Saturday, December 10, 2005

eBay pulls auction of Excel vulnerability

GameShout reported An online eBay auction was pulled today after a hacker tried to sell a vulnerability of the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program.

At least hackers are now trying to profit from their work, rather than just sending out viruses to hurt people. Maybe they will soon decide to get jobs at virus protection companies.
The hacker went by the name, "fearwall" and actually had a bid going of under $60. This is a very unusual route to hacker profit making, but the listing was banned and removed by eBay. According to the eBay listing, the zero-day vulnerability in Microsoft Excel had been reported on Tuesday, December 6th. The hacker said, "All the details were submitted to Microsoft, and the reply was received indicating that they may start working on it," wrote the seller. "It can be assumed that no patch addressing this vulnerability will be available within the next few months."

The unpatched vulnerability is in the way that Excel, the popular spreadsheet included in all editions of Microsoft's Office suite, validates the data in some worksheets when it parses files. "The vulnerability can be exploited to compromise a user's PC," claimed the seller. He also took several potshots at Microsoft, saying that the opening bid of $.01 was "a fair value estimation for any Microsoft product" and offered a 10 percent discount to any Microsoft employee who mentioned the discount code "LINUXRULZ."
Another Microsoft hater.
A spokeswoman for Microsoft confirmed that the listing on eBay was for a real bug in Excel. The Microsoft Security Research Center has not been made aware of any attacks attempting to use the vulnerability. Microsoft also said that there were no customer impacts at this time. Microsoft said that researchers were investigating the vulnerability, and might release either a fix or a security advisory in the future.


Firefox 1.5 versus IE 6

Asa Dotzler blogged I've seen a number of articles comparing the currently available Firefox 1.5 with the still not available and probably not released for some time Internet Explorer 7. What's wrong with this picture? Firefox 1.5 should be compared against the competition, not against something that may or may not be released sometime in the future.

An article comparing FF1.5 to IE6 would be unfair. Firefox totally blows IE6 away. A browser with tabbed browsing and live bookmarks compared to one with security holes? It is an unfair comparison.
Where are all the Firefox 1.5 versus IE 6 articles? It does no service to users to tell them how Firefox stacks up against some future offering from Microsoft. How about telling users how Firefox 1.5 stacks up against the outdated, insecure, and difficult browser they're using today? (or if they just have to report about IE 7, then how about comparing it to the equally unreleased Firefox 2 or Firefox 3?)

I guess the browser reviewing press really don't care about actual users who are suffering an increasingly painful and dangerous web. Microsoft announced IE 7 in February of 2005, very nearly a year ago. They claimed at the time that it would be available in the Summer of 2005 and here we are about to enter 2006 with nothing close to a finished browser from Microsoft.
6 months late. Sounds like on-time in Microsoft time.
Why isn't this being reported properly? Why the preferential treatment for Microsoft and such an unwillingness to point out the obvious -- that while Firefox continues to ship high-quality, secure, and usable browsers on a regular basis, Microsoft has left its user base of hundreds of millions of people helpless against a deteriorating web for nearly 5 years.

Was that almost year old announcement of IE 7 just a media strategy by Microsoft to freeze the market, and to goad the press into reporting that Microsoft's current IE 6 browser was a thing of the past?
No they knew their current product could not compete, and it is harder for someone to say how one compares to a puff of smoke and a few mirrors.
Well it's not a thing of the past. There are hundreds of millions of users out there suffering with IE 6, and IE 7 is still who knows how far away from being available (and then only to a fraction of Windows users.)
That is the worst thing about IE7 I can think of; that only some windows users will be able to use it.
In the mean time, Firefox 1.5 is available as a free, safe, and secure alternative for all Windows users today.

Who will step up and write about the real state of browsers today and what users can do to improve their web experience now.

Peter F commented I can't say I'm suffering when I'm using IE6. I was actually suffering whenever I tried Firefox (1.0.7 and 1.5). And I love open source (which is why I gave FF a try). Unexplainable 100% CPU load for ff.exe,
I must admit I have had a few 100% CPU loads with FF, but not as often as before 1.5, when my machine would hang for 5 minutes every reloading all of the live bookmarks; IE never did that, but then it does not support live bookmarks at all.
random crashes, web pages rendered in an ugly way, bloat, takes hours to start up,
I have not seen any random crashes or web pages rendered in an ugly way, although there are a few times when the rendering is not identical to IE, because IE has an older version of CSS support. Versions before 1.5 did take a long time to start up, but that was because they were loading the live bookmarks that IE does not have.
and again bloat
My experience is that Firefox with tabbed windows, uses LESS system resources than an equal number of copies of IE running.
(and no, I had no extensions installed). Opera is great, however, 99% of web sites are compatible and nicely rendered (the way they were intended to) by IE. I'm staying with IE, because it just doesn't suck as much as Firefox does. I'm afraid IE7 and Opera will bury the bloatware called Firefox.


U.S. Delegation Walks Out of Climate Talks

NYT reported Two weeks of treaty talks on global warming neared an end today with the world's current and projected leaders in emissions of greenhouse gases, the United States and China, still refusing to take any mandatory steps to avoid dangerous climate change.

If China and India are not going to be a part of a treaty, and if we are not going to be able to be sure they are doing their part, it is foolish for the US or industralized countries in the west to hurt their economies, just to have China and India pumpind more emissions than we cut back.
The Bush administration was sharply criticized by environmental groups for walking out of a round of informal discussions shortly after midnight that were aimed at finding new ways of curbing gases beyond steps taken so far.


Islamic Society of Boston

NY Sun reports Concern is mounting over the connections between a Boston Islamic group and a high-profile Muslim activist, Abdurahman Alamoudi, after a recent statement by the federal government that Mr. Alamoudi had a "close relationship" with Al Qaeda and that he raised money for Al Qaeda in America.

We must be especially vigilent when it comes to Islamic organizations.
Alamoudi - who is serving a 23-year sentence in federal prison after having pleaded guilty in 2004 to participating in a Libyan plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah - is also a founder of the Islamic Society of Boston. The society is now embroiled in a bitter legal dispute over the society's efforts to build a mosque with the aid of public subsidies.

That lawsuit, according to journalists and terrorism investigators, is part of a larger trend of litigation by Muslim groups that, they say, is having a "chilling effect" on the ability to report domestic ties to terrorism.

In July, Alamoudi was cited in a Treasury Department press release designating the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia, a U.K.-based Saudi oppositionist organization, led by Saad al-Faqih, as providing material support for Al Qaeda. MIRA "received approximately $1 million in funding through Abdulrahman Alamoudi," the statement said.


Butcher of Ramadi

DoD reports The terrorist known as "the Butcher of Ramadi" was detained today, turned in by local citizens in the provincial capital of Iraq's Anbar province, U.S. military officials in Iraq reported.

Good news, just 5 days before the Iraqi elections
Amir Khalaf Fanus -- listed third on a "high-value individuals" list of terrorists wanted by the 28th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team -- was wanted for criminal activities including murder and kidnapping. Ramadi citizens brought him to an Iraqi and U.S. forces military base in Ramadi, where he was taken into custody.

Fanus was well known for his crimes against the local populace. He is the highest-ranking al Qaeda in Iraq member to be turned in to Iraqi and U.S. officials by local citizens.

His capture is another indication that the local citizens tire of the terrorists' presence within their community, Multinational Force Iraq officials said, adding that Iraqi and U.S. forces have witnessed increasing signs of citizens fighting the terrorists in Ramadi as the Dec. 15 national elections draw near.


Friday, December 09, 2005

y.ah.oo!, the social bookmarking service, has joined Yahoo! blog reported We're excited to be working with the Yahoo! Search team - they definitely get social systems and their potential to change the web. (We're also excited to be joining our fraternal twin Flickr!)

Firefox users may want to check out the Firefox extension


Should Israel give up its nukes?

LATimes reported In a sudden attack of common sense, a Pentagon-commissioned study released in mid-November suggests an approach to nuclear nonproliferation in the Middle East that might actually be accepted by the people of the region.

The approach: turn on our only friend in the area, and hope the Arabs will appreciate it.
What is this breakthrough idea? That U.S. policies begin not with a country that currently lacks nuclear weapons — Iran — but rather with the one that by virtually all accounts already has them — Israel.

To avert Iran's apparent drive for nuclear weapons, concludes Henry Sokolski, a co-editor of "Getting Ready for a Nuclear-Ready Iran," Israel should freeze and begin to dismantle its nuclear capability. This and other recommendations emerged from two years of deliberations by experts on the Middle East and nuclear nonproliferation.
Total stupidity. Iran is not developing nuclear weapons in a Mutually Assured Distruction effort to prevent Israel from attacking it. It is developing them because it believe that Israel should not exist, at least not in the Middle East. (They made the stupid suggestion that Israel be moved to Europe). If we persuad Israel to get rid of its nukes, then it will not take many Iranian Nukes to destroy Israel.


