Mexico’s Congress Legalizes Drugs for Personal Use .
Apr 28th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Mexico’s Congress Legalizes Drugs for Personal Use. Mexico’s Congress approved a bill Friday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin for personal use

My PC laptop (which runs Radio) failed last Thursday, so I sent it in for repair and got it back yesterday.
Apr 27th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

My PC laptop (which runs Radio) failed last Thursday, so I sent it in for repair and got it back yesterday. It lasted considerably longer than my Mac laptops, and it has a three year warranty, so I’m happy with the quality relative to the Macs. Still, it would be nice if a portable computer could actually be ported around without failing.

I’ll Take “Swords” for 600, Alex .
Apr 19th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

I’ll Take “Swords” for 600, Alex. Tacoma wants to ban them:bq. For more than a year now, Tacoma city officials have quietly struggled to find a way to regulate the sale of ancient weapons.

Swords. Throwing stars. Daggers. Knives. Crossbows.

Medieval stuff that freaks out average law-abiding citizen-types when they see it for sale at the corner store alongside candy bars and gum.

So far, the attempt has produced little in the way of results. Stanching the sale of drug paraphernalia proved easier.

The challenge for the city’s lawyers is figuring out how to update Tacoma’s “dangerous weapons” ordinance to stop a convenience store from selling a giant collectible sword, but not also make it illegal for Fred Meyer to sell a bread knife.

The city might end up adopting an ordinance that addresses swords and other weapons, but leaves out knives.The funny thing is, the council admits that this is purely symbolic. The entire effort to ban the convenience store swords is due to the fact that some people are “alarmed” by them. The swords they’re aiming to ban are too cheap to effectively be used as a weapon (a bread knife would be more effective), and the number of “sword” attacks in the area hasn’t gone up as a result of their sudden availability at the 7-11.

TrackBack (0) | [The Agitator]

I actually have a real sword. It’s not the kind of thing you’ll ever see for sale in a convenience store. Real swords are quite expensive (mine cost as much as a good pistol) and very hard to use. I have some idea how a sword is supposed to be used, but I don’t actually know how to use mine. For some random person who’s seen Conan the Barbarian too many times, he’d probably do more damage with a baseball bat.

Fitzgerald probe: Sen.
Apr 18th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Fitzgerald probe: Sen. Clinton withdrew stolen funds from Grenada bank. Tom Flocco – have your grain of salt ready. If true, however, this could put Bill & Hillary Clinton and Bush Senior in prison for a long, long time. I won’t hold my breath. [email]


Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is in possession of filmed evidence allegedly showing Senator Hillary Clinton entering Bank Crozier in the British territory of Grenada during early 2003 for the purpose of withdrawing stolen and laundered U.S. Treasury funds for alleged personal use after presenting the bank with CIA code numbers in her capacity as a U.S. senator, CIA operative and wife of a former president, according to a team of intelligence sources.

[End the War on Freedom – Links and Commentary from my Crypto-Anarcho-Libertarian Perspective]

One of the things I’ve noticed about conspiracy theorists is that they’re amazingly ignorant, which leads them to make claims that include obviously wrong information. For example, Grenada is an independent nation, not a British territory, as anyone who was watching the news in the 1980s would know. Surely it wouldn’t have been too hard for whoever made up this story to look up an actual British territory with a reputation for international banking?

Deniable File System .
Apr 18th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Deniable File System. Some years ago I did some design work on something I called a Deniable File System. The basic idea was the fact that the existence of ciphertext can in itself be incriminating, regardless of whether or not anyone can decrypt it. I wanted to create a file system that was deniable: where encrypted files looked like random noise, and where it was impossible to prove either the existence or non-existence of encrypted files.

This turns out to be a very hard problem for a whole lot of reasons, and I never pursued the project. But I just discovered a file system that seems to meet all of my design criteria — Rubberhose:

bq. Rubberhose transparently and deniably encrypts disk data, minimising the effectiveness of warrants, coersive interrogations and other compulsive mechanims, such as U.K RIP legislation. Rubberhose differs from conventional disk encryption systems in that it has an advanced modular architecture, self-test suite, is more secure, portable, utilises information hiding (steganography / deniable cryptography), works with any file system and has source freely available.

The devil really is in the details with something like this, and I would hesitate to use this in places where it really matters without some extensive review. But I’m pleased to see that someone is working on this problem.

Next request: A deniable file system that fits on a USB token, and leaves no trace on the machine it’s plugged into. [Schneier on Security]

This looks promising. Currently it’s only available for Unix, but supposedly the authors are planning a Windows port.

