Remote-Control Hijacking
Jul 28th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Remote-Control Airplane Software.

Does anyone other than me see a problem with this?

Some 30 European businesses and research institutes are working to create software that would make it possible from a distance to regain control of an aircraft from hijackers, according to the German news magazine.

The system “which could only be controlled from the ground would conduct the aircraft posing a problem to the nearest airport whether it liked it or not,” according to extracts from next Monday’s Der Spiegel released Saturday.

“A hijacker would have no chance of reaching his goal,” it said.

Unless his goal were, um, hijacking the aircraft.

It seems to me that by designing remote-control software for airplanes, you open the possibility for someone to hijack the plane without even being on board. Sure, there are going to be computer-security controls protecting this thing, but we all know how well that sort of thing has worked in the past.

The system would be designed in such a way that even a computer hacker on board could not get round it.

But what about about computer hackers on the ground?

I’m not saying this is a bad idea; it might be a good idea. But this security countermeasure opens up an entirely new vulnerability, and I hope that someone is studying that new vulnerability.

[Schneier on Security]

I’ll say it’s a bad idea. With this system in place, hijackers wouldn’t need to take any risks at all. In fact, they wouldn’t even need to leave their homes. Just what we need–“pajamas media” turning into “pajamas terrorists.”

I want Ariel Sharon back
Jul 27th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Israeli Justice Minister: IDF entitled to Kill Everyone in South Lebanon.

From the BBC today:

Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon “said that in order to prevent casualties among Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops moved in.
He added that Israel had given the civilians of southern Lebanon ample time to quit the area and therefore anyone still remaining there could be considered a Hezbollah supporter. “All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah,” Mr Ramon said.


Ramon made these comments on Israeli Army radio.  He was apparently not asked about the IDF’s practice of blowing up the cars full of civilians fleeing south Lebanon.

Ramon has made stark the standards that the Israelis are using, and there is no excuse for any American politician or citizen to continue denying that the Israelis are not intentionally targeting civilians en masse.


I’m reminded of an article from an Israeli newspaper that I commented on several years ago:

“Herut MK Michael Kleiner outraged MKs when he proposed to Sharon that the IDF carpet bomb Palestinian cities. He was responding to Sharon’s request that the MKs in the committee propose ways to deal with the terror problem. When Sharon said Israel has no intention of harming the civilian population that is not involved in terror, Kleiner interrupted. “Are the 100,000 people who attended Salah Shehadeh’s funeral innocent?”

Kleiner explained that a quick victory was within reach if Israel took the right steps. “Just like the Americans bombed the German city of Dresden in World War II, and they bombed Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, we should do the same.” He proposed an IDF plane drop leaflets warning people to leave their homes in time, and that the bridges to Jordan be kept open “because after the bombing the people won’t have anywhere to return.”

Sharon angrily shot down the idea. “I would never do such horrible things. That would be an enormous mistake. You do it when you’re prime minister,” he said to Kleiner. MK Ran Cohen, chairman of the committee, summed up, “Kleiner’s proposal is as disgusting as the suicide bombings.”

Sadly, Sharon (who was far less ruthless in office than his history had led me to expect) is gone, and while Kleiner isn’t the Prime Minister, Olmert seems to be just as bad.

No photos of the samurai
Jul 27th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Man Arrested for Taking Cell Phone Pic of Cops.

Philadelphia resident Neftaly Cruz says that when he heard a commotion outside his house, he walked out of his back door with his cell phone to see what was happening. When he saw the street lined with police cars, he decided to take a picture of the scene.

“I opened (the phone) and took a shot,” Cruz said.

Moments later, Cruz said he got the shock of his life when an officer came to his back yard gate.

“He opened the gate and took me by my right hand,” Cruz said.

Cruz said the officer threw him onto a police car, cuffed him and took him to jail.

…Cruz said police told him that he broke a new law that prohibits people from taking pictures of police with cell phones.

“They threatened to charge me with conspiracy, impeding an investigation, obstruction of a investigation. … They said, ‘You were impeding this investigation.’ (I asked,) “By doing what?’ (The officer said,) ‘By taking a picture of the police officers with a camera phone,’” Cruz said.–NBC 10

Police say they were in Cruz’s neighborhood that night arresting a drug dealer. So what? How does taking a picture of police activity make Neftaly Cruz a criminal? When citizens are spied upon by the police, they are told, “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.” Shouldn’t the same apply to our public servants performing their duties on a public street?