Honoring the Threat: Air Marshals and Iran

Gina Cobb blogged An excellent bit of wisdom from Wizbang today titled "Honor the Threat":

"One of the greatest pieces of wisdom I have have ever learned was "honor the threat." If someone or something threatens you, treat that threat as very real and very imminent unless and until proven ineffective.

"Rigoberto Alpizar, who met his untimely end on a jetway in Miami yesterday, made a threat. It was a plausible threat -- he didn't threaten to fire a bazooka at the plane, or to smash the plane with his bare hands -- and was treated as such. And while it may be a sad fact that he was mentally ill, and didn't in fact have a bomb, the air marshal who shot him did exactly the right thing. Mr. Alpizar's death is entirely his own responsibility. If he had merely taken his medication, he'd most likely be alive today, and a lot of people would be trying to find something else to write about."

Here's another threat America had better honor: Iran Only Months from Nuclear Bombs -- and Threatens "Death to America"

Just as the threat from this man turned out to be hollow, Iran's threats may be hollow. Or maybe not. The only prudent course, when innocent lives are at stake, is to honor the threat.
A very good point. And as we learned earlier, Israel can't stop Iran nukes, so we can't count on them to stop Iran like they did Iraq when they took out Iraq's nuclear plant.


Conservative Blogs Rock!

Editor and Publisher reported In an argument sure to be challenged in certain sectors of the blogosphere, a story in The New York Times magazine coming up this Sunday declares that conservative blogs continue to best liberal blogs in political and electoral influence.

Very true, but I am surprised that the Left Wing NYT would admit it.
The title of the piece by Michael Crowley in the magazine’s 5th Annual Year in Ideas cover package says it all: “Conservative Blogs Are More Effective.” Crowley, a New Republic writer, claims that with the 2006 elections approaching, Democrats are now “trying to use blogs more strategically.” But he concludes by embracing the view of Matt Stoller, an activist who ran a blog for Sen. Jon Corzine during his 2005 race for governor of New Jersey, who believes that next year conservative bloggers “will certain have an upper hand.” Crowley adds: “Again.”
That is because conservative bloggers focus on facts; liberal bloggers focus of hate.
He had opened his piece citing a recent example in New Jersey where talk-radio picked up on personal charges against Corzine airing on conservative blogs, which then caused “damage” to the campaign. “To Stoller, it was proof of how conservatives have mastered the art of using blogs as a deadly campaign weapon,” Crowley writes. Yet Corzine won the election easily anyway.
Not all candidates are as rich as Corzine, or as able to spend thier own money.
In fact, Crowley admits that his argument for conservative blog supremacy may seem “counterintuitive,” noting the Howard Dean phenomenon in early 2004 and heavy Web traffic numbers for liberal blogs such as DailyKos. (He does not mention that studies of online traffic show that, overall, there are more highly-popular liberal blogs than conservative ones.)
But a heck of a lot more conservative blogs than liberal ones. Conservatives start their own blogs; liberal are willing to put up with "Diaries" controlled by Kos.
But he explains that “Democrats say there’s a key difference between liberals and conservatives online. Liberals use the Web to air ideas and vent grievances with one another, often ripping into Democratic leaders….Conservatives, by contrast, skillfully use the Web to provide maximum benefit for their issues and candidates.”
Again, liberals just vent hatred, and conservatives discuss facts.
Crowley then comments that what really makes the conservative blogs allegedly more effective is the infrastructure provided by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and others--"all of which are quick to pass on the latest tidbit from the blogosphere."
While the left wing MSM hates all blogs because too many of their own have been exposed by bloggers.
The Times Magazine on Sunday also pays tribute to the Times-PPicayune in New Orleans for its creative use of its Web site after the Katrina disaster.


Newspaper raises money for sex offender

TimesUnion reported In tough times, music remains a source of comfort for Sam Patalino. Only the songs are left from Sam Patalino's days singing in Troy's nightclubs, days that evoke memories of shaking maracas and a dancer named Tangerine.... Patalino, referred to the Times Union Holiday Fund by Colonie's Senior Resources Department, sleeps in the living room. The bedroom he keeps tightly shut to minimize the cost of heat (the home has no insulation). Also, he's behind $258 on the electric bill. Looking at it makes him nervous.

Poynter blogged A 78-year-old man profiled in an Albany Times Union Holiday Fund story on Wednesday was convicted in 1991 of felony first-degree sexual abuse involving a 10-year-old boy. Editor Rex Smith says: "I wish we hadn't spotlighted a sex offender, and we will more carefully screen the names forwarded to us as profile candidates in the future. But I don't think our readers would want us to reserve our charity only for those who are without blemish.''

I can't speak for the fine people in Albany, but I would think that a felony conviction for first-degree sexual abuse involving a 10-year-old boy is a little more than a "blemish".
The Latham 78-year-old acknowledged pleading guilty. He served three months in jail, he said, and then 10 more days after a subsequent arrest for having the boy in his car while on probation. "That's what the public defender told me to do,'' he said when asked why he pleaded guilty if he was innocent. "It wouldn't cause any trouble for (the boy). He wouldn't have to come to court.''
Since when are first degree sex offenders just given three months in jail, and then why are they just given 10 days for having the boy in his car while on probation?


Microsoft Launches Windows Live Local

Clickz reported Microsoft has followed up last month's launch of its Windows Live ad-supported application portal with a beta launch of Windows Live Local.

They have "Bird's Eye View for some large cities, but Tulsa is not included.
Windows Live Local adds some functionality to MSN Local Search, which launched in June. MSN Local had combined Microsoft's Virtual Earth mapping and location platform with city- and region-specific White and Yellow Pages business listings.


$100 Laptops

Reuters reported Schoolchildren in Brazil, Thailand, Egypt and Nigeria will begin receiving the first few million textbook style computers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) media lab run by Nicholas Negroponte from early 2006.... United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has welcomed the development of the small, hand-cranked lime-green devices, which can set up their own wireless networks

The hand crank is interesting for third world areas without electricity in the villages, but how is that crank going to power a wireless internet access? If the village does not have reliable electricity, will it have a broadband internet connection powered by an even bigger crank?
and are intended to bring computer access to areas that lack reliable electricity.
I suspect most third world countries are more concerned with drinkable
water, food to eat, and access to doctors and affordable medicine than laptops and email
Negroponte said at their launch in November the new machines would be sold to governments for schoolchildren at $100 a device but the general public would have to pay around $200
The $100 price is to governments who will buy one for each child. How many governments (1st, 2nd, or 3rd world) will buy a laptop for each child
-- still much cheaper than the machines using Intel's chips. But Barrett said similar schemes in the past elsewhere in the world had failed and users would not be satisfied with the new machine's limited range of programs.


Yahoo undercuts Skype, telcos on voice call rates

CNN Money reported Yahoo said Wednesday a new version of its Yahoo Messenger text, voice and video communications software to be introduced in the next few days will include "Phone Out," with low per-minute charges for calls from computers to phones, and "Phone In," a low-cost subscription service for phone callers to call computer users.

Any company entering the market must do something, like offer lower prices, to be noticed. But will Skype drop its price to compete, or can Yahoo offer its price in the long run?
The world's largest Internet media company said it plans to charge one cent per minute to Yahoo Messenger users calling the United States from, say, Russia, or anywhere else in the world and 2 cents a minute to call 30 other countries including Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Korea.... Yahoo Messenger calls to the United States are half the price of Skype's 2.1 cents per minute. But the Skype rate applies to nearly 30 countries, making it comparable with Yahoo rates.

Russell Shaw blogged on ZDNet Softphone providers are fighting each other over price point, but I don't think the average user cares about whether a call is 1.7 cents a minute or 2 cents a minute. What matters to them is quality of service. How is the connection?

Tarun blogged Why the killer app on VoIP will involve third world countries and SIP - The biggest rise in SIP-based services will be in the third world countries where phone and broadband infrastructure is still being set up.
And it is usually under the control of the government, and they are not likely to make broadband internet available if it will cut into their telephone revenues.
Developed countries will only go mainstream later and USA - being the most developed of all - will probably be the among the last to join the party.

Nic blogged The MIT Media Lab has come up with a project to create an affordable, full-featured portable computer for kids in developing nations. I feel that this is much better than the idea of equipping these kids with connected PDAs - laptops can undoubtedly do more, and there is no contest as to which is more rugged. The usefulness of this laptop is also unquestioned: It can work as a VOIP cellphone for the whole family in addition to its main task as a student’s textbook.
That assumes you have broadband internet access, a BIG assumption in third world countries.


Time for a House-Cleaning

David S. Broder wrote in Townhall The place needs a good scrubbing, and that is what it would get if the leadership were somehow to embrace a set of rules changes put forward this week by several longtime members. But because the authors are Democrats -- and in some cases liberal as well -- the receptivity of the Republicans managing the House is not likely to be great.

