and Family plan of Osama bin Laden and Abu Zubaydah, you're home free.
Meanwhile, a sane Democrat lawyer who served in the Clinton administration supports President Bush's legal position on the post-9/11 electronic surveillance program.

John Hinderaker wants a reply from the NYTimes reporters.

What Bush did was authorize listening in on calls between Al Qaeda people in other countries and people in their cells here in the US. The white separatist compound in Oklahoma Clinton spied on is totally within the US (in fact it is close to the geographic center of the US).


Jihad is 'Muslim obligation'

Scotsman reported A lawyer defending al Qaida-linked suspects standing trial for the 2003 suicide bombings in Istanbul told a court that jihad, or holy war, was an obligation for Muslims and his clients should not be prosecuted. "If you punish them for this, tomorrow, will you punish them for fasting or for praying?"

Fasting and Praying are two of the Five Pillars of Islam. Suicide bombing and other acts of terrorism are not included.
Osman Karahan -- a lawyer representing 14 of the 72 suspects -- asked during a nearly four-hour speech in which he read religious texts from an encyclopedia of Islam. The November 2003 blasts targeted two synagogues, the British Consulate and the local headquarters of the London-based HSBC bank, killing 58 people. The Arabic word jihad can mean holy war among extremists in addition to its definition as the Islamic concept of the struggle to do good.
Which is the meaning Allah intended for the word.
Karahan spoke for three hours at the court in Istanbul. "If non-Muslims go into Muslim lands, it is every Muslim's obligation to fight them," Karahan said.
And what about when Muslims go into Non-Muslim lands, like the United States, Britain, Europe, Australia, etc. Is it the non-Muslim's duty to fight them?
A panel of three judges for the fiercely secular Turkish Republic listened to Karahan patiently, without speaking, as the defence lawyer read from four thick file folders.


Alaska oil drilling myths

Ben Lieberman wrote in Washington Times Drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) makes so much sense, it's no wonder opponents must twist the facts to make it controversial. Yesterday, at last, common sense prevailed when the House passed by 308-106 a bill to authorize development of ANWR.

Why couldn't they have just passed the budget reconciliation act where the Senate had already approved ANWR drilling?
We're talking about 10 billion barrels of domestic oil in an area where there has been a proven track record for environmentally responsible drilling. Yet a host of tall tales from environmental activists and like-minded journalists has made it a tough fight in Washington.
What they should have done is just insisted on the drillers using the environmentally sensitive techniques they have said they will use.
The current action in Congress involves adding ANWR drilling to the defense appropriations bill. Given continued high oil prices and political turmoil in many oil-producing nations, now seems to offer a good chance to get ANWR done. But this will finally occur only if the ANWR myths are exposed. Here are several:
  • ANWR drilling would harm the environment. Some perspective is helpful to understand the ecological insignificance of ANWR drilling. ANWR comprises 19 million acres in Northeast Alaska, 17.5 million of which are totally off-limits to drilling or any other kind of economic activity. This is why the news footage showing beautiful snowcapped mountains is misleading, because the drilling would not be allowed anywhere near those areas. Only the flat and featureless coastal plain would be affected, and even there only a small portion of its 1.5 million acres. The current version of the bill limits the surface disturbance to 2,000 acres, a small piece of a big coastal plain in a very big wildlife refuge in the biggest state in the Union.
    An area more like the size of a postage stamp on a huge sheet of paper.
  • Oil wells would despoil one of the few remaining pristine places. Again, the vast majority of ANWR will be completely unaffected by drilling. It would occur only on a small part of the coastal plain where there already is some human habitation. There are plenty of truly pristine places in Alaska worth preserving, but ANWR's coastal plain isn't one of them. As it is, Alaska has 141 million acres of protected lands, an area equal to the size of California and New York combined.
  • Drilling is incompatible with National Wildlife Refuges. Drilling critics have tried to confuse wildlife refuges with national parks, wilderness areas and other more highly protected categories of federal lands. But national wildlife refuges typically allow limited mining, logging, drilling, ranching or other activities. Indeed, the statute creating ANWR contemplated future oil production on the coastal plain, subject to congressional approval. It is worth noting that another wildlife refuge in Alaska, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, has had drilling onsite for decades. The oil production there rarely makes the news because it has not caused any problems, even though Kenai has far more wildlife than ANWR.
  • Oil development harms local wildlife. An extensive track record proves otherwise. In addition to Kenai, Alaska has oil drilling in the Prudhoe Bay field, only 55 miles west of ANWR. Prudhoe Bay has produced more than 10 billion barrels of oil since the 1970s, which has been transported through the Alaska pipeline to the domestic market in the Lower 48 states. Decades of studies show this oil production has affected the environment negligibly. Environmental opponents of drilling cannot cite a single species driven toward extinction or even a decline in numbers attributable to Prudhoe Bay. That drilling also was done with decades-old technology and methods far less environmentally sensitive than ANWR would require.
  • Caribou herds will be devastated. Environmentalists have been particularly excessive in predicting dire harm to the herd of caribou that migrate through ANWR. But the caribou migrating through Prudhoe Bay have increased from 3,000 to 23,000 since drilling began in 1977.
  • Alaskans oppose ANWR drilling. In fact, polls regularly show 75 percent or more of Alaskans support drilling. This includes the native Alaskans who live near the potential drilling site. But the few who oppose drilling get most of the media attention. Alaskans know firsthand that resource extraction can co-exist with environmental protection. They also know how silly are the environmental gloom-and-doom predictions: They have heard such nonsense for decades.
If the average American, and his or her representative in Congress, knew the facts as well as the average Alaskan, ANWR drilling wouldn't be controversial. Fortunately, it's not too late for the Senate to join the House's common-sense step and boost domestic oil supplies by allowing ANWR drilling.


