Friday, April 29, 2005

Califoria and RFIDs

California seems to be leading the way for protecting its citizens from RFID tracking in Government documents. Wired is reporting that a new bill that would limit,how government can use RFID's and limit the range that the readers can work. After it came up as an issue in a northern California school district, the state took up the issue.
chip closeup
Photo Credit: intuitives
The bill that just left committee also would outlaw skimming -- which occurs when an unauthorized person with an electronic reading device surreptitiously reads the electronic information on an RFID chip without the knowledge of the person carrying or wearing the chip.

The bill does allow for a number of exceptions for the use of RFID, such as devices used for paying bridge and road tolls, ID badges used for inmates housed in prisons or mental health facilities, or ID bracelets and badges used for children under the age of four who are in the care of a government-operated medical facility.

The bill allows agencies to obtain additional exceptions to the ban if they can prove to the legislature that there is a compelling state interest. More...
Wired: State Bill to Limit RFID

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Bolton Chronicles

John R. Bolton
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Things are beginning to get interesting with John Bolton's nomination to the U.N. It appears that he may have been at the State Department in part to spy on Colin Powell:
"Staff members on the committee [vetting Bolton] believe that Bolton was spying on Powell, his senior advisers and other officials reporting to him on diplomatic initiatives that Bolton opposed." Blumenthal continues that "it is also possible that Bolton was sharing this top-secret information with his neoconservative allies within the Pentagon and the vice-president's office, with whom he was in daily contact and who were known to be working in league against Powell." read more ...
The committee has demanded that the State Department release the intercepts to members of the committee. But Secretary Rice has refused the committee's requests.

On a related issue a letter co-signed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar and Ranking Member Joseph Biden requesting that the 10 NSA intercept transcripts requested by John Bolton during his tenure as Under Secretary of State be made available to Senators and cleared senior Committee staff.

Related Articles:
The good soldier's revenge
Colin Powell as Enemy of the State
Lugar and Biden Unite on NSA Transcripts Request

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Is business war?

Photo Credit: escargotte

I've been sort of following the progress of various Soldier for hire groups for some time. Thinking that this trend of Corporate War, was a trend back to the Private armies of state, like the West India Company of the 16th - 17th Century. But this article on Defense Tech has place them in a whole new light for me. Namely that in this new warfare that counts on these new companies so heavily to support US military forces, both logistically and with trigger pullers. They are extremely vulnerable to being crippled by having their CEO's kidnapped or killed. Unlike the military that has chains of command to deal with their head officers being compromised in this way. What are the rules for Corporations operating in these theaters?
The CEO as an Objective of War
CEO kidnapping isn't new. It is common practice in Brazil, Mexico, etc. The difference in Iraq is the motive. In Iraq, it isn't purely financial gain. It is being used as a way to unravel the fledgling Iraqi government..... Read more from Global Guerrillas blog

And the example given by Defense Tech.

That's because the CEO is so central -- too central, in fact -- to his company's success. It makes him "a single point of failure for the entire corporate organism," Robb says. With companies so important these days to the American war effort, this centrality makes CEOs "better targets than government or military officials."


Government Backing off on RFID's in Passports -- Sort of

Photo Credit: veralu
Wired is reporting that Feds are rethinking RFID Passport That is good news but they are still going to us these devices in new passports, only now they will at least have encryption of some sort now.
Following criticism from computer security professionals and civil libertarians about the privacy risks posed by new RFID passports the government plans to begin issuing, a State Department official said his office is reconsidering a privacy solution it rejected earlier that would help protect passport holders' data.

The solution would require an RFID reader to provide a key or password before it could read data embedded on an RFID passport's chip. It would also encrypt data as it's transmitted from the chip to a reader so that no one could read the data if they intercepted it in transit. More...

Shakespeare Podcast

Shakespeare with ipod
I came across this on Podcast News and thought it was a cool idea. A podcast on Shakespeare.
New Podcast Reveals Mysteries of Shakespeare
A new podcast promises to reveal the mysteries of Shakespeare. The podcast feature excerpts from author Mark Anderson's new book "Shakespeare" by Another Name, which examines the puzzles that have long haunted the identity of history’s greatest author....
The Shakespeare By Another Name Podcasts can be found at the website by the same name. It looks as if he'll be giving excepts twice a month from now through August.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Matrix Reborn

Photo Credit: mikekorn
It appears that the project called the Matrix (A project to find enemies of the state in the credit card records, marriage licenses, and vehicle registration data of average citizens) that was canceled, is not so dead after all. It appears that Florida is restarting that project in some form. I really don't see the need for this project. And it is so ripe for abuse. It just shows that some people will always want to keep track of the population in general terms. While these things sound good from the perspective of fear of terror attacks, in practice the only people really hurt are the people being protected by these systems.