A lot of it makes sense.
The four members involved -- David Obey of Wisconsin, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, David Price of North Carolina and Tom Allen of Maine -- held a news conference on Monday at the Center for American Progress to introduce their 14-point plan. It is strong medicine -- a stiff enough dose of salts that even a watered-down version would mark a major change in the ethical environment of Capitol Hill.

On the lobbying front, for example, it would bar any reimbursed travel by a member of the House or its staff unless that person could certify in writing that no lobbyists were invited on the trip, no lobbyists attended the meetings, and whoever sponsored the gathering does not lobby or pay for lobbying.
That sounds fine to me; in fact I would favor clamping down on lobbyists even more.
It would also require former members who exercise their prerogative of visiting the floor of the House while it is in session to guarantee that the House is not debating a subject in which they have a financial interest and that the alumni will not advocate for or against any matter during the visit.
Sounds fine to me.
It cracks down on some of the favorite devices that Republicans have used to stifle genuine debate and deliberation in the House. To end the practice of lengthy roll calls -- some as long as three hours -- during which Republican arms are twisted to produce party-line victories, the rule would limit voting on any bill or amendment to 20 minutes, unless the leaders of both parties agreed to extend the time.
Not sure what good this will do, since they will just not call the vote until they have twisted the arms, but I don't have a problem with it.
It would halt the spread of "earmarks,"
I absolutely support getting rid of earmarks altogether.
the spending targeted toward individual projects in members' districts, which are used to punish dissenters or reward reluctant supporters, thereby enforcing party discipline on bigger bills. And it would strike a further blow for budgetary sanity by requiring that reconciliation bills -- the end-of-the-line spending measures -- must be tailored to reduce the budget deficit, not increase it, except by a two-thirds vote of the House.
Sounds fine to me.
Finally, it would put teeth into two rules now often ignored by the majority party: It would require that printed copies of all bills be available at least 24 hours before they are called up for a vote, and it would insist that conference committees of the House and Senate actually meet and vote in open session, rather than having brief pro forma gatherings and then turning everything over to staff members or leadership aides to be negotiated in secret.
Sounds fine to me.
As I said, this is strong medicine. At the briefing, Tom Mann of the Brookings Institution, a scholar of Congress, asked the right question when he wondered whether the Democrats would actually adhere to such requirements if they became the House majority in a future election. Price said the requirements would be endorsed by the Democratic caucus and become part of the permanent rules. Frank added that the press would not allow the Democrats to backslide.
Why is this. The MSM press is in the pocket of the Democrats. But as long as they are a part of the permanent rules hopefully the Republicans can prevent backsliding.
The Democrats' record during their 40-year reign in the House gives reason for skepticism. But something must be done to cleanse the House -- and this points the way.


Purple Fingers

Clifford D. May wrote in Townhall .... Shelby Dangerfield, a 10-year-old girl from Billings, Montana ... inked her index finger purple to show her support for Iraqis who had done the same (a means to ensure voters only vote once) and who had been so daring as to display the evidence of having voted in public. "We take it for granted," Shelby said about voting to the Billings Gazette. She added that it was particularly “important for women to be getting to vote.”

You are absolutely right
Her idea has now been picked up by an ad hoc committee for Solidarity with Free Iraqis Purple Finger For Freedom, a coalition of groups whose members will purple their fingers Monday Dec. 12 through Election Day on Thursday, in solidarity with free Iraqis.
What color is your finger?
Among those so far affiliated with this movement are former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Education Secretary Bill Bennett, former Clinton CIA director Jim Woolsey, talk show hosts Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, Democratic Congressman and decorated Vietnam Veteran Jim Marshall, political strategist Mary Matalin as well as such diverse organizations as Families United for Our Troops, Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom and the Henry Jackson Society.


Agreement on Patriot Act

NYT reported House and Senate negotiators reached agreement today on reauthorizing the USA Patriot Act

Very good news.
, the sweeping anti-terrorism measure that granted the federal government new powers after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a Republican Senate leader said. The accord was reached after arduous negotiations about two of the law's most controversial provisions: involving the government's access to library and business records and the use of roving wiretaps, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in announcing the deal.

Under the accord, those retooled provisions would be extended for four years, Mr. Specter said. The House had wanted them extended for 10 years. In negotiations, there was a move to extend them to seven years, but Mr. Specter said the four-year arrangement was much better, because a seven-year extension would have called for a new debate in a presidential election year.
I dont see a problem doing it during a presidential election year; it might make for some interesting debate, but at least we have them for four more years, and the rest is permanent. I wish they had made the roving wiretaps permanent.
Fourteen other, less controversial sections of the law will be extended permanently, assuming final passage of the agreement just announced. Mr. Specter said he was confident there were enough votes in the Senate to avoid a legislative stall, or filibuster, and enough votes to defeat a filibuster if one comes, even though vigorous opposition was voiced immediately after Mr. Specter announced the agreement.


Iran's president says move Israel

BBC NEWS reported "If European countries claim that they have killed Jews in World War II... why don't they provide the Zionist regime with a piece of Europe," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Iranian television.

Because God the Promised Land that God gave them is Israel. Why doesn't Iran give two or three provinces for the Palestinean people, so that the Jews can have all of the Promised Land
"Germany and Austria can provide the... regime with two or three provinces for this regime to establish itself, and the issue will be resolved."

Moderate Voice blogged Is it safe to conclude he isn't a leader who can be trusted to try and reduce tensions in the world....let alone one to control nuclear capabilities?


Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Jewish Grinch who stole Christmas

Burt Prelutsky wrote in Townhall I never thought I’d live to see the day that Christmas would become a dirty word. You think it hasn’t? Then why is it that people are being prevented from saying it in polite society for fear that it will offend?

That is a very good question.
Schools are being forced to replace “Christmas vacation” with “winter break” in their printed schedules. At Macy’s, the word is verboten even though they’ve made untold millions of dollars from their sympathetic portrayal in the Christmas classic, “Miracle on 34th Street.” Carols, even instrumental versions, are banned in certain places. A major postal delivery service has not only made their drivers doff their Santa caps, but ordered them not to decorate their trucks with Christmas wreaths.

How is it, one well might ask, that in a Christian nation this is happening? And in case you find that designation objectionable, would you deny that India is a Hindu country, that Pakistan is Muslim, that Poland is Catholic? That doesn’t mean those nations are theocracies. But when the overwhelming majority of a country’s population is of one religion, and roughly 90% of Americans happen to be one sort of Christian or another, only a damn fool would deny the obvious.
The world is full of damn fools.
Although it seems a long time ago, it really wasn’t, that people who came here from other places made every attempt to fit in. Assimilation wasn’t a threat to anyone; it was what the Statue of Liberty represented. E pluribus unum, one out of many, was our motto. The world’s melting pot was our nickname. It didn’t mean that any group of people had to check their customs, culture or cuisine, at the door. It did mean that they, and especially their children, learned English, and that they learned to live and let live.

That has changed, you may have noticed. And I blame my fellow Jews. When it comes to pushing the multicultural, anti-Christian, agenda, you find Jewish judges, Jewish journalists, and the ACLU, at the forefront.
Burt may blame his fellow Jews, but I don't. I know several Jews, and none have indicated any antagonism against Christmas. I believe that the main pressure comes from the Secular Left.
Being Jewish, I should report, Christmas was never celebrated by my family. But what was there not to like about the holiday? To begin with, it provided a welcome two week break from school. The decorated trees were nice, the lights were beautiful, “It’s a Wonderful Life” was a great movie, and some of the best Christmas songs were even written by Jews.
I still think it is wrong to focus on Jews. Certainly if I know someone is a Jew, I wish them a Happy Hannukah rather than Merry Christmas.
But the dirty little secret in America is that anti-Semitism is no longer a problem in society; it’s been replaced by a rampant anti-Christianity. For example, the hatred spewed towards George W. Bush has far less to do with his policies than it does with his religion.
The converse may be equally true. The hatred of Christianity may stem from the fact that they hate George Bush (because Democrats just can't live with the fact that they are not in power), and Bush makes no secret of the fact that his faith is important to him, so to hurt Bush they target Christianity in general.
The Jews voice no concern when a Bill Clinton or a John Kerry makes a big production out of showing up at black Baptist churches or posing with Rev. Jesse Jackson because they understand that’s just politics.
I.E. they know they don't really mean it. But they know Bush means it.
They only object to politicians attending church for religious reasons.

My fellow Jews, who often have the survival of Israel heading the list of their concerns when it comes to electing a president, only gave 26% of their vote to Bush, even though he is clearly the most pro-Israel president we’ve ever had in the Oval Office.

