587 Articles


19 years Ago

What is patriotic?

Published by marco on

In the Newsday today, I see that the CIA is being rewarded for their great counter-intelligence work so far:

<q>President George W. Bush last month signed an intelligence order directing the CIA to undertake its most sweeping and lethal covert action since the founding of the agency in 1947, explicitly calling for the destruction of Osama bin Laden and his worldwide al-Qaida network, according to senior government officials. … The president also added more than $1 billion to the agency’s war... [More]

Profiling is <em>good

Published by marco on

In the same creepy vein as the previous post, here’s an article on the Wall Street Journal talking about how easy it is being white and being able to freely profile people while sympathizing with their plight, but demanding their patience and that they “suck it up”.

<q>But you know what? I think we’re in the fight of our lives, and I think we’re going to need their patience. And I think those who have not yet developed patience are going to have to grow up and get some. …
No one likes... [More]

Thinking about flying?

Published by marco on

You better make sure your reading material is government-approved. From CityPaper, an account of one man trying to fly to Arizona in a highly vigilant America.


USA Bill passes Senate 96-1

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WiredNews reports that the USA (Uniting and Strengthening America) or “Terror” Bill has passed the Senate. Presumably it will not have more trouble passing Congress. Included measures granted to policing organizations are:

<q>…allow[s] police to perform “roving wiretaps” and listen in on any telephone that a subject of an investigation might use. … expands police’s ability to access any type of stored or “tangible” information…such as medical or educational data … [provides] that... [More]

Missiles Away

Published by marco on

If you caught President Bush’s press conference last night, you might have been amazed to discover that not only is the notion of a Missile Defense Shield still alive, apparently his faith in its abilities are strengthened. An article from Discover Magazine called Shield of Dreams (only available in print for now, should be on the website in a month or so), provides a “A critical look at the science and technology required to build an antiballistic system that would make the United States... [More]

Texas Tea

Published by marco on

Alternet has an article on Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has two huge problems. One is crippling poverty and brutal winters in the mid-nineties that killed much of the population through malnutrition. The other is that:

<q>Geologists estimate that sitting beneath the wind-blown steppes of Kazakhstan are 50 billion barrels of oil — by far the biggest untapped reserves in the world. (Saudi Arabia, currently the world’s largest oil producer, is believed to have about 30 billion barrels remaining.)</q>... [More]

Chomsky interview on MSNBC

Published by marco on

Noam Chomsky was interviewed (again) on MSNBC on October 2, 2001. ZMag has the transcript. He touches on the failure of the U.S. propaganda system abroad (despite its resounding success on Americans):

<q>…the reason is that they can see with their own eyes what the facts are. When you produce false propaganda to people who can see that it’s false, it does not succeed. Just the way that we never believed Soviet propaganda. It was so obviously ridiculous that you just laughed at it.</q>

Also... [More]

…Let Slip the Dogs of War

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The U.S. started bombing Afghanistan yesterday. Seems we’re bombing someone new every couple of years or so. How surgical are the attacks? This is the same military that had to cheat on other ‘surgical strike’ tests…and still failed them. The same military that claimed surgical attacks in the Gulf War…and admitted later they lied and had killed about 200,000 people, many of them civilians. What kind of military installations are being targeted? I thought most places in Afghanistan didn’t... [More]

Here comes Big Brother

Published by marco on

There’s an excellent article on the NY Times Magazine site called A Cautionary Tale for a New Age of Surveillance. Note that it requires a NY Times account to view now. Sorry.

One company that seemed to be doing well in the wake of the attack on the WTC is Visionics. The CEO of Visionics voiced an understandable concern:

<q>How can we be alerted when someone is entering the subway? How can we be sure when someone is entering Madison Square Garden? How can we protect monuments? We need to... [More]

U.S Space Command (Noam Chomsky Redux)

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ZMag has another radio interview with Noam Chomsky by John Campbell. It discusses the 1992 Pentagon draft of the <u>Defense Planning Guide</u> (excerpts of which were published in the NY Times of March 8, 1992 and which I am hard-pressed to find any trace of myself):

<q>The US must hold global power and a monopoly of force. It will then protect the new order while allowing others to pursue their legitimate interests as Washington defines them. The US must account sufficiently for the interests... [More]

U.S chooses new U.N. Ambassador

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John Negroponte got a September 14th approval from the Senate to be the new U.S ambassador to the United Nations. Unfortunately, he may not last long if the call to “root out all terrorists” is to be carried out in full. This article in the Newsday discusses his history, particularly his involvement in Honduras in the early ‘80s.