4 GOP Senators

Charles Babington wrote in WaPo 4 GOP Senators Hold Firm Against Patriot Act Renewal

This makes it sound like it is the Republicans who are blocking renewal. I certainly despise what Larry E. Craig (Idaho), Chuck Hagel (Neb.), John E. Sununu (N.H.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) are doing, but don't forget, all but two Democrats are also responsible for the filibuster against the Patriot Act.

The Senate passed its version of the renewal of the Patriot Act, and the House passed its version. A conference committee met and agreed on a compromise, giving the Senate almost all it wanted. The House approved the conference report, and went home for Christmas. The Democrats in the Senate, helped by four traitors from the Republican side of the aisle, are blocking approval of the compromise the conference committee came up with.


Our Domestic Intelligence Crisis

Richard A. Posner wrote in WaPo We've learned that the Defense Department is deeply involved in domestic intelligence (intelligence concerning threats to national security that unfold on U.S. soil). The department's National Security Agency has been conducting, outside the framework of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, electronic surveillance of U.S. citizens within the United States.

WaPo fact checkers better start reading Mr. Posner's column a little closer. The National Security Agency is not a part of the Defense Department. Under the new reorganization many DoD intelligence functions were placed under the control of the NID, along with NSA and CIA and others, but NSA has never been a part of DoD.


Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls

NYT reported A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say.

If that happened it is unfortunate, and I am happy to see it was apparently accidental. But I am very happy to see the NYT admit that the White House only authorized eavesdropping on International calls.
The officials say the National Security Agency's interception of a small number of communications between people within the United States was apparently accidental, and was caused by technical glitches at the National Security Agency in determining whether a communication was in fact "international." Telecommunications experts say the issue points up troubling logistical questions about the program. At a time when communications networks are increasingly globalized, it is sometimes difficult even for the N.S.A. to determine whether someone is inside or outside the United States when making a cellphone call or sending an e-mail message. As a result, people that the security agency may think are outside the United States are actually on American soil.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Senate moves toward vote

MarketWatch reported The Senate moved toward final votes Tuesday on two controversial measures to be addressed before it can leave town for the year. The first vote, which may happen later today, is on a package of $40 billion in spending cuts as part of a budget plan. A separate show down vote may take place Wednesday over allowing oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The votes are expected to be so close that Vice President Dick Cheney cut short a trip to the Middle East to return to Washington in case he's needed to break a tie.

The spending measure cuts funding for several entitlement programs. The measure was approved by the House early Monday by a vote of 212-206. The spending cuts would affect Medicare and funding for student loans. Republicans say the cuts are necessary to trim the budget that has been impacted by the costs of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Democrats argue that the cuts will disproportionately affect the poor and the elderly.

We need spending cuts, but we need a lot more than $40B over 5 years.
The budget cut package had been held up over opposition to a provision to allow oil exploration in Alaska. But Congressional Republicans last week moved the ANWR language to a defense spending bill.
That was a mistake. The Senate had already approved ANWR drilling in the budget bill.
Senate Democrats who oppose opening ANWR to drilling were enraged by the tactic and vow to attempt to defeat the measure. The House approved the $453 billion defense bill by a 308-106 vote. Moving the Alaska provision onto the defense bill was "absolutely wrong," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on the Senate floor Monday. Democrats believe putting the Alaska measure on the defense bill is a violation of Senate rules.
I don't know about it being a violation of the Senate rules, but I agree it was absolutely wrong. They should have left it on the budget bill the Senate had already approved.
"If this goes forward, it will be a dark day in the history of the Senate," he said.
Considering how some Senators are behaving, like fillibustering the Patriot Act, which had already been approved by a House/Senate committee, perhaps the Senate needs some dark days.
But getting the votes necessary to block the defense bill may be difficult. It includes popular provisions to help rebuild the hurricane damaged Gulf Coast region.