It is the ACLU, which is overwhelmingly Jewish in terms of membership and funding, that is leading the attack against Christianity in America. It is they who have conned far too many people into believing that the phrase “separation of church and state” actually exists somewhere in the Constitution.
It actually appears only in a letter that Jefferson wrote to a group of Baptists to assure them that the government would not establish any other faith as more important than theirs.
You may have noticed, though, that the ACLU is highly selective when it comes to religious intolerance. The same group of self-righteous shysters who, at the drop of a “Merry Christmas” will slap you with an injunction, will fight for the right of an American Indian to ingest peyote and a devout Islamic woman to be veiled on her driver’s license.
That is true. They are very selective about which faith they will target, and which faiths they will not target.
I happen to despise bullies and bigots. I hate them when they represent the majority, but no less when, like Jews in America, they represent an infinitesimal minority. I am getting the idea that too many Jews won’t be happy until they pull off their own version of the Spanish Inquisition, forcing Christians to either deny their faith and convert to agnosticism or suffer the consequences.
I believe that statement is a bit extreme.
I should point out that many of these people abhor Judaism every bit as much as they do Christianity. They’re the ones who behave as if atheism were a calling. They’re the nutcakes who go berserk if anyone even says, “In God we trust” or mentions that the Declaration of Independence refers to a Creator with a capital “C.” By this time, I’m only surprised that they haven’t begun a campaign to do away with Sunday as a day of rest. After all, it’s only for religious reasons – Christian reasons – that Sunday, and not Tuesday or Wednesday, is so designated.
Saturday is the Jewish "Sabbath", and it is Friday for Muslims.
This is a Christian nation, my friends. And all of us are fortunate it is one, and that so many Americans have seen fit to live up to the highest precepts of their religion. Speaking as a member of a minority group – and one of the smaller ones at that – I say it behooves those of us who don’t accept Jesus Christ as our savior to show some gratitude to those who do, and to start respecting the values and traditions of the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens, just as we keep insisting that they respect ours.

Merry Christmas.
And Happy Hannukah to you.

Read More... tops list of domain name requests

InfoWorld reports was the most sought after domain name using the European Union’s own TLD (top-level domain) on the opening day for registrations. According to data supplied by EURid, the body responsible for registering .eu domain names, received the highest number of applications.

This is interesting, especially after seeing this report: PortalIT reports XXX domain put on hold again - No decision has been taken toward the introduction of a special domain suffix for adult entertainment sites, in other words the .xxx domain. The domain was devised to take the place of the .com suffix for companies in the adult entertainment industry. At the board meeting of ICANN last week there was expected a decision to be taken in this respect but talks have been delayed again, despite of the continuous lobby and pressure from the adult entertainment companies. The delay might be the effect of the counter-lobby led by conservative Christian organizations such as the Family Research Council. The advocates of these organizations say that letting porn sites bear the same domain name would legitimize them but would not make it easier to avoid sexual content on the Internet.

Actually I would support an XXX or a SEX.EU domain, if there was some way of making certain that all adult website would have to use it, because it would make it very easy for Parental Control software to block access to those sites. But if there is no way to force all adult websites to such a domain name, I dont see what advantage it would have.


Public transit via Google

Official Google Blog blogged One of the best things about working at Google is a policy known as "20 percent time," which you can read about on our jobs page or in this post. Having the freedom to pursue projects during 20 percent of our work week means engineers can pursue a breadth of unique and interesting ideas without having to wait for anyone else.

This is an interesting job perk. I wonder if other high tech companies will consider duplicating it.
So not too long ago, a few engineers from San Francisco, New York, and Zurich -- all of whom regularly use public transportation -- decided that being able to plan local trips without having to go to multiple websites, and done in an easy, intuitive way would be a useful product. So they devoted their 20 percent time to building it. As it happens, a lot of people thought this was a great idea, and our small team quickly grew with "twenty-percenters" from across Google.
It is also interesting to see how an ad hoc "Design Team" could develop under this 20% policy.
Today, we are happy and proud to tell you that their efforts have resulted in a new Google Labs experiment: Google Transit Trip Planner. With it, commuters will be able to easily access public transit schedules, routes, and plan trips using their local public transportation options. This first release covers only the Portland, Oregon metro area, but we are working to expand our coverage very soon.
I suspect it will be quite a while before they cover Tulsa, Oklahoma, but it is an interesting project, and even more interesting is how it was developed.
(If you're from a local transit agency interested in being included in Google Transit, we would love to speak with you. Just write to us.)


Latest phishing scams

Globetechnology reported More than two-thirds of Americans who received messages attempting to steal their identities believed the e-mail came from legitimate institutions, a study by America Online says. The practice, known as phishing, tries to trick recipients into disclosing sensitive data such as credit-card numbers and passwords by masquerading as alerts from financial institutions. The attempts affect about 23 per cent of Americans each month.

I get several of these each month. I have published several articles about them (some I wrote, some by others), including here, here, here, and here.
The study — the second annual AOL-National Cyber Security Alliance On-line Safety Study — also said that 81 per cent of its respondents lack at least one of the three protections — updated computer virus software, spyware protection and a firewall — to guard against viruses, spyware, hackers and other threats.

The study involved sending technical experts into hundreds of typical homes to examine personal computers for known security risks and threats. Underlining the growing risk of phishing attacks, 18 per cent of those taking part in the study said a friend or family member had already been victimized by an on-line identity theft scam. Worse, only 42 per cent were familiar with the term "phishing" and, of those, just 57 per cent could define it properly.
Do you know the term, and do you know what it means?
"Phishers are getting better at tricking consumers into revealing their bank account and financial information, and most Americans can't tell the difference between real e-mails and the growing flood of scams that lead to fraud and identity theft." AOL chief trust officer Tatiana Platt said in a statement.

More than half (56 per cent) of the participants either had no anti-virus protection or had not updated it within the previous week, the study found. Almost half — 44 per cent — did not have a properly configured firewall, and 38 per cent lacked spyware protection.
I have all three. What about you?
Despite these findings, 83 per cent of users believed that they were still safe from on-line threats.


Information Week reported Next Sober Attack Slated For Jan. 5 - The next big Sober worm attack is scheduled to take place January 5, 2006, a date probably picked because it's the 87th anniversary of the founding of a precursor to the Nazi Party, a security firm said Wednesday. January 5, 2006, was the date embedded in the most recent Sober variants, said Ken Dunham, a senior engineer with Reston, Va.-based VeriSign iDefense, a security intelligence firm. "We did reverse engineering on the variants, and found this date in the code," said Dunham. "The way this works is that at a pre-determined time, computers already infected with Sober will connect with specified servers and download a new payload, which will likely be spammed out in the millions, as was the last version."


Fighter ace sells medals

Telegraph reports One of the most decorated British fighter pilots of the Second World War has sold his medals, diaries and other memorabilia partly to pay for a hip replacement operation for his wife who faced at least a six-month wait on the National Health Service.

I hope people who favor universal government run health care like they have in Britain will take note of this.
Sqn Ldr Neville Duke, 83, the Royal Air Force's top-scoring ace in the Mediterranean theatre who set a world air speed record of 728 mph in 1953, put the collection up for auction rather than subject his wife Gwen to months of pain and discomfort while she waited for an operation. The standard waiting time for hip replacements in the orthopaedic department at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, one of the nearest facilities to the Dukes' home, is six months. Mrs Duke, who has been in pain with her hip for eight months, was told by her chiropractor that the wait might be 15 months.
The way government run health care systems restrict costs is by making people wait. Hopefully some of them will die, and then they can save the money that would have been spent. Whether it is 6 months, 8 months, or 15 months, would you want to wait?
Before the sale Mrs Duke, 85, explained: "It is very likely I will need a new hip and that is something we just cannot afford. If I went on a NHS waiting list I would have to wait forever, and at my age that's no good.
Americans may go into Canada to buy prescription drugs, but Canadians come down into the US to get needed operations they would have to wait for in Canada.


Afghans Optimistic About the Future

ABC News reported Four years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghans express both vast support for the changes that have shaken their country and remarkable optimism for the future, despite the deep challenges they face in economic opportunity, security and basic services alike.

Very good news.
An ABC News poll in Afghanistan — the first national survey there sponsored by a news organization — underscores those challenges in a unique portrait of the lives of ordinary Afghans. Poverty is deep, medical care and other basic services lacking, and infrastructure minimal. Nearly six in 10 have no electricity in their homes, and just 3 percent have it around the clock. Seven in 10 Afghan adults have no more than an elementary education; half have no schooling whatsoever. Half have household incomes under $500 a year.


In Iraq, Signs of Political Evolution

WaPO reported Parties That Shunned January Vote Are Now Embracing the Process

This is good news. Ballots are definitely preferable to bullets.
Tucked into a bunker-like former headquarters of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, a type of war room unfamiliar in this country buzzed with life Wednesday. Halfway through a 14-hour shift, campaign workers from the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab group that boycotted the country's previous elections in January, munched rice and kebabs, their faces lit by computer screens.