Wired Article: Florida Planning Son of Matrix

Friday, April 22, 2005


Earth, wind and diver
Photo Credit: klausen

Get out and enjoy Earthday 2005!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Culture Wars?

I was listening to Day To Day on NPR, and they had segment with Slate's Mickey Kaus who has a blog called kausfiles. The thing that struck me was that we are moving every closer to the point, where as a country, it would be hard to comeback for the totalitarian state we are moving towards. The Republican majority is forcing an ideolog on us that is fascist in nature. Kaus on his blog has brought up facts that I was unaware.
The Coming Culture War Over Gay TV: two facts together:

1) The FCC is coming under pressure to regulate cable TV for decency. President Bush at least temporarily seemed to endorse the idea and the new chairman of the FCC seems to be heading in that direction.

2) Viacom plans to launch Logo, a gay-oriented basic cable channel at the end of June

This combined with stories on the future of the Filibuster are showing these people, for what short sightedness we have in government today. These politicians wish to control large aspects of our life. From morality (the bible is now part of the curriculum in 300 school districts nationwide treated as literature), low paying jobs so that business gets cheap labor and large tax breaks, to our freedom of speech being taken away. These remind me of a quote from Cicero (c. 106-43 B.C.)
A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI

Joseph Alois Ratzinger
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
We have a New Pope. Pope Benedict XVI, was Cardinal Josef Ratzinger the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (aka; The High Inquisitor, enforcer of church doctrine). This is the person who now leads the Catholic Church. So instead of giving the world a pope who would deal with the social issues effecting the church in the developing world. You are given a German intellectual who wants to turn back the clock, to a time before the reforms of the sixties and Vatican II. Given his statements before the conclave he is opposed to may things in the modern world. It appears that the decline of the church is at hand, falling prey to the global rise of Fundamentalism world wide effecting major religions. I could be wrong, he could deal with the short falls of priest world wide, disease and other social problems that John Paul II failed to deal with in any effective way. But only time will tell. And at 78 there is no telling how much time he has in office.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Laser Signals for Airspace Breaches

It looks as if the government is about to start to us lasers to alert planes they have entered restricted airspace, according to the Washington Post yesterday.
Laser Green Light
Photo Credit: junious
Lasers To Signal Airspace Breaches
The U.S. military will begin using an elaborate network of cameras and lasers next month to scan the sky over Washington and flash colored warning beams at aircraft that enter the nation's most restricted metropolitan airspace.

About a dozen high-powered cameras at unidentified locations will be able to zoom in on an airplane anywhere in the restricted airspace, which covers a 30 mile radius around each of the Washington area's three major airports. Red and green laser beams attached to the cameras will then warn the aircraft to leave the area.
This set off some warning bells in my head. Isn't this what happened to some airplanes coming in for landingsaround the country?( See: Man Indicted In Airplane Laser Incident) And while they accert that it is not harmful.
Runway Beacon & Plane
Photo Credit: wellerpics
Unlike pointers
and other eye-damaging lasers that have raised safety concerns among pilots, the military's beams are low-intensity and safe enough for the eyes yet distinctive enough to alert pilots that something's wrong, officials say. From government building rooftops, the lasers will pinpoint an aircraft from 20 miles away and flash a quick red-red-green sequence repeatedly. The cameras will be overseen by NORAD officials from multiple locations, including Colorado Springs; Cheyenne, Wyo.; and the Washington area. NORAD operators will activate the laser beams if a pilot does not respond to radio contact or an aircraft intercept. more...
I don't think that this "Safe low level laser" is all that it'll do. It would be easy to have it on a gradated power scale, so if the pilot didn't respond to the warning flashes then they would simply up the power and do damage to the flight crew or the aircraft. thus neutralizing the threat.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