Silke wote a post on Hooah Wife about McCain forcing Bush to accept his amendment making not just torture, but anything cruel, inhumand, or degrading illegal. A very interesting exchange between the two of has taken place, and I thought I would repeat some of it here, because the commenting system Greta uses does not support bold face vs italic, so it is hard do tsee who said what. Here Bold Face is what I said, italic is what Silke or someone else said.

Don said: Silke, the "Torture" ammendment never was about torture. We do not torture, and never have. McCain's torture ammendment expaned what we won't do to say we also won't do anything cruel, inhumane, or DEGRADING.

Muslims consider it degrading to see a woman in control. Does this mean we now cannot have women participating in questioning? Must all women they see be covered in burkas and must they all act in a subservent manner?

Also the fight never was that the military should conduct degrading interrogations, but must we also ban the CIA from doing something someone might find degrading?

Some say they find it degrading to be wished a Merry Christmas, and others say they find it degrading to be wished Happy Holidays and not be wished Merry Christmas. Since just about anyone can say they find just about anything degrading, do we really want to tie our integrators hands not to do anything degrading?

Silke's comment:
“We do not torture, and never have.”

I guess it all depends on your definition of torture. It appears the CIA has been authorized in its interrogations of non-POWs overseas, to take any steps short of a very narrow Department of Justice definition of “torture.” In addition, we know from the Army’s Schmidt report (which was commissioned in response to FBI allegations of abuses at Guantanamo) that some of the methods used to interrogate high-level Al Qaeda detainees include: keeping the detainee awake for 18-20 hours a day for over 50 consecutive days, forcing the detainee to crawl around on a dog leash to perform dog tricks, menacing the detainee with snarling dogs, and “waterboarding” which is a technique that involves pouring water over a person’s face to bring them to the point of drowning. If this isn’t torture, then it certainly could be considered cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. And what about our rendition policy, basically allowing countries with known records of abuse and torture to interrogate detainees formerly in our custody?

“Also the fight never was that the military should conduct degrading interrogations, but must we also ban the CIA from doing something someone might find degrading?”

I don’t think your examples of degrading treatment apply. I suppose we could go back and forth and try to agree or disagree on a list of acceptable methods of interrogation, but that’s why the McCain Amendment is so important.

The problem with the McCain ammendment is precisely that it does not define what is degrading. This opens it to interpretation and may block things it should not.
It reduces the ambiguity and eliminates the loopholes that some agencies may have been operating under. It also reaffirms our commitment that we do not torture nor do we allow cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

“Since just about anyone can say they find just about anything degrading, do we really want to tie our integrators hands not to do anything degrading?”

I’m not in favor of impeding our interrogators, just giving them clearer guidelines then what they have now.
Which this law does not do.
Don said: keeping the detainee awake for 18-20 hours a day for over 50 consecutive days

I have no problem with sleep deprivation.

forcing the detainee to crawl around on a dog leash to perform dog tricks, menacing the detainee with snarling dogs,

Those are sadistic acts done by a very few on the night shift and they are now in prison themselves

and “waterboarding” which is a technique that involves pouring water over a person’s face to bring them to the point of drowning.

Actually it involves tying the victim to a board with the head lower than the feet so that he or she is unable to move. A piece of cloth is held tightly over the face, and water is poured onto the cloth. Breathing is extremely difficult and the victim will be in fear of imminent death by asphyxiation. However, it is relatively difficult to aspirate a large amount of water since the lungs are higher than the mouth, and the victim is unlikely actually to die if this is done by skilled practitioners.

I would not want our troops doing it, but I have no problem with the CIA doing it. It successfully broke 11 of 12 top al Qaeda, usually in 15 to 30 seconds, and 2 min at the most

If this isn’t torture, then it certainly could be considered cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

It isn't torture. No physical damage is done, no organs are lost, no death occurs. And as I said I would not want our military to do it (even though they are subjected to it in their training). But I would rather have the CIA do it, and retain control of the prisoner, than having to have him turned over to interregators from another country.

And what about our rendition policy, basically allowing countries with known records of abuse and torture to interrogate detainees formerly in our custody?

I would rather retain control of the prisoners, and let the CIA do a few things, like water boarding, short of torture than turn them over for real torture.

brainhell's comment:
I would rather retain control of the prisoners [rather] than turn them over for real torture.

Don, you said before that we don't torture. Surely you're not saying we knowingly send prisoners to other countries to be tortured? How does that differ?

Don's comment:
Don, you said before that we don't torture.

We don't. Not just because it is wrong, but because it seldom gets reliable information, and our people don't want to do it.

But there are many techniques short of torture that do get results, and are much kinder than techniques used by some of our allies.

Surely you're not saying we knowingly send prisoners to other countries to be tortured?

No I am saying we sometimes send prisoners to our allies, and we cannot control what they do to them.

How does that differ?