Across town, hundreds of black-clad followers of the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr -- who decried balloting 10 months ago as something imposed under American occupation -- beat their backs with chains and stomped across a large poster of former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi. Sadr's political wing has joined forces with the alliance of Shiite religious parties that leads Iraq's current government and opposes Allawi's secular movement.
And as long as both parties receive enough seats in Parliment for them to have some negotiating position, they hopefully will remain dedicated to a political solution.
As Iraqis nationwide prepare to go to the polls for the third time this year on Dec. 15 -- this time for a new parliament -- candidates and political parties of all stripes are embracing politics, Iraqi style, as never before and showing increasing sophistication about the electoral process, according to campaign specialists, party officials and candidates here.
Fantastic news
"It is like night and day from 10 months ago in terms of level of participation and political awareness," said a Canadian election specialist with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, a group affiliated with the U.S. Democratic Party that is working to ease Iraq's transition to democracy. The institute, which has provided free campaign training to more than 100 Iraqi parties and describes its programs as nonpartisan, granted a reporter access to its employees and training sessions on the condition that no one on its staff be named.

Evidence of political evolution is plastered all over Baghdad's normally drab concrete blast walls and hung on lampposts at nearly every major intersection: large, colorful, graphically appealing posters conveying a wide variety of punchy messages.

Ranting Profs blogged I would have liked to see this article a few weeks ago, and I'd love to see a follow-up article that talks about what the key issues in the campaign are and which parties are likely to do well, but -- at last -- here's an article in a major news outlet that goes into detail on what's going on with preparations for the Iraqi elections. It's clear that the security situation is having an impact, but it's also clear that parties are finding work arounds that are creative (if you can't canvass door to door, text message hundreds of people at once) and it's clear that there's a real seriousness and excitement about this election.

Hugh Hewitt blogged Yes, there are threats and violence and suicide bombers and pessimists in Iraq. But there are also late-night kebabs at campaign headquarters, old-fashioned negative ads, door-hangers, and hope. I'm really glad we're hearing about both from the Post.

California Yankee blogged Amazing, just over two yours ago Iraqi's couldn't say anything Saddam didn't want to hear. Now they campaign freely to choose their own law makers. Such progress is phenomenal. It is very encouraging to see such reports in the main stream media. Especially when it is so different to the doom and gloom espoused by the Dean - Pelosi - Reid - Murtha Defeaticrats.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Senator Clinton, in Pander Mode

NYT reported Hillary Clinton is co-sponsoring a bill to criminalize the burning of the American flag. Her supporters would characterize this as an attempt to find a middle way between those who believe that flag-burning is constitutionally protected free speech and those who want to ban it, even if it takes a constitutional amendment. Unfortunately, it looks to us more like a simple attempt to have it both ways.

And when did a Clinton not try to have things both ways?
Senator Clinton says she opposes a constitutional amendment to outlaw flag-burning.
That is because that is the only way to outlaw it, and the far left in her party would be upset.
In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that flag-burning was protected by the First Amendment. But her bill, which is sponsored by Senator Robert Bennett, Republican of Utah, is clearly intended to put the issue back before the current, more conservative, Supreme Court in hopes of getting a turnaround.

It's hard to see this as anything but pandering - there certainly isn't any urgent need to resolve the issue.
There is a reason for Hillary. The extreme Left in her party are pushing her to make anti-war statements, and threatening to oppose her in the 2008 primaries if she won't go anti-war, but she wants to keep one foot in the middle, hoping conservatives and independents won't be able to paint her as a Lefty.
Flag-burning hasn't been in fashion since college students used slide rules in math class and went to pay phones at the student union to call their friends. Even then, it was a rarity that certainly never put the nation's security in peril.


Some Megachurches Closing for Christmas

Yahoo! News reported This Christmas, no prayers will be said in several megachurches around the country. Even though the holiday falls this year on a Sunday, when churches normally host thousands for worship, pastors are canceling services, anticipating low attendance on what they call a family day.

This is WRONG
Critics within the evangelical community, more accustomed to doing battle with department stores and public schools over keeping religion in Christmas, are stunned by the shutdown. It is almost unheard of for a Christian church to cancel services on a Sunday, and opponents of the closures are accusing these congregations of bowing to secular culture. "This is a consumer mentality at work: `Let's not impose the church on people. Let's not make church in any way inconvenient,'" said David Wells, professor of history and systematic theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a leading evangelical school in Hamilton, Mass. "I think what this does is feed into the individualism that is found throughout American culture, where everyone does their own thing."

The churches closing on Christmas plan multiple services in the days leading up to the holiday, including on Christmas Eve. Most normally do not hold Christmas Day services, preferring instead to mark the holiday in the days and night before. However, Sunday worship has been a Christian practice since ancient times. Cally Parkinson, a spokeswoman for Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., said church leaders decided that organizing services on a Christmas Sunday would not be the most effective use of staff and volunteer resources. The last time Christmas fell on a Sunday was 1994, and only a small number of people showed up to pray, she said.
Most large Megachurches have smaller sanctuaries used for weddings, funerals, etc. They should at a minimum have one of them open, with a pastor prepared to receive any that do show up.
"If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the people who don't go to church, how likely is it that they'll be going to church on Christmas morning?" she said.
Many C&E Christians only go on Christmas and Easter. You should at least be open for them. They might not show up at all next year.
Among the other megachurches closing on Christmas Day are Southland Christian Church in Nicholasville, Ky., near Lexington, and Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, outside of Dallas. North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., outside of Atlanta, said on its Web site that no services will be held on Christmas Day or New Year's Day, which also falls on a Sunday. A spokesman for North Point did not respond to requests for comment.

The closures stand in stark contrast to Roman Catholic parishes, which will see some of their largest crowds of the year on Christmas, and mainline Protestant congregations such as the Episcopal, Methodist and Lutheran churches, where Sunday services are rarely if ever canceled.

Cindy Willison, a spokeswoman for the evangelical Southland Christian Church, said at least 500 volunteers are needed, along with staff, to run Sunday services for the estimated 8,000 people who usually attend. She said many of the volunteers appreciate the chance to spend Christmas with their families instead of working, although she said a few church members complained.
Christ will be attending a major birthday party in Heaven; what will He think if he looks down and sees your church closed? As indicated above, if you don't expect enough to show up to open the large sanctuary, at least have one of the smaller sanctuaries open for any that do show up.


Redefining Christianity for Christmas

Danny Carlton blogged From the Washington State King County Journal...

Medina Elementary School officials took down a Christmas-themed "giving tree'' Monday after a parent complained about its religious connotations. Chris Metzger, office manager at Medina, said the spiral, lighted Christmas tree with a star on top was up for about a week before it was removed. The tree had mittens on it with a different gift idea attached to each. The idea was for students to take a mitten, get the gift listed, wrap it up and return it to school along with the mitten. Organized by students in the Community Kids program, presents from the giving tree are going to be given to students at Lake Hills Elementary School, Metzger said. After the tree was taken down, the mittens were taped to a counter in the main office so the gift-giving could continue. "Now we just have a giving counter,'' joked Metzger
Since the Christmas tree isn't Christian, the only religious act was removing it because of the religious views of the idiot who thought it was.
Technically the star at the top of the tree represents the Star of Bethlehem, but you are right, the tree itself is not a Christian symbol. But even if was, since it was organized by the students, and not by the school, it should still be permissable.



DMNews reports Nine months after New York Times Co. bought the service for $410 million, is ready to explain to advertisers the virtues of sitting alongside 57,000 topics and a library of 1.2 million pieces of content.

I hope they are going to clean up some of their sites, which have multiple pages about the same subject, and where the majority of each page is just ads.
The site, a high flier in the dot-com heyday, is almost under the radar today. But market researcher Nielsen//NetRatings said drew 29 million unique users nationally and 47 million worldwide in October. "We're probably the biggest site that is least known in terms of what we can deliver to advertisers," said Scott B. Meyer, president/CEO of New York-based and a speaker at this week's Search Engine Strategies show.


390m wide asteroid could hit Earth

Guardian reported In Egyptian myth, Apophis was the ancient spirit of evil and destruction, a demon that was determined to plunge the world into eternal darkness. A fitting name, astronomers reasoned, for a menace now hurtling towards Earth from outerspace. Scientists are monitoring the progress of a 390-metre wide asteroid discovered last year that is potentially on a collision course with the planet,

In 31 years
and are imploring governments to decide on a strategy for dealing with it. Nasa has estimated that an impact from Apophis, which has an outside chance of hitting the Earth in 2036, would release more than 100,000 times the energy released in the nuclear blast over Hiroshima. Thousands of square kilometres would be directly affected by the blast but the whole of the Earth would see the effects of the dust released into the atmosphere.

And, scientists insist, there is actually very little time left to decide. At a recent meeting of experts in near-Earth objects (NEOs) in London, scientists said it could take decades to design, test and build the required technology to deflect the asteroid. Monica Grady, an expert in meteorites at the Open University, said: "It's a question of when, not if, a near Earth object collides with Earth. Many of the smaller objects break up when they reach the Earth's atmosphere and have no impact. However, a NEO larger than 1km [wide] will collide with Earth every few hundred thousand years and a NEO larger than 6km, which could cause mass extinction, will collide with Earth every hundred million years. We are overdue for a big one."