[Police State USA]

I’m actually surprised that such arrests aren’t more common–the last thing the samurai class wants is a bunch of peasants seeing what they’re up to. I’ve heard it said that cops react to cameras the way vampires do to crosses–while amusing, it’s unfortunately not true.

Notice this part in particular:

Cruz, a Penn State University senior, said that after about an hour police told him he was lucky because there was no supervisor on duty, so they released him.

“They said if the supervisor was there I wouldn’t be a free man and that he is letting me go because he felt that I was a good person,” Cruz said.

Translation: the supervisor who was on duty told the arresting officer that Cruz hadn’t broken any laws and had to be released.

Bigotry is learned behavior
Jul 26th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

kids say the darndest things!. I like Kinsella’s baby quote. One thing I’ll never forget is my husband’s nephew’s memorable words, when he was five. Now this was a time when he had 4 older sisters (two of them teenagers) from whom he learned phrases,… [ Blog]

It’s pretty well known that bigots learn their bigotry from those around them. Here is a (sad, disgusting) real-world example.

Interview with a mountain man
Jul 26th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Peruvian Gothic. Don Benigno Aazco carved his way 36 years deep into the green heart of the Andean forest, founded 14 settlements, abandoned his wife and many children, married his daughter, slew his son-in-law, fought drug peddlers, tamed the wilderness, and reclaimed, as best he could, the Inca Empire. And now I was going to find him. [Outside Online]

The author did find him. This is one of those true stories that makes Hollywood adventure movies look boring in comparison. It’s like looking two hundred years into America’s past, when the mountain men were starting to head west of the Appalachians.

Poor target selection by the MPAA
Jul 25th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Shawn Hogan, Hero. Last November, Shawn Hogan received an unsettling call: A lawyer representing Universal Pictures and the Motion Picture Association of America informed the 30-year-old software developer that they were suing him for downloading Meet the Fockers over BitTorrent. Hogan was baffled. Not only does he deny the accusation, he says he already owned the film on DVD. The attorney said they would settle for $2,500. Hogan declined.


Hogan, who coded his way to millions as the CEO of Digital Point Solutions, is determined to change this. Though he expects to incur more than $100,000 in legal fees, he thinks it’s a small price to pay to challenge the MPAA’s tactics. “They’re completely abusing the system,” Hogan says. “I would spend well into the millions on this.” [Wired]

I’ll bet whatever low-level functionary put Hogan on the victim list is in a lot of trouble with his superiors right now. The MPAA’s bogus lawsuit tactic depends on their targets being unable to afford to fight back.

Probably if it looks like he’s going to win (and I suspect he will), the MPAA will suddenly decide to drop the suit, so as to avoid a precedent that would keep them from terrorizing their customers in the future.

We’re the Only Ones. Not You. Us.
Jul 22nd, 2006 by Ken Hagler

We’re the Only Ones. Not You. Us..

A knife-wielding grocery store employee attacked eight co-workers Friday, seriously injuring five before a witness pulled a gun and stopped him, police said.

Let’s see…knife-wielding maniac, everybody being victimized, no cops around, what will stop this guy…?

Not resisting? Nope.

Giving him what he wants? Uh, I think he’s showing us what he wants.

A hoplophobe? Sorry.

An armed citizen? Bingo!

Lesson here for all to see? A moral person with a gun can not only defend themselves, but also those around them.

“Sour grapes” reaction from “The Only Ones“?

Higgins said police were pulling into the parking lot as Cope was confronting the attacker.

“We commend him,” Higgins said. “But we don’t encourage people to take that kind of risk. He could have been hurt.”

What kind of risk does Higgins recommend people take? Waiting around for them to respond doesn’t have risks?

And note the armed citizen resolved this without firing a shot–that is, rather than a gun in private hands being used to kill, here’s a real world example of a citizen using a handgun to restore the peace and save lives–both of the victim and the attacker.

[Thanks to Fourteen Alpha]
[The War on Guns]

It’s fortunate this happened in Tennessee. Here in Los Angeles, the psycho’s victims would have been expected to die quietly and not rock the boat by defending themselves.

More government uselessness
Jul 21st, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Takeover Robbers Target Restaurants. In fact, Barone’s was just the latest Los Angeles restaurant to be robbed. While crime continues to fall across the city, police are struggling to contain a sharp jump in armed robberies. Authorities are particularly concerned about a series of takeover robberies targeting restaurants. In the San Fernando Valley alone, upward of 200 have been hit in the last two years. Officials in other parts of Southern California also report an increase in the crime.