Let us say a team of American and Pakastaini soldiers take someone prisoner. They ask "are you going to be able to get him to answer your questions." And we say "well we cant be cruel to him, or do anything he might find degrading, but we can say pretty please will you tell us what you plan",
I should have added, we can also threaten to withhold their desert if they won't tell us
and the Pakastaini says "why dont you just let us question him"

Silke's comment: Dogs were also used at Guantanamo, as documented in the Schmidt report.
They certainly have guard dogs, and Muslims dont like dogs, but I believe most of the abuses took place with the night crew in Iraq.
As for “waterboarding”, making someone feel like they are drowning sounds like torture to me, but at the very least it is definitely cruel and inhumane. And it doesn’t matter who does it, it’s wrong.
It is not torture, because it does not lead to death, just the fear of it, and it definitely gets results. I would not want our soldiers doing it (even though it is done to them during training), but I would rather let our CIA do it than have to send the prisoner to another country.
As for our rendition policy – it was specifically developed to circumvent our own laws against torture. You say we cannot control what our allies do to prisoners we send to them. That’s the whole point. But if we truly wanted to control it we just wouldn’t send them in the first place.
I agree. But we need the answers. Either we need to be able to use interrogation procedures that might be a bit cruel, or we need to let others do the interrogation using methods we cannot control. We have to have answers. These Muslims want to cut our heads off (which is a lot crueler than thinking you might drown when you are in no danger of doing so.
I was an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army for six years. From my experience (limited thought it may be) these aggressive interrogation techniques don’t work.
Did you try waterbording? It worked 11 times out of 12.
After a certain point, detainees will tell you whatever you want to hear (whether it’s true or not). The trick is to determine which lawful approach (and there are quite a few) works for each individual and let human nature do the rest. I just cannot condone some of the practices that have been used.
I don't like some of them either.
The fact that we differ so much on our definitions of “cruel, inhumane and degrading” treatment just confirms the need for the McCain amendment.
Muslims say being interrogated by a female is degrading, because a female should not be in a position of power over a male. Thus when you worked as in intelligence officer you were doing something the prisoner thought was degrading. Should McCain prevent female integrators?


FBI Papers Show Terror Inquiries Into PETA; Other Groups Tracked

WaPo reported FBI counterterrorism investigators are monitoring domestic U.S. advocacy groups engaged in antiwar, environmental, civil rights and other causes, the American Civil Liberties Union charged yesterday as it released new FBI records that it said detail the extent of the activity. The documents, disclosed as part of a lawsuit that challenges FBI treatment of groups that planned demonstrations at last year's political conventions, show the bureau has opened a preliminary terrorism investigation into People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the well-known animal rights group based in Norfolk.

Glad they are keeping an eye on them. Some labs have been broken into, animals released, and PETA was written on the walls.
The papers offer no proof of PETA's involvement in illegal activity. But more than 100 pages of heavily censored FBI files show the agency used secret informants and tracked the group's events for years, including an animal rights conference in Washington in July 2000, a community meeting at an Indiana college in spring 2003 and a planned August 2004 protest of a celebrity fur endorser. The documents show the FBI cultivated sources such as a "well insulated" PETA insider, who attended the 2000 meeting to gain credibility "within the animal rights/Ruckus movements."
So they "cultivated sources" inside the movement. Good for them. I hope they know insiders in other organizations as well.
The FBI also kept information on Greenpeace and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the papers show.
Fantastic. I particularly hope they are cultivating contacts inside some of the Islamic organizations.
The disclosure comes amid recent revelations about the extent of domestic spying by the government after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Those disclosures include the expansion within the United States of military intelligence and databases covering, among others, peace activists; increased use of "national security letters" by the FBI to examine personal records of tens of thousands of citizens; and, most recently, warrantless eavesdropping of overseas telephone calls and e-mails by U.S. citizens suspected of ties to terrorists.



Jonathan Alter wrote in Newsweek Finally we have a Washington scandal that goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power.

Or at least Newsweak would have you think so. Newsweak is the magazine that ran the cover story on Bush in the Bubble, when the truth is shown by this
President Bush came out swinging on Snoopgate—he made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda
Which is true.
—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
Who is one of the two most honored Presidents.
No wonder Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
They did not use FISA, but FISA clearly states that it is not the only way by which international calls may be monitered. It is simply one way that can be used.
I learned this week that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story. The Times will not comment on the meeting, but one can only imagine the president’s desperation.
If your imagination was true, wouldn't you think the NYT would have mentioned it when they ran their story?
The problem was not that the disclosures would compromise national security, as Bush claimed at his press conference. His comparison to the damaging pre-9/11 revelation of Osama bin Laden’s use of a satellite phone, which caused bin Laden to change tactics, is fallacious; any Americans with ties to Muslim extremists—in fact, all American Muslims, period—have long since suspected that the U.S. government might be listening in to their conversations.
But they did not know he was. Osama probably knew they might be listening in to satellite phones, but he did not discontinue using it until WaPo exposed it in 1998.
Bush claimed that “the fact that we are discussing this program is helping the enemy.” But there is simply no evidence, or even reasonable presumption, that this is so.
At least nothing that would persade a publication that has done as much, if not more, to hurt the President than the New York Times has (and that is really saying something).
And rather than the leaking being a “shameful act,” it was the work of a patriot inside the government who was trying to stop a presidential power grab.
Persidential Power Grabs occur when the president seeks power to help himself; in this situation he was using the power to do his job, i.e. protect the country from IslamoTerrorists seeking to communicate with their cells in the USA.
No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had “legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force.” But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law. And the post 9/11 congressional resolution authorizing “all necessary force” in fighting terrorism was made in clear reference to military intervention.
So is Newsweak suggesting the NSA nees to be a part of the Department of Defense.
It did not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in any area in the name of fighting terrorism.