Democrats Fear Backlash at Polls for Antiwar Remarks

WaPo reported Strong antiwar comments in recent days by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean have opened anew a party rift over Iraq, with some lawmakers warning that the leaders' rhetorical blasts could harm efforts to win control of Congress next year.

I feel sure they will
Several Democrats joined President Bush yesterday in rebuking Dean's declaration to a San Antonio radio station Monday that "the idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong." The critics said that comment could reinforce popular perceptions that the party is weak on military matters and divert attention from the president's growing political problems on the war and other issues. "Dean's take on Iraq makes even less sense than the scream in Iowa: Both are uninformed and unhelpful," said Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), recalling Dean's famous election-night roar after stumbling in Iowa during his 2004 presidential bid.


Poll finds broad approval of terrorist torture

MSNBC reported Most Americans and a majority of people in Britain, France and South Korea say torturing terrorism suspects is justified at least in rare instances, according to AP-Ipsos polling.

And yet the bill that McCain is pushing is not to ban torture (which we have said we don't do), but cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Saddam did not show up for court today because he did not have clean underwear (I guess the earlier testamony caused him to soil his), and his co-defendents complained they had not been given cigarettes, coffee, or tea. I guess any of those could be called "degrading".
The United States has drawn criticism from human rights groups and many governments, especially in Europe, for its treatment of terror suspects. President Bush and other top officials have said the U.S. does not torture, but some suspects in American custody have alleged they were victims of severe mistreatment. The polling, in the United States and eight of its closest allies, found that in Canada, Mexico and Germany people are divided on whether torture is ever justified. Most people opposed torture under any circumstances in Spain and Italy.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Law schools vs. military recruiters

Pajamas Media blogged The Scotus blog examines the possible arguments in Rumsfeld et al. v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR) over the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment. The ACS Blog has a massive roundup of the summaries of briefs filed in connection with the case. The Law Dork takes note of the ironies in the amicus briefs regarding who is supporting which side of the argument. Virginia Law Democrats says "the WSJ op-ed page (which is itself reliably Orwelllian) has thrown its negligible credibility behind the government's efforts to blackmail law schools

Blackmail is when you threaten to reveal something about someone. All the Solomon ammendment says is that if they don't let Military Recruiters on campus, they don't get federal funds. Which seems quite reasonable to me.
(universities, really, but more on that later) into violating their anti-discrimination policies." Financial Methods simply says: "Law Schools Fight Clinton-era Law". Law Professor Peter Berkowitz argues that law schools which disapprove of military recruitment standards should have the principles to reject Federal funds.
And all the Solomon ammendment does is restrict the funds whether they have the principles to reject them or not.
Come Tuesday the Right Side of the Rainbow will have a link to the audio tapes of the arguments. Meanwhile, in action outside the courtroom the Counter Recruiter is announcing that Cindy Sheehan, Howard Zinn, Dahr Jamail
I don't know who the other two are, but hasn't Cindy's 15 minutes of fame expired a long time ago
and a host of others plan to protest at a military recruitment station as the case is being heard.


Israel can't stop Iran nukes

WorldTribune reports Geopolitical limitations render Israel's air force militarily incapable of halting Iran's nuclear weapons program according to a new report published the by U.S. Army War College.

That is what Saddam thought too.
The report asserts Israel lacks the military capability to locate and destroy Iranian nuclear assets. The report said the Israel Air Force cannot operate at such long distances from its bases.
Who says they need to do it by air?
"The Israeli Air Force has formidable capabilities and enjoys unchallenged supremacy vis-à-vis the other Middle East air powers, but Israel has no aircraft carriers and it cannot use airbases in other Middle East states," the report entitled "Getting Ready for a Nuclear-Ready Iran," said. "Therefore its operational capabilities are reduced when the targets are located far from its territory."
Reduced, not non-existant.


Whose Internet is It Anyway?

Pajamas Media held a BlogJam to discuss Whose Internet is It Anyway?. I urge you to read the whole thing, but I will hilight a few of the points made:

Peng Hwa Ang said One of the prime movers behind the governance debate is the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). It's an open secret: the members of the ITU are worried about the loss in revenue

Precisely. The entire "control of the internet" thing has two basis
  1. Ability to make money from one's citizens wanting access to the net, and Controlling what those citizens can learn and what they can say
from such things as Skype and instant messaging and other substitutions of their traditional voice telephony.

Dan Gillmor said How to kill the open Internet: Give governance to the ITU.

Peng Hwa Ang said We are talking in the abstract here. We need to get down to brass tacks. The issue that WSIS talked about are threefold:
  1. who should have ultimate say of the root zone system--the ccTLD and existence in cyberspace? Currently, it is no longer entirely in the hands of the USA
    Each country should be in charge of its own domain name registration, and if a company thinks it is capable of doing it, it should have the right to the domain server for domains in its country code, because if they screw it up, it will just stop access to domains in that country.
  2. whether there should be one forum to discuss all internet law and policy issues (YES, so WSIS decided) or multiple fora (the original position endorsed by the USA and
  3. should there be a fund to help developing countries.
    There are already many of those funds, and I think funds to provide help in finding water, growing food to feed their citizens, medical support for things like AIDS and other diseases, etc are a lot more important than getting everyone a laptop or an email address.
  1. the USA has defused the tension by allowing all countries to have a say in their own respective ccTLD. The previous position was simply politically untenable: the USA actually had a say in the .IQ of Iraq even before the war.
  2. It makes sense to have one forum to coordinate on matters such as spam, consumer fraud, copyright, etc.
  3. It make sense to help developing countries.

Perry de Havilland said Dan is correct that authoritarian/totalitarian states really can control the internet within their nations but that requires both resources and will to implement. China can do that but other nations might lack the knowledge and determination to do so and so would like a cheaper 'political' solution rather than something like the Great Internet Wall of China.
Are you saying that a poor dictator should be able to use the UN to make sure his citizens don't learn what is going on in his country, rather than having to invest in the information control infrastructure himself?
Much of the talk you hear coming out of the UN is, once you decode the language, about preventing unrestricted free speech. The usual canards about racism, child abuse and fraud are trotted out (sure they happen but...) but those are the excuses, not the real reasons.

Inevitably we hear complaints about US 'control' of the internet whereas in reality "the US" does no such thing and what really annoys various members of the political class in many nations is the idea of an increasingly mass media system that, unlike newspapers or TV/radio channels, cannot not be easily controlled by either co-opting or intimidating a proprietor or board the way they are used to dealing with their existing old media outlets. In truth it is the underpinning American assumptions that spring for their First Amendment that really annoys so many people and they see the internet as a way that this ethos may get imported into their country and that is really what gives so many in the UN hives is the idea the prevailing culture in their neck of the woods may change in ways they cannot control.

Oh sure, all sorts of excuses are used why more control is needed to prevent "bad things" happening on-line, but it is really just about the rights of individuals to express themselves freely. Everything else is a smoke screen.

Dan Gillmor said We may not really need a huge Digital Solidarity Fund in any event. Moore's Law -- the exponential improvement of technology hardware -- pretty much assures that the gear will be affordable almost everywhere before too many more years go by.

How it's deployed is another question. So is whether the people in a given country are preoccupied with such things as having enough food to survive, as opposed to getting online.

Franklin Cudjoe said The UN mostly supervises white elephant projects.
Or anything else they can steal money from.
Whats the use for intance in getting nations to sign up to treaties to proved laptops for poor children in developing countries when they need energy and vitamins, the very things their governmnets most often deny them, before they can use the lap tops. I thought a radio was most imporatnt.

Peng Hwa Ang said I do not think it is a fair question to ask whether funds can be better allocated for water vs internet connectivity. Life is a matter of priorities, not a question of all-or-nothing. It's a difficult situation and I think that while water is essential for the short-run internet connectivity is essential for the long run.
You need water to live. You don't need internet connectivity to live (although when I was off the internet for several days while in the hospital I might have had a different opinion then)
That such a debate even exists shows the desperate situation of the African continent.

Peng Hwa Ang said I've had some people email me that they would (a) not trust the UN to watch over $5 much less my/our internet and (b) if they want their internet go build "their own damn internet".

I happened to meet Bob Kahn walking about the resort town of Sidi Bou Said near Tunis and he said that it is quite easy to set up a parallel internet universe aka "their own damn internet".

My replies have been that (a) the UN is made up of governments and forced to make a choice most people trust their own governments--and therefore the UN--than the USA and (b) building "their own damn internet" is the worst possible outcome for everyone because everyone loses, with the USA being the biggest loser should that happen.
I disagree. I think it is a very good idea. They can control what is on it as much as they want, and then ther will pop up routers to connect their controlled internet to the free internet we have.


An interesting read on the Christmas Season

Danny Carlton blogged From Tidings Online...

We need more Advent and Christmas, not less --- but we need them at the proper time, which is the Church's time, not Macy's time or Wal-Mart's time. Taking Advent seriously would be a good beginning.
Go read the rest of the piece, it's really good.

