After all, the big bad wolf is not all that big and not all that bad. But how to 'fess up to that and not to lose face? Esp. if you hadn't much of a face to lose to start with?
Yep. Not so bad, indeed.
And apropos Greenwald: check this out too.
And, of course,your meal will be incomplete without this for dessert.
19 June 2013
After all, the big bad wolf is not all that big and not all that bad. But how to 'fess up to that and not to lose face? Esp. if you hadn't much of a face to lose to start with?
A big bump for the little putz:
18 June 2013
"...the photographer's injuries were not life-threatening."
No, really, people: why didn't anyone propose this before? After all what could be more natural?
Except that for a load of well-meaning crapola you shouldn't look farther than this:
It's time to stop the madness. Yes, our military needs to invest in cyberwar capabilities, but we also need international rules of cyberwar, more transparency from our own government on what we are and are not doing, international cooperation between governments and viable cyberweapons treaties. Yes, these are difficult. Yes, it's a long slow process. Yes, there won't be international consensus, certainly not in the beginning. But even with all of those problems, it's a better path to go down than the one we're on now.Yeah, how couldn't you all see it coming: CIA, FSB, Mossad, MI6 (or is it MI5 again?) and all these other spooks of the world sitting down and hammering out the terms of the future cyberpeace.
I would even dare to call for a new fraternity:
Oh well, no sweat here. Gonna read now Helen Keller’s Letter to Nazi Germany.
Like many others in the West, but with much more fervor, Ms Amanpour is trumpeting the possible new era in US - Iran relationship. Her piece is not overburdened with facts about Iran's role in the international mayhem of many kinds and its ominous shadow in Iraq, the Gulf and its other neighborhoods.
I am not going to try to spoil her hopeful tone. Only one question, where she mentions the Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (forgetting his title of Ayatollah for some reason). As she truthfully states, "the system banned Rafsanjani from running".
Now, Ayatollah Rafsanjani is well known as a moderate in name only. In fact, he is one of the 7 people still being wanted by Argentine for mass murder.
And the question to Ms Amanpour is: if a "moderate" like Rafsanjani was disqualified by the top dog, Ayatollah Khamenai, what does that tell you about the winner?
Update: Hassan Rouhani answers Ms Amanpour's plea:
The Islamic republic has no intention, however, of ending uranium enrichment, Hassan Rouhani, who won the presidency over the weekend, said in his first news conference Monday.Yep.
And more - Iran's popular new leader is no reformist. By someone who knows infinitely more about Iran than Christiane Amanpour ever will.
And not to forget this: Iran to send 4,000 troops to aid President Assad forces in Syria. New Iran, indeed.
Forty people claiming benefits for blindness have been arrested after police in Rome filmed them engaging in activities including driving, reading newspapers, supermarket shopping and surfing the web in broad daylight.Via Blazing Cat Fur.
If you thought that the members of the Watcher of Weasels forum are these square dudes and dudesses carping endlessly about politics in general and Barack Obama in particular, here is your proof that you are wrong. Tom White, the editor in chief of Virginia Right on some pretty unsquare things he wouldn't mind doing:
P.S. Just don't do it in Texas, like Willie N. had a misfortune to...
17 June 2013
You know, I'm sure, the phrase "every cloud has a silver lining". Well, let's turn that on its head: "every silver lining has a cloud".
In this case, the silver lining is that Hamas appears to be losing out on its funding and weapons supplies from Iran because of its support for the rebels in Syria. Who says so? Well, according to The Algemeiner, it's Israel's Channel 2.
As a result, "...following Hamas’ conflict with Israel in November, which saw a major depletion in the organization’s weapons stockpile, there is now a shortage of weapons." To say that, as a result, my heart bleeds would be to use British irony so thick that even I would choke on it. Do read the article; it's short and sweet.
By Brian Goldfarb.
Many people who are aware of Yad VaShem's program to honor Righteous Gentiles assume that all such individuals have been honored by now -- 68 years after the end of WWII. Indeed, Yad Vashem's program has bestowed recognition on tens of thousands of individuals who demonstrated bravery and heroism as they risked their own lives to save Jewish men, women and children. However, even today, new stories are coming to light about the actions of rescuers and untold stories about the rescuers themselves, even those who have been honored, continue to emerge.