Detectives say the holdups are the work of several groups of bandits targeting smaller, sit-down eateries, usually as owners are counting cash at closing time.


“What we are seeing in some respects is displacement,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Earl Paysinger. “It’s more opportunistic hitting restaurants. They see a mom-and-pop restaurant, and that doesn’t come close to being as fortified as a bank. And they take that opportunity, using the same type of aggressive behavior.” [Los Angeles Times]

And how do our lords and masters want to respond? Like this:

The problem has become so severe that Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton and other city officials are supporting state legislation that would give up to two years of extra prison time to robbers who use masks.

Yeah, that will show them. And consider this:

“These robbers are more likely to be vicious to their victims because their identities are masked,” said Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, who represents the Ventura Boulevard shopping corridor where many restaurants have been hit.

She may be onto something there. Perhaps she should ask chief Bratton if any of his troops ever mask their identities.

Predictably, nothing in the article even hints at the real solution to this problem. Under California state law, employees may be armed at their workplace with their employer’s permission. Since these restaurants are “mom-and-pop” operations, they don’t have to worry about any distant corporate overseers ordering them to remain helpless.

Hezbollah and Israeli government win, ordinary people lose
Jul 21st, 2006 by Ken Hagler

RODERICK T. LONG: Victory Through Victim-Swapping.

[cross-posted at Austro-Athenian Empire]

By most reports, Israeli bombings of Lebanon are strengthening Hezbollah’s support among Lebanese civilians, while Hezbollah bombings of Israel are strengthening the Israeli government’s support among Israeli civilians.

So here we have (what are by libertarian standards) two criminal gangs, both blasting away at innocent civilians, and the result is to increase these gangs’ popularity among the civilians being victimised! A very successful outcome for both sides.

The trick, of course, is that each gang is blasting away at civilians in the other gang’s territory. If each gang were to attack its own civilians directly, those civilians would quickly turn against the gangs in their midst. But since in fact each side’s continuation of bombings is what allows the other side to excuse, and get away with, its bombings, the situation isn’t really all that different; each side is causing its own civilians to be bombed. It’s just that by following the stratagem of attacking each other’s civilians, the two gangs manage to avoid (and indeed promote the exact opposite of) the loss of domestic power that would follow if they were to bring about the same results more directly. Think of it as the geopolitical version of Strangers on a Train.

No, I’m not suggesting that Hezbollah and the Israeli government are in cahoots. They don’t need to be. This is how the logic of statism works, this is how its incentives play out, regardless of what its agents specifically intend. The externalisation of costs is what states do best. (True, Hezbollah isn’t a state, but it aspires to be one, and its actions are played out within a framework sustained by statism.)

What would happen if the civilian populations of Israel and Lebanon were to come to see this conflict, not as Israel versus Hezbollah, or even Israeli-government-plus-Israeli-civilians versus Hezbollah-plus-Lebanese-civilians, but rather as Israeli-government-plus-Hezbollah versus ordinary-people-living-on-the-eastern-Mediterranean? Both Hezbollah and the Israeli government would quickly lose their popular support, and their ability to wage war against each other would go with it.

But by encouraging the identification of civilians with the states that rule them, statism makes it harder for civilians to find their way to such a perspective. (Of course racism and religious intolerance are part of the story too – yet another way in which such cultural values help to prop up the state apparatus.) As long as the people of the eastern Mediterranean continue to view this conflict through statist spectacles, Hezbollah and/or the Israeli government will continue to be the victors, while the civilian populace in both Israel and Lebanon will remain the vanquished and victimised.

[Liberty & Power: Group Blog]

A very good point. I thought it was obvious from the beginning that Hezbollah and the Israeli government had each decided that they wanted to have a war, and that it was definitely not to the benefit of civilians in Israel or Lebanon. Even the mainstream media has acknowledged this to some extent–or at least, the Los Angeles Times has.

Belkin Skype phone of limited utility
Jul 20th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Belkin Wi-Fi phone for Skype allows users to make free calls. Belkin today announced its new Wi-Fi Phone for Skype,which gives users the increased mobility to place free, unlimited domestic and international calls over the Internet to other Skype users, and low-cost calls to ordinary phones worldwide… [MacMinute]

It’s an interesting idea, but Belkin’s FAQ indicates that it doesn’t work with access points that use browser-based authentication–which rules out a great many public access points, such as those found in the ubiquitous Starbucks chain.

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