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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