I don't remember that much about exactly why they revealed it, but the Washington Post certainly did the IslamoTerrorists a favor when it revealed back in 1998 that we could listen in to Osama Bin Laden's cell phone. But the damage it did cannot be compared to the damage the New York Times did when it suddenly ran a story it had withheld running for over a year regarding NSA wiretaps of AlQaeda communication. I don't know whether they did it just to promote a book the story's author has coming out next year, or whether they did it to disrupt the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, but I wish they had given some thought to a big hole in the ground in lower Manhattan where two buildings used to stand, and where 3,000 people used to work.

Were the intercepts legal? I am sure that will come out over the next few months. But one thing is certain, they certainly were doing a good job. We have not been hit since 9/11 on our land, while there have been many IslamoTerrorist attacks in Europe and Asia. And we certainly have uncovered a number of Al Qaeda cells here in the United States. If the intercepts were not legal, I feel sure the Congress will make any necessary changes to the law to make them legal, but will those new laws be effective? Has the NYT now told the IslamoTerrorists what we have been doing, and will they not change their communication procedures to find some other way of communicating with their cells?

As an editorial in the WSJ indicated:

The allegation of Presidential law-breaking rests solely on the fact that Mr. Bush authorized wiretaps without first getting the approval of the court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. But no Administration then or since has ever conceded that that Act trumped a President's power to make exceptions to FISA if national security required it. FISA established a process by which certain wiretaps in the context of the Cold War could be approved, not a limit on what wiretaps could ever be allowed.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. FISA is certainly one tool he could have used, but if they have just captured a cell phone in Afganistan or Pakistan, and they see several US numbers, which may well be AlQaeda cells in the US, will that be enough "Probable Cause" to convince a FISA court to let you tap those cells to find out? As William Kristol and Gary Schmitt pointed out in WaPo:
FISA requires the attorney general to convince the panel that there is "probable cause to believe" that the target of the surveillance is an agent of a foreign power or a terrorist. Yet where is the evidence to support such a finding? Who knows why the person seized in Pakistan was calling these people? Even terrorists make innocent calls and have relationships with folks who are not themselves terrorists.

The difficulty with FISA is the standard it imposes for obtaining a warrant aimed at a "U.S. person" -- a U.S. citizen or a legal alien: The standard suggests that, for all practical purposes, the Justice Department must already have in hand evidence that someone is a problem before they seek a warrant.
Civil Libertarians would say if all you have is a phone number, that is not enough proof the number belongs to a bad person. Maybe it is just the number for a local Pizza Takeout. I doubt very many Pizza Takeout stores here in the US deliver to Pakistan, but what does it hurt if the listen in the next time someone from overseas calls that number, or someone from that number calls overseas? As far as I know, they are not going to listen in the next time you call that number to order a Pepperoni with extra cheese, at least without presenting evidence to some court that the Pizza store may be involved with delivering more that Pizza. As John Hinderaker at Power Line said:
Under the circumstances we face in dealing with the terrorist threat, is it unreasonable--the Constitutional standard--to begin immediately intercepting calls being made to a captured terrorist cell phone, whether those calls originate in the U.S. or another country? Of course not.
And as Hugh Hewitt pointed out:
Micelle Malkin, after listing a long set of links to the great number of people who have argued that the president has the authority to order surveillance of foreign powers in communication with American citizens:
Now, go back and look carefully through the Times article. The reporters who have been so assiduously working on the story for at least a year couldn't find a single, non-anonymous expert in national security and the law to come up with the kind of informed analysis that took legal and counterterrorism bloggers three days to research and post.

How pathetic is that?
There are those who take a different, thopugh I think wrong, view, and the paper's job is to present both sets of views. (In my first of five posts on the subject, I pointed readers to a blog that was insisting on the program's illegality.) The refusal to do so in a comprehensive fashion is the core disability in most of left-wing MSM, the reason why the collective reputation of the old, elite media has cratered, why subscription rates fall and fall again, and why advertisers are increasingly turning to new media to find the huge nad growing audience that simply won't touch the usual suspects.


