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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]

Quote:

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.

& 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"> 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 911 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]

Quote:

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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