RFID & the Surveillance State

Photo Credit: parker62
Apparently there was an interesting conference just held in Seattle called: The Conference on Computers, Freedom & Privacy(CFP) at which this blogger Edward W. Felten cornered a Government Rep who had been their to give the governments point of view on RFID's and Passports. And had the opportunity asked him some questions. I have to agree that his responses seem pretty weak.
Why Use Remotely-Readable Passports?
In the Q&A session, I asked Mr. Moss directly why the decision was made to use a remotely readable chip rather than one that can only be read by physical contact. Technically, this decision is nearly indefensible, unless one wants to be able to read passports without notifying their owners -- which, officially at least, is not a goal of the U.S. government's program. Mr. Moss gave a pretty weak answer, which amounted to an assertion that it would have been too difficult to agree on a standard for contact-based reading of passports. This wasn't very convincing, since the smart-card standard could be applied to passports nearly as-is -- the only change necessary would be to specify exactly where on the passport the smart-card contacts would be. The standardization and security problems associated with contactless cards seem to be much more serious. Read More....

Hopefully the End is Near for Delay

Tom Delay
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
I am hoping that this drama will be over soon, with the removal of Tom Delay as Majority Leader in the House. He is a symbol of all that is wrong with are government and the Republican party. At every turn they have changed the rules to protect him from his controversies. The Country an the law be dammed.

The Nation has an interesting timeline of Delay responding to questions and his one size fits all response of, "it's the Liberal Media and Democrats."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Photo Credit: webed
More Discussion on the draft from
Destroying the ‘Cannon Fodder’ Myth
The debate over reemploying a military draft in this country will continue as long as the combat services report recruiting shortfalls and manpower shortages, particularly in the Army and Marine Corps.

But one particular debate tactic we witnessed last year – that a draft is preferable to the all-volunteer military because minorities and low-income Americans have suffered the brunt of casualties since 9/11 – has been thoroughly and properly discredited once and for all. More...

Monday, April 11, 2005


This is a cool site that I came across called Buzztracker. The cool thing is they plot on an interactice map, all the stories on google news' main page for the day. So that you can get a visual of how stories relate around the world. The red circles are the location of the subject story with the lines tracing back to the news source location.

Buzztracker for 4-12-2005
buzztracker 4-12-2005

A Question of the Draft

soldiers 2
Photo Credit: mistereels

As I have stated before, I feel that the draft is going to be reinstated before the end of this year. Due to shortfalls in man power in the Military as people begin to leave the National Guard and Reserves. If that is the case more people have to discuss what this will mean, in order to have a fair distribution of the population represented. While I don't agree with everything in this article I feel it is important that some are discussing it.

An Alternative to the Draft
“Instead of a lottery, the federal government would impose a requirement that no four-year college or university be allowed to accept a student, male or female, unless and until that student had completed a 12-month to two-year term of service. Unlike an old-fashioned draft, this 21st-century service requirement would provide a vital element of personal choice.” more...

The top three reasons for humans in space

Photo Credit: eyecrave
The Space Review has a piece on reasons for us to go into space.
Lists of reasons for human spaceflight are readily available. The National Space Society has a detailed list, and has its Top 3 and Top 10. Nonetheless, there is a need for a concise list that can be easily recalled—perhaps something like this:

Humans are in space:
3. To work
2. To live
1. To survive

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Is Rummy endangering America?

Military Monument - Navy
Photo Credit: Resseguie
It looks as if Rumsfeld's next target is the navy. After gutting the Army and Marines, refusing to enlarge their active duty numbers. It looks as if the navy is also going to get some major cuts. This article from in titled The Incredible Shrinking U.S. Navy, points out that are navy is now less then 300 ships and falling. Down from over 500 in 1991 with reductions in all classes of ships, of most importance the reduction of Submarines and aircraft carriers. It appears in this more dangerous world Rummy does not feel to concerned with recent actions of china and/or North Korea. With most of are ground forces tried up in Southwest Asia who else other than the navy is their to deal with other hot spots from Latin America to East Asia? Rumsfeld should of been gone long ago, at this point I don't feel that he or George W. Bush are holding up their sacred duty in the constitution to provide for the national defense.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Waking to the Dangers of RFID's in Passports

Passport on Table
Photo credit: murdog
I am glad that others are beginning to see the same problems as I do with RFID's.
The reason RFID is more controversial than, say, a bar code is that the data on the chip is read by a remote reader. The State Department asserts that the tags it will use can be read from only 4 inches away. But privacy advocates say there's no way the State Department can guarantee that . from RFID PASSPORT: "SHOOT ME!"
RFID PASSPORT: "SHOOT ME!" from Defense Tech and Passport to pry from are articles I feel are both worth taking a look at.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The limits of ideology

A very interesting article on the limits of ideology as it relates to Iran and it's influence in the Middle East
Al-Ahram Weekly, 24 – 30 March 05, by Mustafa El-Labbad
The limits of ideology
'The world has witnessed innumerable political assassinations but few have had earthshaking consequences. Of those that have, perhaps the most notorious was the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria in 1914, which triggered WW I and the reshaping of the entire map of Europe. Last month's assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri may prove as momentous. The repercussions of this tragic act have reverberated beyond Syria, precipitating a major upheaval in the regional balance of power.