<q>There, he was paymaster for an unsavory covert army known as the Contras, who, under the tutelage of the United States, waged a dirty little war against the... [More]

Offer aid to increase national security

Published by marco on

In the Newsday today, another pair of authors try to point out that all of this “tough talk” from the U.S. is not helping our actual national security.

<q>…what we really mean by “national security.” Do we choose the meaning it has had for 56 years − essentially domination and protection of the U.S. right to have its finger in every pie? Or do we mean the physical safety of the American people in their own country?</q>

What if we tried to change the basic feeling towards America in those... [More]

Did the U.S. sow what it reaped?

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The Economist argues in an opinion piece that regardless of the many ways in which the U.S. may have angered other countries, factions, religions and peoples, nothing it did could possibly explain an attack of such viciousness.

<q>America defends its interests, sometimes skilfully, sometimes clumsily, just as other countries do. Since power, like nature, abhors a vacuum, it steps into places where disorder reigns. On the whole, it should do so more, not less, often. Of all the great powers in... [More]

U.S. Finally Shares Evidence

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CNN reports that the U.S. has shared its evidence of links to Al Qaeda and Bin Laden to the September 11 attack.

<q>A senior Bush administration source said the United States provided phone records and bank records involving al Qaeda members. This source said the records also spelled out a bin Laden link between the September 11 attacks and last year’s attack on the USS Cole at the port of Aden, Yemen, as well as the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.</q>

Upon reviewing... [More]

Chomsky and ZMag reactions

Published by marco on

This interview with Noam Chomsky on ZMag is a question and answer session from September 19, 2001. It covers a range of topics involving terrorism, imperialism and, of course, the attack on September 11.

<q>… we should recognize that in much of the world the US is regarded as a leading terrorist state, and with good reason. We might bear in mind, for example, that the US was condemned by the World Court for “unlawful use of force” (international terrorism) and then vetoed a Security... [More]

Is it really just right and wrong?

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On the same day that the mayor of New York addressed the UN, Stuart Diamond writes in the Newsday:

“Here is how much of the world sees us: We consume 35 percent of the world’s resources with 5 percent of the people. Our AIDS victims get excellent medicines; theirs don’t. “Globalization” means our multinationals crowd out their local firms, creating jobless hardship. Health care, sanitation, education, transportation, heat and food are poor or nonexistent while we clean the plate. … We feel... [More]”

Bruce Schneier speaks

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Bruce Schneier, an extremely well known security and cryptography expert, examines ways of preventing future attacks and debunks several proposals by the U.S. government as placatives without real merit.

<q>Computer security experts have a lot of expertise that can be applied to the real world. First and foremost, we have well-developed senses of what security looks like. We can tell the difference between real security and snake oil. And the new airport security rules, put in place after... [More]

Taliban Oppression

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An article at has an extensive interview with a former Taliban enforcer. This man, with many others, formed the police force of the Taliban, charged with enforcing their ever-stricter and more oppressive rules. Their instructions were to:

<q>You must become so notorious for bad things that when you come into an area people will tremble in their sandals. Anyone can do beatings and starve people. I want your unit to find new ways of torture so terrible that the screams will... [More]

Eradication is the only way

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That’s the consensus opinion of today’s Newsday letters section. It’s full of cogent discourse like:

<q>If we fail to respond, make no mistake it will be perceived as empathy. The next time − and there will be a next time − will 20,000 American lives be lost? … I would like to ask the family and friends of those murdered by the hijackings if they want to “turn the other cheek.” … I’d feel terrible if I did less for my children than the previous generations have done for us.</q>
Does our... [More]

Why not go after Boeing?

Published by marco on

They’re the ones who made the planes which were turned into weapons of mass destruction. Sure, that sounds stupid. It’s because it is. That’s the same argument that has lulled most of the government and 94% (or whatever the current poll shows) of the people of America. This article on CNET discusses the holes in the argument against cryptography. There’s so many, it’s hard to know where to begin. I think most of the people for the anti-crypto measures know their argument doesn’t hold water, but... [More]

The only answer is a military one.