Personally I've always liked the idea of Christmas being celebrated on Christmas day, and not for the three months prior
I know I really don't like seeing Christmas decorations appearing before Thanksgiving. It sort of buries that holiday.
(which leads to, IMO, a terribly anti-climatic Christmas morning with five minutes of wrapping paper flying through the air, followed by a half an hour of "Is that all I got?!?") The first year I talked my wife into doing it my way it turned out really great. We had someone watch the kids (who were asleep anyway) while we went out to get a Christmas tree (Did you know many places let you have them for free after midnight Christmas Eve?) We brought it back, trimmed it, and to our children's amazement a large fully decorated tree appeared in our living room, Christmas morning, complete with presents beneath.
An interesting idea
But my wife likes the "tradition" of celebrating Christmas for as long as possible, so we've gone back to that. Some of our kids, though, have said they like the idea of putting up the Christmas tree the night before Christmas.

One tradition I have been adamant about is that of taking turns opening presents, one by one, on Christmas morning. It makes the event much more pleasurable, and last longer, and reduces the complaint, "Is that all I got?!?" Simply opening a present is a joy, and few people realize that once they're all opened, that's it; you can't open any, anymore. That's where the disappointment comes in. It's better to do it slowly so both the giving and receiving can be relished.
I fully support that process.
I'm not that much into Advent
I believe that Advent is mainly a Catholic holiday.
, (my wife has always tried to do some of it with the kids) but as a defense against the commercialization, I see how useful it could be.


A fellow torture victim splits with Sen. McCain

The Hill reports Two highly decorated veterans who were held captive together in a Vietnamese prison camp more than three decades ago find themselves nose to nose today over U.S. policy on torture. In a draft letter circulated to some rank-and-file Republican colleagues but not sent, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) asks the top House defense appropriators to exclude from a defense-spending conference report the anti-torture provision added to the Senate version of the bill by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Glad someone is speaking against McCain

The McCain amendment would limit American interrogators to techniques prescribed by the Army Field Manual and prohibit “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” of prisoners in U.S. custody, regardless of nationality or physical location. “This provision could have devastating effects and is entirely unwarranted,” Johnson wrote in an unsigned and undated draft of the letter obtained by The Hill.
That is absolutely right. We don't torture, but to limit us from anything someone might think is degrading is unrealistic, considering the people being interrogated.
The McCain anti-torture language will likely be dropped from the spending bill but included, in some form, in the defense authorization bill, according to Republican aides. Committee staff worked over the weekend to iron out remaining trouble spots in the authorization measure.
McCain wants to be President. How the heck does he think his administration could interrogate Islamoterrorists if this restriction is passed?
Despite 90 votes supporting the McCain amendment in the Senate, the administration has threatened to veto either bill if it contains the amendment’s language. White House officials, most notably Vice President Cheney, have long sought to thwart McCain’s effort.

Betsy blogged Apparently, Johnson eschews the limelight as much as McCain claims it. I'd like to hear more of his views or at least see a debate between him and McCain instead of just seeing McCain on every other show every time you turn on the TV.


Weicker May Challenge Lieberman

NYT reported Former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. on Monday criticized Senator Joseph I. Lieberman's continued support of the war in Iraq and said that if no candidate challenged the senator on the issue in the 2006 election, he would consider running.

Democrats are committing suicide by their extreme opposition to the war in a time when Islamoterrorists are attacking not just in Iraq, but many different places in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
"When you've become the president's best friend on the war in Iraq, you should not be in office, especially if you're in the opposing party," Mr. Weicker, 74, said in a phone interview from his home in Essex, Conn. "I'm going to do everything I can to see that Joe Lieberman does not get a free pass."

California Yankee blogged Senator Lieberman remains popular in opinion polls, but there is a small faction of the antiwar Democrats that strongly object to Lieberman's support for the war. There was talk of a primary challenge being mounted against Lieberman earlier in the year but because of his popularity, fundraising and support among the Democratic hierarchy it hasn't and wont amount to much.


Top Al Qaeda Figures Held in Secret CIA Prisons

ABC News reports Two CIA secret prisons were operating in Eastern Europe until last month when they were shut down following Human Rights Watch reports of their existence in Poland and Romania. Current and former CIA officers speaking to ABC News on the condition of confidentiality

A grand jury needs to be conviened, and Brian Ross and Richard Esposito need to be called to identify the current and former CIA officers who betrayed their country by revealing this information, and if they will not identify them, Brian Ross and Richard Esposito need to be jailed until they agree to reveal their sources. If they can do it to compel journalists to reveal who told them what as a part of a CIA Coup attempt against the Bush Administration, surely it can be done to ferret out traitors who reveal where top al Qaeda suspects are being held.
say the United States scrambled to get all the suspects off European soil before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived there today. The officers say 11 top al Qaeda suspects have now been moved to a new CIA facility in the North African desert.

Sister Toldjah blogged Now just when will those who are supposedly ‘concerned’ about our national security (the Plamegate pushers) call for an investigation into this?

Moderate Voice blogged So, how long do you think it'll take before we find out where these North African prisons are? I give it a month.

Echidne blogged Is it that the European interrogation centers were just chosen because they had excellent food and beer?


Tagged by The Anchoress

The Anchoress tagged me with a challenge to publicly post some confessions about myself. It is a high honor to be tagged by a blogger who is up for The Weblog Awards 2005 Best Conservative Blog category. (Please vote for her).

I guess I will tag the other bloggers that I endorsed for other categories in the Weblog Awards:

I confess.... that I frequent get frustrated at my medical problems, until I read the problems that Job had.

I confess.... I sometimes still get frustrated. After all, Job is Old Testament, and though the secular left will be upset at me for mentioning it, doesn't the Happy Holiday that we are about to celebrate have something to do with the birth of a baby that heraled the start of a New Testament.

I confess.... that my health problems stem from having eaten too much for much of my life, and not getting enough exercise.

I confess.... while I love refurbishing computers and giving them to others (HelpingTulsa) I sometimes get frustrated when some recipients seem too greedy. If someone says they want the best I have, I find I just give them whatever is handy, while when someone says they are so desperate for a computer that the will take anything I have, I give them the best that I can find. That seems right, yet should I be the one to make that choice?

I confess.... being homebound I sometimes take undue advantage of the volunteers that come over to help me with HelpingTulsa by asking them to do other things for me. Without their help, HelpingTulsa would not be able to turn out any refurbished computers, because by myself I cannot lift anything.

I confess.... I spend more time blogging than I do talking to God, or reading His Book

I confess.... I have some very good friends that I really love, and I don't tell them how much I appreciate them as often as I should.


Monday, December 05, 2005

The Weblog Awards 2005

The Weblog Awards are now available for voting (or at least they should be soon). Voting begins December 5, 2005 and ends December 15, 2005. You may vote once per category every 24 hours.

My blog did not make the finals. You may vote for any blog you wish, but if you want to know how I plan to vote, I endorse


NASA ditches IE in favor of Firefox

TCG reports A little birdie told me today that NASA has given up entirely on Internet Explorer. Now, if you are an employee of NASA, every time you go to a page using IE, you get up to three prompts telling you how risky it is to run scripts. The official line is that the newest IE vulnerability was the proverbial straw, and now NASA's standard internal browser is Firefox.

Why did they wait this long? Firefox is clearly better.
That NASA has taken this step isn't all that surprising - NASA has been odd man out for many years, encouraging innovation instead of pushing for standardization in their IT systems. But this is interesting because I don't know of another government agency that has recently standardized (internally) on any browser besides IE for...well, it's been a long time. Years. Time was Mozilla (Netscape) was standard at NCI, but even that holdout has given up the ghost. Maybe this will give them precedent so they can move to a good browser.


Angry BellSouth Withdrew Donation

WaPo reported Hours after New Orleans officials announced Tuesday that they would deploy a city-owned, wireless Internet network in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, regional phone giant BellSouth Corp. withdrew an offer to donate one of its damaged buildings that would have housed new police headquarters, city officials said yesterday.

According to the officials, the head of BellSouth's Louisiana operations, Bill Oliver, angrily rescinded the offer of the building in a conversation with New Orleans homeland security director Terry Ebbert, who oversees the roughly 1,650-member police force. City officials said BellSouth was upset about the plan to bring high-speed Internet access for free to homes and businesses to help stimulate resettlement and relocation to the devastated city.

I imagine they were upset at the loss of potential business. Telephone companies have opposed similar free wireless plans in a number of other cities.
Around the country, large telephone companies have aggressively lobbied against localities launching their own Internet networks, arguing that they amount to taxpayer-funded competition. Some states have laws prohibiting them..... Greg Meffert, the city's chief technology officer and a deputy mayor, said he is saddened that BellSouth finds the city's network so objectionable.
I am sad too, but is he surprised?
"It's a once-in-a-century opportunity to truly show the entire world what can be, instead of just what is, and help write future history in the process," Meffert said. "It's a damn shame they don't see that."
They do see it, they just want the money. If you had been buying your internet connectivity through them, they probably would have supported it.
The wireless network covers the central business district and the French Quarter, and the city plans to expand it as the people return.