One such incident involves Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who is credited with saving over 3000 Jewish lives between 1939 and 1943. Sendler was, in fact, honored by Yad VaShem in 1965 but her story went largely unnoticed until a group of Kansas City schoolgirls began to investigate the story as part of their research of the Holocaust. The research, which began in 1999, culminated in a trip that the girls took to Poland to meet Sendler and the subsequent development of additional materials that highlight the amazing story of a remarkable woman.
Irena Sendler joined the Zagota underground soon after the Nazis invaded Poland. Zagota members specialized in helping Jews escape the Polish dragnet and it is estimated that Sendler and her comrades assisted over 500 Jews escape German capture between 1939 and 1941.
In 1941 Sendler obtained false identification papers which identified her as a nurse with permission to enter the Warsaw Ghetto to bring in food and medicine. Sendler immediately understood that the Nazi's intended to, ultimately, destroy the ghetto and kill the residents and she decided to save as many lives as possible -- this time, primarily the lives of children, who she felt that she could best hide in the orphanages and convents of Poland.
Sendler began to knock on doors in the ghetto and implored parents to allow her to take their children to safety beyond the ghetto walls. She later recounted the trauma of trying to convince mothers and fathers that their children would be safer with her than they would be if they remained in the ghetto. "I talked the mothers out of their children" Sendler later related as she described the heartwrenching scenes that she had to endure, day after day, as she separated the parents from their children. "Those scenes over whether to give a child away were heart-rending. Sometimes, they wouldn't give me the child. Their first question was, 'What guarantee is there that the child will live?' I said, 'None. I don't even know if I will get out of the ghetto alive today."
Sendler smuggled the children out of the ghetto under the noses of the Nazis, bringing the children out by hiding them in toolboxes, bags, luggage and even under garbage carts or under piles of rags with barking dogs on top as they passed the German guards who were stationed at the entrance to the ghetto. She and other Zagota members also identified a network of hidden tunnels and learned about the sewer system that ran under the city which they used as well to smuggle the children out.
Once the children were safely removed Sendler's work continued. She needed to find safe hiding places for the children, primarily in orphanages, convents and with sympathetic families. The children were provided with new names but Sendler recorded their real names and hiding places on tissue paper which she placed in glass jars and then buried in her neighbor's garden, hoping to one day reunite them with their families or the Jewish community.
Sendler was captured in October 1943 and tortured but she didn't reveal any information about "her" children. Zagota members secured her release by bribing a German guard and she lived out the rest of the war in hiding.
Today Sendler's activities are commemorated by the Lowell Milken Center in the Life in a Jar project which includes a book, a website and a performance which has been viewed by audiences throughout the world.
meaning nude. But not here, somewhere else. Instead, watch this (click to enlarge):
Feeling better now? So stop surfing and back to the yoke.
16 June 2013
The drama around the PRISM surveillance is unfolding as we speak. Glenn Greenwald (and, by relation, the Guardian) continue to milk the apparent sensation for every drop it could bring to his fame and to their dwindling income. US security honchos keep providing some mumbling and some hilarious responses (not wittingly indeed). The whistleblower hero/traitor naively assumes that by telling the world that "U.S. government has been hacking to gain information from hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide for years" he is shaking the foundations of the free world and waking up the uncounted billions that will now... what exactly? He knows, possibly, but still isn't telling.
The Republicans and the Democrats are in total confusion, flipping their traditional positions, forgetting what exactly were their well rehearsed principles during the reign of previous administrations. No, the current administration wasn't the one to start this business. And, I dare say, nor was the previous. It goes way back.
The Chinese*, the Russians, the Israelis, the Brits, the French etc. who practice the same or similar surveillance methods**, each to their own ends, watch the brouhaha with a good measure of glee and a good measure of satisfaction - for reasons I don't have to explain.
To some degree I understand the sentiment of the FBI Director Robert Mueller that "law enforcement must stay a step ahead of criminals and terrorists". And I tend to believe that in some cases PRISM surveillance helped to catch some suspects. On the other hand, creating an avalanche of data isn't by itself a guarantee of success - if, indeed, the purpose of creating the avalanche is to catch the terrorists. But in general, the indignation displayed by some pundits, who are trying to show the world that the phenomenon in question is something absolutely new and unheard of, is kinda pathetic.
Collecting information has always been just another facet of espionage. We may detest espionage in all its forms, but this sentiment will not make it go away. The information is out there, it is available, everyone was collecting it, is collecting it and everyone will continue to collect it. It goes against our moral judgment, unfortunately, but it is there - as is crime, as is death or taxes. It is going on and, instead of handwringing and bemoaning the unfairness, everyone, no matter if a big or small business, a corporation or a regular Joe, should decide on the optimal mode of behavior that will protect his/their/its privacy best, without committing any offense against the laws of the land, of course.