Doctorow: The novel Heinlein would have written about GW Bush’s America .
Apr 18th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Doctorow: The novel Heinlein would have written about GW Bush’s America. In reviewing John Varley’s new novel Red Lightning, Cory Doctorow gets in his usual slams against the Bush Administration while spouting the canards regarding Heinlein and reveals that he never really read any of the Old Man’s novels.

Reading Heinlein’s novels finds a strong streak of antiauthoritarianism in most of his protagonists, thinly veiled warnings regarding investing the state with too much power, and an acknowledgment that it’s up to individuals to contain the power of that government. Hardly the stuff of right wing politics as defined today.

Trying to peg Heinlein to some arbitrary Left-Right political axis is an exercise doomed to failure, as well as the mark of a lazy intellect. Shoddy work, and hardly in character for a writer I respect as much as Mr. Doctorow.
[code: theWebSocket;]

After reading Cory Doctorow’s review, I’m left with the impression that Mr. Hawkins didn’t. Here’s what he has to say on Heinlein:

bq. Heinlein was an ideological libertarian. You could call his politics right wing, and they were, on many of the left-right axes. But Heinlein never would have sat still for the Patriot Act and the daily and deep incursions on liberties that have come to characterise life in America and increasingly Britain and other parts of the world. He never would have accepted that you had to take away freedom to save liberty.

As someone who is an “ideological libertarian” and has read Heinlein’s books, this seems pretty obvious to me. It’s pretty well known to libertarians that people who identify themselves as progressives regard libertarians as “right wing,” just as people who identify themselves as conservatives regard libertarians as “left wing.” It’s also pretty obvious from his writing that Heinlein would react just as Doctorow thinks he would.

News: Symantec hit with $1 billion tax bill .
Apr 18th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

News: Symantec hit with $1 billion tax bill. The IRS has billed Symantec $1 billion in back taxes. [Macworld]

bq. The IRS claims that both Symantec and Veritas Software Corp. under-priced intellectual property the two companies licensed to their Irish subsidiaries, said Symantec spokeswoman Genevieve Haldeman. Both Symantec and Veritas, which was purchased by Symantec in 2005, set up the Irish subsidiaries for the purpose of doing business outside of the U.S., she said.

Clearly whoever is responsible for making campaign contributions hasn’t been doing a good job.

NRO: In Search of Chivalry .
Apr 17th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

NRO: In Search of Chivalry. Carrie Lukas wonders about chivalry in the age of feminism, and commits a fundamental error:

bq. Gentlemanly conduct isn’t about women at all. It’s about men and their sense of themselves. Paul Anderson continues to say that he would give up his seat to someone truly in need, such as the elderly, pregnant women, and the disabled. But that’s not gentlemanly, that’s just humane.

Nonsense. Chivalry is not about a man’s sense of self. Chivalry is about survival – not individual survival, but rather that of the species. The acts of the men on the Titanic – placing the survival of women and children before their own – is evolution in action.

Societies that forget that simple premise are doomed.
[code: theWebSocket;]

They’re both wrong. Chivalry is about a bunch of inbred morons charging across a muddy field towards a defensive position held by 5,000 longbowmen.

Lucy, Charlie Brown & the Football As amazing as it is, there is no question that a certain political segment of our country really is in full-on war-mongering mode
Apr 17th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Lucy, Charlie Brown & the Football As amazing as it is, there is no question that a certain political segment of our country really is in full-on war-mongering mode with regard to Iran. What’s most startling about it is that they are not even attempting to do anything differently. It’s all exactly the same.

Thus, we have Weekly Standard and National Review prattling on about all sorts of scary stories showing that Iran is an uncontainable danger (invariably as a result of hostile overtures towards Israel, but that doesn’t seem to matter, just like it didn’t last time); we have New Republic publishing a cover story, complete with all-too-familiar cartoons showing demonic Iranian leaders, which enable people like Jonah Goldberg, on simplistic script, to recite: “Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s the American right which is trying to “demonize” Ahmadinejad” (yes, what a revealing shock it is that even The New Republic has jumped on the War-Against-Iran craze);

But what is really most alarming — although, I know, it shouldn’t be surprising at all — is that the American media seems not just willing, but tongue-waggingly pleased, to be exploited and used again, in the best tradition of Pravda, as the principal mechanism for venerating governmental claim as though they constitute “news,” without even pretending to subject those claims to the slightest bit of skepticism or scrutiny. This Washington Post article by John Pomfret, entitled “Iran Has Raised Efforts to Obtain U.S. Arms Illegally, Official Says,” is really a museum-worth model for the type of mindlessly trustworthy “journalism”which convinced most Americans that Saddam had WMDs (and even that he personally participated in the planning of the 9/11 attacks), which, in turn, led us right into the invasion of Iraq.