Texas to get broadband over its power lines

CNET News reports Two Texas companies have announced a plan to offer high-speed Internet service over the power grid. The plan was announced on Monday by Current Communications Group, a service provider that specializes in broadband service over power lines (BPL), and TXU Electric Delivery, the largest electric company in Texas. The companies estimate that roughly 2 million homes and businesses in northern Texas will be able to subscribe to the new service when the network is complete. Current Communications--which has built a similar network over Cincinnati's power lines with local utility company Cinergy--will design, build and operate the new broadband network. Deployments will begin in 2006, the companies said.... Service speeds and pricing details haven't been released, but Current said the network will have enough capacity to offer customers a "triple play" package, which would include telephony, TV service and high-speed Internet access. Users will be able to access the high-speed broadband network by plugging a device into an electrical outlet in the wall.

The Telephone company has gotten upset when various cities offerrd or suggested offering Free WiFi, imagine what they are going to say about this.

We are already faced here in Tulsa with our Cable provider strongly pushing its Telephone service so that it can provide Cable TV, Broadband, and phone service, and Southwestern Bell pushing its satellite TV service and DSL so it can provide all three. Imagine what the market would be like if PSO (the local power company) also wanted to provide all three services.

Personally I dont like one provider providing all three. I believe Cox's Digital Cable is far superior to Satellite TV (better in storms, and less expensive when you consider hidden fees), and their Broadband is much faster and technicians much better trained than Bell's DSL service. But I would not give them my phone service. How would I call in and report an outage during the rare, but still non-zero times when the cable service goes out? The same problem would happen if Bell or the power company provided all three services.


One Billion Internet Users

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox noted Some time in 2005, we quietly passed a dramatic milestone in Internet history: the one-billionth user went online.

Welcome to Cyberspace.
Because we have no central register of Internet users, we don't know who that user was, or when he or she first logged on. Statistically, we're likely talking about a 24-year-old woman in Shanghai. According to Morgan Stanley estimates, 36% of Internet users are now in Asia and 24% are in Europe. Only 23% of users are in North America, where it all started in 1969 when two computers -- one in Los Angeles, the other in Palo Alto -- were networked together.
According to this site the population of North America is 325 million, and 23% of 1B is 230M, so about 2 in 3 in NA are in Cyberspace. The population of Europe is 729 Million, and 24% of 1B is 240M, so about 1 in 3 in Europe are in Cyberspace. The population of Asia is 3.8 Billion, and 36% of 1B is 360, so only about 1 in 10 Asians are in Cyberspace.
It took 36 years for the Internet to get its first billion users. The second billion will probably be added by 2015; most of these new users will be in Asia. The third billion will be harder, and might not be reached until 2040. In 2002, NUA estimated that we had 605 million Internet users. Since then, Internet use has grown by 18% per year -- certainly not as fast as the 1990s, but still respectable.


Can Britain Deal With Its Muslim Problem?

Times Online reports Plans to force foreign-born imams to take a “Britishness test” were scrapped yesterday in the second climbdown in less than a week on proposals to tighten scrutiny of mosques.

Why are the British attempts to deal with their Muslim problems being defeated? It appears they are asking the Muslims for permission, and the Muslims are saying no.
The Home Office dropped the idea after opposition from Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Five days ago Tony Blair’s plan to give police the power to close mosques suspected of having extremist links was ditched after opposition from Muslim leaders and the police. The latest retreat came after protests from Muslim leaders and other faiths who objected to a Britishness test being made part of immigration laws. An estimated 85 per cent of the 2,000 imams working in the UK are foreign-born.
I wonder if they are now going to have to back down on other laws because the criminals don't like them.
The climbdown comes despite longstanding concern from senior ministers and the security services that radical imams entering the country from Pakistan and the Middle East are driving young British Muslims to extremists. Under the proposal all foreign-born ministers of religion would have had to sit a test on Britishness after being in the country for two years. The aim was to ensure that they understood the multicultural society in which they preached and provided pastoral care to their communities. It was also intended to answer concern within the Muslim community that some foreign-born imams had little concept of the world in which young British-born Muslims had grown up or the problems they faced.
The point is the imams don't care about British society. They have no interest in being a part of British Society. They want to turn Britain into an Islamic state. Hitler sought to take over Britain by force; the Muslims hope to take it, and the rest of Europe, over from within.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Senate can't make up its mind

CSMonitor reported Early Monday, the House passed a $453.5 billion Defense appropriations bill for fiscal year 2006 and a related Defense authorization bill, as well as nearly $40 billion in government spending cuts over the next five years. The package now faces intense opposition in the Senate, especially an 11th-hour decision by House and Senate negotiators to include in the Defense-spending bill a controversial plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil drilling. Senate Democrats say including the ANWR provision in the Defense bill violates Senate rules and is an abuse of power. They threaten to use all procedural means in Senate rules to block it.