Published by marco on

In a recent New York Newsday, an editor, Howard Gardner, statemed in an article:

<q>If we can carve away that arrogance, replacing it with a tad of humility, we will gain the respect of the civilized world. And, in the process, we will so isolate the fanatics and terrorists that the rest of the world will shrink away from them.</q>

Andrew Targovnik of Syosset responds:

<q>…This is typical liberal utopian garbage. So let’s be humble and this will reduce terrorist attacks? Please. There’s... [More]

Guilty until proven innocent

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Apparently, we aren’t going to take the careful approach to not angering any more of the rest of the world. (Newsday: Buck Stops Here):

<q>The executive order is extremely broad in scope, allowing the government to freeze the assets not only of those who have committed terrorist acts but also of those who, in the government’s view, <q>pose a significant risk of committing</q> such acts. It further allows the government to move against those who aid terrorists, serve as fronts for them or are <q>... [More]

Quick, before they come to their senses!

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This is all happening quite quickly as well. A lot of measures are being pushed through. Attorney General John Ashcroft is imparting a sense of urgency to his own agenda for increased domestic surveillance powers (Newsday: Act Fast on Terrorism):

<q>[He] urged Congress to act expeditiously to broaden laws aimed at curbing terrorist activity in the United States, including allowing more detentions of legal immigrants, allowing expanded wiretaps on suspected terrorists and gaining greater access... [More]

Comprehension != Justification

Published by marco on

One response I’ve seen to these examinations of U.S. foreign policy is this letter in the Newsday:

<q>…Sheryl McCarthy and Jerry Falwell both agree that the United States brought disaster on itself. While Falwell says this is a punishment from God for our having become so secular, thus making the murderers agaents of God’s will, McCarthy sees this as the inevitable retribution for our national hubris and for having a foreign policy that is in our own best interests. This type of fuzzy... [More]

Is privacy such a big deal?

Published by marco on

There’s been a bit of a back and forth on the privacy issue in the last few days. JonKatz of Slashdot published an article that’s a complete turnaround from any of his past positions. It’s an interesting read in that it advocates avoiding ‘kneejerk’ reactions to protect privacy. I think that’s good. Kneejerk reactions are never good, it does everyone good to think about their positions and come up with cogent arguments.

However, I still think that this immediate jump to abrogating privacy in... [More]


Published by marco on

Looks like things are unfolding pretty much as they can be expected to. Troops are massing, reserves are called up. Osama Bin Laden goes from someone with a history of terrorism, to a possible suspect to the prime suspect to wanted dead or alive, all in a matter of days.

The President has pledged to rid the world of evil-doers and rout out terrorists and countries that harbor terrorists. The U.S. and its foreign policy is arguably the biggest evil-doer around and also happens to harbor the... [More]

Why was the WTC attacked?

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Those are the questions we have to ask. It’s not seditious to wonder whether the U.S. courted danger. Sedition is a word hopefully left buried in the past for this country. In order to prevent such things from happening again, we must try to understand why they happened.

The New York Newsday has a good overview of Afghanistan’s history and current situation.

For those at all curious on what could incite the attack on the WTC, go here for an interview with Osama Bin Laden.

Israelis and... [More]

U.S. Government wants encryption keys (again)

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It’s times like these that make ‘cynic’ seem to be synonymous with ‘realist’. No sooner can you start to worry about civil rights infringement than you find more cases of it being proposed than you can count.

How is it that the notion of preventing honest citizens from using encryption somehow increases our freedom from attack? Does Congress truly believe that terrorists who will stop at nothing will make sure to use only legal, government-sanctioned software with backdoors neatly in place? I... [More]

WTC Collapse was well-designed

Published by marco on

Why did the tower collapse? How did it manage to collapse so neatly? Was it a lucky hit?

Read More

The New Scientist also weighs in.

Civil Rights the next casualty?

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In the wake of the WTC attack, it is unfortunate to see the stirrings of government agencies that see this as an opportunity to legalize infringements of basic rights on Americans too shellshocked and/or frightened to resist.

Already, on Tuesday afternoon, the FBI was shopping their home-grown packet-sniffer, dubbed ‘Carnivore’, around to all the major ISPs again. This is a blatant, crude move that will likely work for many ISPs who don’t want to be seen as uncooperative or harboring terrorist... [More]