File-Sharing Is the Latest Battleground

The New York Times has an interesting article on the history of the music and video industry and copy right as it is related to the Supreme Court case of MGM vs. Grokster.

NYT article: File-Sharing Is the Latest Battleground in the Clash of Technology and Copyright

Is anyone watching this Administration?

I cannot believe this country, America is becoming a fascist state more now than ever before! I find out that Paul Rosenzweig has been appointed chairman of the Department of Homeland Security's Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee. Rosenzweig is a "prominent champion of government data-mining" according to C|net. And he was also a member of John Poindexter's DARPA project: Total Information Awareness that got killed in that name only to be born again in other forms, such as the ill fated Airport Passenger Screening program. This is the type of person that is supposed to protect our rights and insure ethical behavior in DHS?!

I love this quote:
As a Slashdot reader comments on the news:
Get with the newspeak, bub. Today's new improved doubleplusgood American conservatives are for smaller government in the form of increased federal spending, more privacy in the form of total surveillance, state's rights in the form of Congressional meddling in individual state court cases, isolationist foreign policy in the form of overseas force projection, government transparency in the form of increased classification of documents, and high moral standards in the form of flagrant House ethics rule violations.
Update 4-8-2005: link to commented 14 points of Fascism

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Annotated New York Times


It looks like the New York Times is running in conjunction with blogrunner a new site called The Annotated New York Times. According to Lifehacker they are tracking comments in the blogosphere and correlating them with Authors and articles from the New York Times.

John Paul II

Photo Credit: pcst
Now that we are getting close to John Paul II interment at the Vatican. I would like to point out the fact that he is being buried on a day that has a partial solar eclipse. It turns out that Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II) was born on an eclipse of the sun in 1920. It is very bizarre that he is ending his existence this way. While I can't comment on its meaning I just wanted to note it.

Also these huge crowds flocking to Rome for this funeral. It is amazing that now they have stopped people from adding to the viewing precession, and that it'll take the next 24 hours for them to finish the line. Even his burial is somewhat in question. I have heard but cannot find a written story that the Poles have asked for the Popes heart to be buried in Kraków, Poland. Apparently there is precedent for catholics to divide up a body for separate enshrining. We'll just have to wait and see if the Vatican will respond to this request.

Update: Link from Comments: Pope's heart could go to Poland

Monday, April 04, 2005

A point of annoyance.

While I admired the Pope for his force of character. I at first did not have a problem with the fact that the President ordered that Flag be lowered to half-mast. But as I went around town I began to think, "Is this right?" Since when do we honor a Foreign Head of State? For while he is a religious leader, the Vatican is a sovereign state, lead by the Pope. Are we now going to lower the flag to half-mast when the Dali Lama dies? Or any other religious/ head of state dies, like the Queen of England?

Being curious, I looked it up on the web and learned that it is within the right, if the President wishes under US Code to do this.
(m) ...By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law....

But it still bugs me.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Carjacking in Malaysia

While I don't know if this is a true story, I do think that it is possible. Something to think about, when your buying that high end car in a third world country .
His finger for his car
By Leslie Andres, The New Straits Times Malaysia

There is a team of carjackers on the prowl in Subang Jaya and what they did to accountant K. Kumaran on Monday shows how ruthless they can be. They chopped off part of his left index finger when they realised that his S-Class Mercedes Benz had a security feature which would immobilise the car without his fingerprint....
More on this Story
BBC story

Mark of the Beast

Future Tense from American Public Media, has a short podcast with a person(Amal Graafstra) who has had a RFID chip implanted in his hand. While he is experimenting with it(they have a short quicktime movie of him using it as a pass-key to a buzzer), I don't think I'm going to run out and have one placed in my hand. Or want to work for a company that would use such technology. Their are just to many privacy issues for me. Not to mention the risks that happen when ever you place something in the body.

Future Tense Story