The article is long and gives the appearance of being detailed and substantive, but in reality, it does nothing but slavishly print the uncorroborated statements of Bush officials claiming that Iran is engaged in all sorts of nefarious weapons-procuring activities, and has intensified (!) these activities of late. Thus, we “learn”:

bq. The Iranian government has intensified efforts to illegally obtain weapons technology from the United States, contracting with dealers across the country for spare parts to maintain its aging American-made air force planes, its missile forces and its alleged nuclear weapons program, according to federal law enforcement authorities.

Over the past two years, arms dealers have exported or attempted to export to Iran experimental aircraft; machines used for measuring the strength of steel, which is critical in the development of nuclear weapons; assembly kits for F-14 Tomcat fighter jets; and a range of components used in missile systems and fighter-jet engines.

“Iran’s weapons acquisition program is becoming more organized,” said Stephen Bogni, acting chief of the Arms and Strategic Technology Investigations Unit of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “They are looking for more varied and sophisticated technology. Night-vision equipment, unmanned aircraft, missile technology” and weapons of mass destruction.

I love the “and weapons of mass destruction” oh-so-inconspicuously tacked onto the quote at the end. The next two paragraphs begin, respectively, with these two phrases: “Federal agents say” and “The Bush administration says,” and the rest of the article. The reporter’s sole effort to investigate the claims? “Calls for comment to the Iranian Mission to the United Nations were not returned.” Gosh, I hope he didn’t strain himself.

Of all the dysfunctional aspects of our governmental system, this is, by far, the most dangerous. This is how most journalism works now. The Government wants to implant certain claims as “facts” into the public discourse. It then contacts the most slavish reporters, promises them exclusivity, and then feeds them a bunch of highly dubious claims which the reporter then dutifully and mindlessly publishes as though it is fact, without any corroboration, investigation, or anything else that distinguishes journalism from other fields such as, say, government propaganda, public relations, or stenography.

There are no critical faculties exercised, no investigation, no skepticism of any kind. In short, there is nothing adversarial between the government and the media — which was supposed to characterize how this watchdog relationship was supposed to work. The founders didn’t guarantee a free press in order to ensure that it could publish government claims without interference. The idea was that the press would be adversarial to the Government, serve as a Fourth Estate when other checks on government power failed. The press has, of course, become the opposite — it now exists only to amplify and lend credence to even the most suspect and manipulative government claims.

The press simply does not perform its central function. In 2003, that core failure led us into an invasion of another country based on pretenses which turned out, in almost every respect, to be false, and clearly they have learned no lessons from that humiliating exploitation. Why did we need this Post article? What is the difference between it and a Bush administration press release. Nothing. It is difficult to be optimistic about much of anything when the longest articles in our nation’s largest newspapers about the most pressing public affairs are indistinguishable — literally — from government press releases.

As for the geniuses at New Republic, Weekly Standard, National Review, etc., who were wrong about basically everything when it came to Iraq — how is it possible to be rational and do anything other than disregard everything which this exact crowd says about everything? But more importantly, the media was fed all sorts of fictitious garbage from the Bush administration in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion which they gullibly published, to their eternal embarrassment. How can they possibly not be exercising more caution this type? – Glenn Greenwald [Unclaimed Territory – by Glenn Greenwald]

Why should they bother changing when there were no consequences to them the last time?

Iraq protest officer says US behaved ‘like Nazis’ .
Apr 17th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Iraq protest officer says US behaved ‘like Nazis’. Peter Graff and Shan Ross at The Scotsman – Malcolm Kendall-Smith, a British RAF doctor refused to follow an order to deploy to Iraq. At his trial, he said that he had decided that the United States is acting like Nazis. [grabbe]


Kendall-Smith made his remarks amid a series of bitter exchanges with David Perry, prosecuting, at a hearing in Aldershot, Hampshire.
“As early as 2004 I regarded the United States to be on par with Nazi Germany as regards its activities in the Gulf,” Kendall-Smith told the court.
Mr Perry, asking Kendall-Smith for clarification, said: “Are you saying the US is the moral equivalent of the Third Reich?”
Kendall-Smith replied: “That’s correct.”
He then continued: “I have documents in my possession which support my assertions.
“This is on the basis that ongoing acts of aggression in Iraq, and systematically applied war crimes, provide a moral equivalent between the US and Nazi Germany.”

[End the War on Freedom – Links and Commentary from my Crypto-Anarcho-Libertarian Perspective]

Good for him. It’s nice to know that at least one man is willing to do what everyone in the US military is obligated by their oath of service to do.

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