On Climate Change

NYT reported In December 1997, representatives of most of the world's nations met in Kyoto, Japan, to negotiate a binding agreement to cut emissions of "greenhouse" gases. They succeeded. The Kyoto Protocol was ultimately ratified by 156 countries. It was the first agreement of its kind. But it may also prove to be the last.

Today, in the middle of new global warming talks in Montreal, there is a sense that the whole idea of global agreements to cut greenhouse gases won't work.
That is why Clinton never submitted it to the Congress, and why Bush pulled us out of Kyoto.
A major reason the optimism over Kyoto has eroded so rapidly is that its major requirement - that 38 participating industrialized countries cut their greenhouse emissions below 1990 levels by the year 2012 - was seen as just a first step toward increasingly aggressive cuts. But in the years after the protocol was announced, developing countries, including the fast-growing giants China and India, have held firm on their insistence that they would accept no emissions cuts, even though they are likely to be the world's dominant source of greenhouse gases in coming years.
That is exactly the problem. No matter how much the Western countries cut, and how much they hurt their economies doing it, China and India would add more than was cut.
Their refusal helped fuel strong opposition to the treaty in the United States Senate and its eventual rejection by President Bush.
It was not just Bush. Clinton knew it would not be confirmed so he did not even submit it.
But the current stalemate is not just because of the inadequacies of the protocol. It is also a response to the world's ballooning energy appetite, which, largely because of economic growth in China, has exceeded almost everyone's expectations. And there are still no viable alternatives to fossil fuels, the main source of greenhouse gases. Then, too, there is a growing recognition of the economic costs incurred by signing on to the Kyoto Protocol.
Countries that signed re not following it, because they knew it was hurting their economies.
As Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, a proponent of emissions targets, said in a statement on Nov. 1: "The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge."
That is what Bush said all along.
This is as true, in different ways, in developed nations with high unemployment, like Germany and France, as it is in Russia, which said last week that it may have spot energy shortages this winter. Some veterans of climate diplomacy and science now say that perhaps the entire architecture of the climate treaty process might be flawed.


McCain Won't Compromise on Torture Ban

Yahoo! News reports Sen. John McCain, a prisoner of war who was tortured in Vietnam, said Sunday he will refuse to yield on his demands that the White House agree with his proposed ban on the use of torture to extract information from suspected terrorists.

McCain hopes to be President in 2008. If he is successful in tieing the administration's hands it will be interesting to see how he deals with terrorists when he is in the White House
"I won't," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press" when asked whether he would compromise with the Bush administration. He is insisting on his language that no person in U.S. custody should be subject to "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment." The Arizona Republican said he had met several times with the president's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, on the issue, and both McCain and Hadley said Sunday they were working toward an agreement. Hadley, on ABC's "This Week," repeated President Bush's assertion that the United States does not torture and follows international conventions on the treatment of prisoners. He added, "We're trying to find a way ... where we can strike the balance between being aggressive to protect the country against the terrorists, and, at the same time, comply with the law."


Why are Republican leaders governing like Democrats?

Dick Armey wrote in OpinionJournal In all my years in politics, I've never sensed such anger and frustration from our volunteers--those who do the hard work of door-to-door mobilization that Republican candidates depend on to get elected. Across the nation, wherever I go to speak with them, their refrain is the same: "I can't tell a dime's worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats." Our base rightly expects Republicans to govern by the principles--lower taxes, less government and more freedom--that got them elected. Today, with Republicans controlling both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, there is a widening credibility gap between their political rhetoric and their public policies.

I completely agree.
What will happen to Republicans if these freedom-loving, grassroots activists don't show up for work next fall?
They need to show up, because electing Dems would be even worse, but some of those freedom-loving grassoots activists need to run in the primaries against the overspending spineless RINOs.
The elections earlier this month may be an indication of the answer. Colorado's Gov. Bill Owens, once the future presidential nominee of choice among smaller-government conservatives, teamed up with liberal Democrats in the Legislature to expand the state budget by billions of dollars and grab taxpayers' refunds for years to come. The Democratic big spenders got what they wanted, but it has left the Republican Party fractured and effectively ended Gov. Owens's future as a Republican leader. Here is one of Armey's Axioms: Make a deal with the devil and you're the junior partner.
Good point.
At the national level, where President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress are presiding over the largest expansion of government since LBJ's Great Society, things are no better. Our political base expects elected leaders to cut both tax rates and spending, because they know that the real tax burden is reflected in the overall size of government.

Instead, we have embarrassing spectacles like the 2005 highway bill. Costing $295 billion, it is 35% larger than the last transportation bill, fueled by 6,371 earmarks doled out to favored political constituencies. By comparison, the 1987 highway bill was vetoed by Ronald Reagan for containing relatively few (152) earmarks. Overall, even excluding defense and homeland security spending, the growth rate of discretionary spending adjusted for inflation is at a 40-year high.
George Bush has done a very good job, but he needs to learn how to veto these bills.
All of our leaders are complicit in this spending spree. President Bush has yet to veto a single spending bill. The House leadership refuses to rein in appropriators, claiming, as one of them preposterously put it, that "there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget."

I have always believed that good policy is good politics for Republicans. Reagan won against an incumbent president in 1980, declaring in his first inaugural address that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." I beat an incumbent Democrat in 1984, against the dire predications of my party's political experts, on an aggressive agenda of smaller government and Social Security reform based on large personal retirement accounts. In 1994, Republicans took control of the House for the first time in 40 years, running on the Contract with America, a clearly articulated public policy agenda based on smaller, smarter government.

Conversely, when we let politics define our agenda, we get in trouble. The highway bill is one example in which the criterion of choice was politics. An even better example was 2003's expansion of Medicare to cover prescription drugs. This was an explicitly political effort to take health care "off the table" for the 2004 elections. I said at that time that the proposed legislation was "a case where bad politics has produced a bad policy proposal." I predicted that the deal was "bad news for senior citizens and possibly even worse political news for the Republican Party." Here is another one of Armey's Axioms: You can't get your finger on the problem if you've got it in the wind. Bad policy is bad politics. The 2003 expansion of Medicare enacted by Republicans has dramatically increased the financial pressures on an already broken program, and it has become a political albatross around the necks of Republicans who voted for it.
I agree. I wish they had not passed it, and I am in a position to take advantage of it. But now that it has been inacted, it will be very easy for Democrats to expand it.
As the party of smaller government, Republicans will always have a more difficult job governing than Democrats do. Government naturally wants to expand. It is always easier for politicians when both you and your political base truly believe that there is a new government program to solve any problem, real or imagined. We will always have to work harder and be more entrepreneurial than our political opponents when it comes to implementing reforms.

To succeed in the future, the Republican Party must get back to basics. We need, in effect, another Republican takeover of Congress, reaffirming a commitment to less government, lower taxes and more freedom. As in 1994, this revolution will be driven by the Young Turks of the party--the brave backbenchers more inspired by Reagan than the possibility of a glowing editorial on the pages of the New York Times. Indeed, this is already happening.
I agree. We need to take over Congress from the big spending RINOs.
A serious effort to slow the growth of the federal budget is being driven by a small group of House Republicans led by Reps. Mike Pence, Jeff Flake and Jeb Hensarling. Against their own leadership's wishes, this brave group and others from the Republican Study Committee gathered outside the Cannon House office building in September to kick off "Operation Offset," a modest proposal to pay for the extraordinary costs associated with Hurricane Katrina with savings from other parts of the budget. Top on the list: cuts in highway pork and a suspension of the soon-to-be-implemented expansion of Medicare. It would have been easier not to have overspent in the first place, but the Republican Congress must reestablish its credibility as the party of spending restraint and fiscal responsibility.

Likewise, the Republican Congress must make the most important elements of the Bush tax cuts permanent, particularly repeal of the death tax, lower income tax rates and dividend tax relief. These proposals deserve substantial credit for the current strength of the American economy. Success would represent real steps toward our ultimate goal of tax reform and a simple, fair and flat income tax.
I agree.
While prospects for retirement security seem unlikely before 2006, I'm counting on able legislative entrepreneurs like Sen. Jim DeMint to drag his colleagues, kicking and screaming, into a serious, adult debate about the most important policy challenge facing our generation. Personally, I've never quite understood the bed-wetters' fears when it comes to personal retirement accounts. How could you possibly lose by saving future retirees--our children and grandchildren--from another broken government promise?

None of this will be easy. The good news for Republicans willing to do this heavy lifting is that the "ideas" of the left are bankrupt. Notice that the brightest liberal politicians, like Hillary Clinton, always move toward our policy ground as they prepare to run for national office. Why would Republicans want to act like them when they act like us in order to win?

One final Armey Axiom: When we act like us, we win. When we act like them, we lose.