Yet on March 22 we learned the Senators had approved oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) by a vote of 51-49. Knowing they didn't have the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster, pro-drilling Senators tacked the drilling provision onto the filibuster-proof budget resolution proposal for 2006. The House screwed up by not just passing ANWR in the budget bill, but why is the Senate so upset that something they approved earlier has now been approved by the House.

Proponents of ANWR drilling have said over and over that with slant drilling they can produce a large portion of the ANWR field with just a very small surface area drilling area, and that it can be done in an environmentally sound matter. Rather than fighting allowing it being done at all, they should call the bluff of the oil companies and allow drilling, but with a requirement that it be done as they say it can be done, and establishing a firm liability on the part of the oil companies to do it in an environmentally sound matter.


University Administrator vs Holidays

CNSnews reports An administrator at California State University, Sacramento has banned decorations pertaining to Christmas and the 4th of July, among other holidays, from her office because they represent "religious discrimination" and "ethnic insensitivity."

What is there about the 4th of July that could possibly be "religious discrimination" (it is not a religious holiday) or "ethnic insensitivity" (it is a celebration of American Independence from Britain. The term ethnic means of or pertaining to a group of people recognized as a class on the basis of certain distinctive characteristics such as religion, language, ancestry, culture or national origin. Religion is taken care of by our First Amendment. We both speak English (they just spell some words differently), our culture is the same, and as far as ancestry and national origin are concerned, we came from there.
"Time has come to recognize that religious discrimination, as well as ethnic insensitivity to certain holidays, is forbidden," Patricia Sonntag, director of the Office of Services to Students with Disabilities, stated in the directive she e-mailed to members of her staff on Dec. 9.... The memo specifically names Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentine's Day, the 4th of July, St. Patrick's Day and Easter as the most offensive holidays, but Sonntag adds that they are "off the top of the list," implying that there may be others.
Christmas is apparently forbidden because only 80% of Americans are Christians. Thanksgiving is a little harder to understand: Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc all have someone or something to issue prayers for Thanks to. I guess if we are going to forbid celebrating the birth of Christ, it is good not to celebrate Halloween, because one might say Satan worshipers focus on it as their holiday (although I think that is foolishness). But what is wrong with Valentine's day; what is wrong with love. And what is wrong with the 4th of July? It does a good job keeping the 3rd of July separate from the 5th of July, and I don't see any problem with Americans celebrating American Independence Day. St. Patrick's Day is primarilly Irish in nature, but I dont see a problem with it. And as far as Easter is concerned, I still note that 80% of Americans profess to be Christians, and most of the Easter Decorations (bunnies, eggs, etc) have nothing to do with the religious significance of the day.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue called the policy a violation of free speech rights. "It never occurs to these secular supremacists that it is their aversion to anything religious - or patriotic - that accounts for their desire to muzzle free speech."


Hold the Line

The New York Sun editorialized Feature the new line of political attack the left is launching against the White House. It is criticizing the Bush administration for authorizing the government to listen in on telephone and email conversations between America and places such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. And the Democratic Party, in the latest evidence of the bubble-like separation from reality in which the party lives, is working itself into a lather from which it is going to take weeks to recover, if it can recover at all.

I doubt they ever will recover.
Rep. Charles Rangel yesterday sent out a press release headlined, "Rangel Condemns Spying on U.S. Residents." He accused the president of apparently choosing to ignore the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. Senator Feingold called on the Bush administration "to stop this program immediately." The Democratic leader, Senator Reid, and his House counterpart, Nancy Pelosi, also expressed concern.
When your only plan is to try to tear down the administration, it is not surprising they would rally around this. But after passing a law that nnot just forbids torture, but also anything the terrorists feel is degrading, and after boycotting extension of the Patriot Act, rahter than working on reasonable restrictions like the House passed, it appears the Senate must have decided to abandon the United States and support the Islamic Terrorists instead.
Reasonable people may differ over the correct place to draw the line between civil liberties and national security in wartime, but this strikes us as a pretty clear-cut case. The Fourth Amendment states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

At issue is whether the listening in on overseas phone conversations is, in a time of war, "unreasonable." A person is now subject to a warrantless search when boarding an airplane, entering the New York subway system, or even entering the building that houses the office of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Why should an international phone call be inviolate?

Beyond the Fourth Amendment, the law that is said to restrict the Bush administration's activities is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. But, contrary to what you may read in some other newspapers, that law does not require that all such surveillance be authorized by a court. The law provides at least two special exceptions to the requirement of a court order. As FISA has been integrated into Title 50 of the U.S. Code, Chapter 36, Subchapter I, Section 1802, one such provision is helpfully headed, "Electronic surveillance authorization without court order."

This "without court order" was so clear that even President Carter, a Democrat not known for his vigilance in the war on terror, issued an executive order on May 23, 1979, stating, "Pursuant to Section 102(a)(1) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1802(a)), the Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order." He said, "without a court order."
And Echelon was not started under the George W Bush administration.
Now, Section 1802 does impose some conditions, including that "there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party." But the law defines "United States person" somewhat narrowly, so that it would not include illegal aliens or, arguably, those who fraudulently obtained legal status.