Well, for the issues related to the impact of the PRISM on businesses you can do much worse than reading this post by Francis Sedgemore. He laid it out quite succinctly. My interest for now is with a regular Joe. A person whose little personal secrets range from a potentially embarrassing video clip he/she may have inadvertently taken in a moment of inebriation and uploaded on Youtube, via a few bucks salted away in an account the spouse (or IRS) knows nothing about, to a few movies downloaded illegally for free, saving self and family members a few bucks that would have been otherwise spent on getting the movie from Flicks. You know, all these small but potentially shameful items... Or, if you want to really raise the ante, some "anonymous" blogger that sometimes allows himself a few non-parliamentary expressions or thoughts aiming at some high windows. I have put quotation marks around the word "anonymous", because this anonymity shtick is a total self-deception that this specific blogger doesn't really share - the veil of secrecy is so thin that whoever needs (or wants) to know the real name, address, ID number and other little shameful items about the said blogger, does know them all. And more, I am (not) afraid.
To remind you again about the PRISM abilities:
Data which the NSA is able to obtain with the PRISM program may include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice over IP conversations, file transfers, login notifications and social networking details.In other words: everything you did or intend to do via your computer or smartphone is available and thus known and could possibly be used. And of course, nobody even mentions anymore such trifles as your banking details, your credit history, your credit cards' numbers and activities: all this is already far behind the current frontiers of data collection, having practically become a part of public domain.
Let's check now what exactly could happen to your personal information while it's stored somewhere in the innards of the government's behemoth. As someone who dubbed a bit in data processing and data mining, I think I could offer a few likely scenarios.
1. Democratic societies
By and large, your regular Joe and his/her light infringements of law and order are not of interest to the data mining machines. The reason is simple: any data mining operation that will focus on minor misdeeds will bring up so many millions of trivial results (which, most probably, will include the watchers themselves), that there is absolutely no sense in performing this kind of operation. The nets are being thrown into the sea for much bigger fish.
This is the main reason that, as long as the regime that guards and benevolently watches your personal pursuit of happiness doesn't change for worse, you are getting off scot-free with all these little missteps of yours. But you shouldn't ever forget that the information about these missteps is out there in your government vaults. The moment when, instead of mining the data for big fish, someone comes to the accumulated data to look for you specifically, our regular Joe, the situation will change drastically. Because it is there and in one simple inquiry it will come out, straight and unvarnished. For most people, of course, it will mean no more than a slight embarrassment or a tiff with a friend. For some it may mean an ugly divorce, for some - an invitation to IRS, for some - a break-up of a life-long friendship. Etc...
So how and when could all this trove of information about you become dangerous to or, at least, encroaching upon your well-being? Even in a most democratic society there is at least one possibility of such event. Paradoxically, it could be caused by the same kind of well-meaning heroes/villains/morons like Snowden, Manning and, not to forget of course, Mr Assange. In exactly the same way that they've casually exposed human rights activists in Belarus, Russia, Iran and other places, their way of making the stolen information public could expose your little secrets as well. Nothing personal, of course, it will be done for pure and altruistic motives. If it happens, you are a fair prey to the curious eyes of your friends (to start with), your family and, of course, your personal enemies. You may be sure that the moment a search in the database becomes possible, courtesy of whistlblowers, the people who know you personally will be the first to satisfy their natural curiosity.
Then, of course, there are hackers. Being sloppy in everything they do, the government bureaucracts quite surely overlooked a few cracks in the defense mechanisms of their data warehouse behemoth. The bad guys out there will find a way to the info, and your only protection is that of a proverbial leaf in a forest: the chances one of the bad guys will get to you are small enough to regard them exactly as you regard a chance of getting into a traffic accident.
All in all - if you are a lazy guy/gal that doesn't like to change the acquired lazy habits, there is not much you can do. There is definitely one thing that I wouldn't do if I were you: buying one of these $19.99 encryption software packages from the market and using them on your personal data, your e-mails etc. This is one surefire way to let the good guys (if you could call the Big Brother's servants good guys) and the bad guys to sit up and listen, asking themselves all kinds of questions about you. In no time your puny encryption will get cracked, but the attention you have earned just by using it will make you flagged forever - and who knows where it will end? One of the good guys may just decide to send your name and address to IRS - to give you one possibility of a rather miserable ending of your otherwise happy existence.