And if Section 1802 isn't enough, regard section 1811 of the same subchapter of the United States Code, "Authorization during time of war." It states, "Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period not to exceed fifteen calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress." Again, mark the phrase, "without a court order."

It certainly is the president's view, and ours, that Congress's declarations following September 11 formalized the state of war that was brought to us by our enemies. It will no doubt be debated whether the 15-day period is renewable. It is clear, though, that under the definitions included in the Act, "Foreign intelligence information" may include information concerning a United States person that is necessary not only to "the national defense or the security of the United States," but even merely to "the conduct of the foreign affairs of the United States."

We are particularly encouraged by the suggestions in Mr. Bush's radio address over the weekend that he has been relying, at least in part, on his constitutional powers - and responsibilities - as commander in chief and that he sees the constitutional authority as trumping the restrictions of FISA. Wouldn't it be nice to see that sorted out by the Roberts-Scalia-Thomas wing of the Supreme Court? Certainly the drift we discern in the court so far - not to mention also back during, say, World War II - is that it isn't going to permit the opponents of the war to stand on ceremony.

America is in a war with Islamic extremists who are trying to defeat our country. "Two of the terrorist hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf al Hamzi and Khalid al Mihdhar, communicated while they were in the United States to other members of al Qaeda who were overseas," Mr. Bush said in his radio address. "But we didn't know they were here, until it was too late." The president said the activities he authorized by the National Security Agency "make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time."

The idea that this is shocking is an idea that has stranded the Democrats in the wilderness. The managing editor of this newspaper has long kept a Cold War-era poster above his telephone with the warning, "Most telephone circuits are not secured. Keep telephone conversations unclassified." Anyone who thinks that non-encrypted international phone or e-mail conversations are secure had to have been naive to begin with. But terrorists are sometimes naive, or careless.

The majority of Americans, we're confident, are grateful to Mr. Bush for setting the listening in motion and hope it succeeds in preventing another attack like the one on September 11, 2001. If this listening were not happening, it'd be a scandal. You don't even need a wiretap to predict that the same partisan Democrats who are now denouncing the president for supposedly infringing on civil liberties would be denouncing him for failing to take the steps necessary to protect us.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Silence Of The Blogs

Forbes reported Popular subscription-based blogging service TypePad went offline on Friday, delaying updates to thousands of sites. Users of the system were unable to post new stories, and posts written in the last week disappeared entirely. The shutdown occurred late Thursday night as Six Apart was increasing redundancy on its disk storage. "It's kind of like lightning striking. At the point where we were adding redundancy, it goes down," says Six Apart Vice President Anil Dash. "It was a one-in-a-million hardware problem."

That is the problem with adding redundancy to an established system. There may be a point in time when a failure could really cripple you, yet if the failure had happened either earlier or later, it would have been handled.
No posts have been permanently lost, and missing items should be restored shortly, he says. Dash would not say how many users the outage had affected, saying only that it had hit millions of Web pages and thousands of users. By Friday evening the service appeared to be up and working, but missing blog posts had not yet been restored.

A blogger who calls herself "Snowball" was one of them, and says the outage and the way it was handled are causing her to think about switching hosts for her site The Adventures of A Snowball In Hell. "TypePad did nothing to notify subscribers and has not attempted to communicate in any way," says Snowball, who preferred not to give her real name.
What did you expect them to tell you? The system was down? You knew that. When it would be up? No one knew that, and any time taken trying to predict when it would be restored, would take resources away from actually restoring service, which I am sure the technicians were doing as quickly as they could.
"It's mostly affected me by increasing my already ripe irritation with a system that is falling far short of the expectations of those of us who have been there from the beginning…I'm seriously considering moving my blog to [pMachine, Inc.'s] Expression Engine, no matter what sort of compensation they offer."
A personal license for Expression Image is $100 (commercial is $250), and it is not clear that includes hosting, and if it does, is that hosting any more redundant than Type Pad's $50 for a basic blog, $150 for Pro version, plus hosting charges?



The Register reports Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has been shot dead, according to Wikipedia, the online, up-to-the-minute encyclopedia.

Apparently, the assassin was a "friend" of the victim of a recent controversy which ironically, smeared former Robert F Kennedy aid John Seigenthaler as a suspect in the assassination of both Kennedy brothers. That claim, which the site carried for several months, along with the assertion that Seigenthaler had lived in Russia, was eventually proved false.

Clearly this is another example of how easy it is to enter false information in Wikipedia. Yet Paul Jacob has a very interesting article in Townhall entitled "Hasten slowly: how to change Wikipedia" which suggests we dont want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. As Paul says: Wikipedia, I trust, will be better than ever. Perhaps a bit slower to add information, but also less likely to add misinformation and disinformation. It will be good to step into it again. Anew.