Generally: don't do on the Internet anything you wouldn't do in the central square of your city or village (on a market day). And think twice before doing it on your computer even if it's not connected to the Internet. You never know.
As for your smart phone: it is smart, but for all practical purposes it's not exactly yours. Several good guys and an uncounted number of bad ones are watching it. Take care.
Of course, there is another nightmarish scenario: the democracy you live in and are so fond of carping about, the fragile thing that it is, could transform into something much less benign overnight. And here we come to the other kind, the
2. Not so democratic regimes
Once, in my other life, the one spent behind the Iron Curtain, I was lectured by a guy in the know. The subject was exactly that which we are discussing now: what is it that the Big Brother (usually dubbed KGB back then) wants to know about us? And the answer was, unsurprisingly - everything (just like now, isn't it?). The reason was simple: KGB wanted (still wants, under another name) to have as much compromising information as possible on each and every citizen of the country (of course, if possible, on foreign citizens as well). The purpose wasn't to jail every single citizen, far from it. KGB simply wanted the ability to pull the hook, already imbedded in your guts, the moment your services will be required for this or another purpose. It wanted to be able to show you the stick of the possible blackmail without any need to dangle the more expensive carrot in front of your face.
And this is precisely the point where your tiny indiscretions: that clip you have uploaded unthinkingly, the downloaded movie, these few bucks you've salted away - all that and more will come out, carefully secured in a drab-colored file with a long number instead of your name on it.
Oh, and if you were a motormouth blogger in that previous life and tended to badmouth the current leader (Caudillo, Fuhrer, whatever): your file may be a bit bulkier, and the blackmail option could be shelved too, being unnecessary in your case.
Bleak, isn't it? In fact, aside of the technology involved that makes it that much easier for the bad guys, not much has changed since the first informer in history told the first tyrant in history about a suspicious conversation he overheard recently... so again, just take care.
(*) Which reminds me the biggest irony of the situation: Snowden is asking for asylum from the people who will benefit the most buying his services, expecting him to do for them exactly what he was doing before, but against his own country. I don't know whether he realized this already, but it is inescapable. Update: Sure thing: Chinese Paper Says Snowden Could Bolster China's Cyber Expertise.
(**) And another ironic moment: US of A, which, as I mentioned, is only one of many others practicing that kind of surveillance, is the one suffering the most from the attention of the well-meaning whistleblowers. Have you hears about Wikileaks or anyone else exposing anything similar or anything of value at all about China, Russia, North Korea etc.? I bet...
The results of the survey by Gallup would have been hilarious if they haven't been so sad.
First of all, it suddenly appears that most Republicans (who, by and large, supported the Patriot Act during Bush times), are against the PRISM surveillance program, while Democrats (who are supposed to be aghast by the purported breach of their right to privacy) are for PRISM. Guess why?
And, for the same (poorly hidden) reason, most Republicans approve the Snowden's act of disclosing a state secret, while most Democrats disapprove.
Gallup people don't leave that stone unturned, giving it straight:
The reactions to these types of government programs have remained constant over the past seven years, although Republicans and Democrats have essentially flipped their attitudes over that time period, reflecting the change from Republican President George W. Bush to Democratic President Barack Obama.There is some food for thought in that for both sides, isn't there?
And here comes Dana Milbank of WaPo, a staunch supporter of the current administration, bemoaning the Democrats' flip on surveillance. Somewhat pathetic.
15 June 2013
The quote below from an article by Mark Durie is sufficient and self-contained
Like student magazines all over the world, Woroni, put out by students at the Australian National University, publishes satire. It did when I attended 30 years ago, and it still does today. Much of what is written is offensive to someone or other, but it is a rare day when the university pays any attention.
However last week, The Australian newspaper reported that university authorities responded to a complaint by international students to compel Woroni "to pulp a satirical infographic which described a passage from the Koran as a 'rape fantasy'". Rachel Baxendale wrote:
The University also threatened student authors and editors of the infographic with disciplinary action, including academic exclusion and the withdrawal of the publication's funding.
The piece was a fifth in a satirical series entitled "Advice from Religions" which had previously discussed Catholicism, Scientology, Mormonism and Judaism.
No complaints were received about any of the earlier installments.
Hat tip: Daled Amos.
This is why I feel so very sorry for Edward Snowden; I think he's about to fall into the chasm between his conception of liberty and that shared by the people whom he imagines he's defending.A great conclusion of a great post by Shuggy.
Exemplary, Shuggy, if I may say so.