November 22, 2003

Crusades - what were they all about...

One last entry before I get on the Shuttle to the airport…

From the very wonderful LGF a link to an essay from Thomas F. Madden, associate professor and chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University: The Real History of the Crusades

With the possible exception of Umberto Eco, medieval scholars are not used to getting much media attention. We tend to be a quiet lot (except during the annual bacchanalia we call the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan, of all places), poring over musty chronicles and writing dull yet meticulous studies that few will read. Imagine, then, my surprise when within days of the September 11 attacks, the Middle Ages suddenly became relevant.

As a Crusade historian, I found the tranquil solitude of the ivory tower shattered by journalists, editors, and talk-show hosts on tight deadlines eager to get the real scoop. What were the Crusades?, they asked. When were they? Just how insensitive was President George W. Bush for using the word “crusade” in his remarks?


So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity—and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion—has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.

It is often assumed that the central goal of the Crusades was forced conversion of the Muslim world. Nothing could be further from the truth. From the perspective of medieval Christians, Muslims were the enemies of Christ and His Church. It was the Crusaders’ task to defeat and defend against them. That was all. Muslims who lived in Crusader-won territories were generally allowed to retain their property and livelihood, and always their religion. Indeed, throughout the history of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, Muslim inhabitants far outnumbered the Catholics. It was not until the 13th century that the Franciscans began conversion efforts among Muslims. But these were mostly unsuccessful and finally abandoned. In any case, such efforts were by peaceful persuasion, not the threat of violence.

Read the whole thing - about three pages and very interesting and well written…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 04:17 PM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2003

Light blogging until December

Entries on this blog will be few and far-between from now through December 2nd.

I will be onboard a ship all day tomorrow doing some electronics and then we are heading up to our property this weekend.

This sunday, we will be flying off to the island of Kauai’i with my Mom and Dad for a Thanksgiving holiday.

Have the best of holidays all of you and see you upon our return!


Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

Ethanol fuel - Government Corn industry subsidy

from Reason magazine

The new subsidies to produce ethanol from corn are a classic example of “log-rolling.” They are designed to bribe important Democratic lawmakers into voting for the whole energy bill. And it’s apparently working—Senator Thomas Daschle (D-SD) and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), both of whom hail from corn producing states, say they will vote for it . But perhaps one can make the case that ethanol is a good deal for the economy and the environment? After all ethanol is a “renewable fuel” that displaces oil imported from the unstable Middle East and helps clear the air, right?

On the pro-ethanol side, a 2002 U.S. Department of Agriculture study found, “Production of corn-ethanol is energy efficient, in that it yields 34 percent more energy than it takes to produce it, including growing the corn, harvesting it, transporting it, and distilling it into ethanol.” Of course, one might suspect that USDA may have an interest in finding that agricultural subsidies of any sort are a good thing.

What do other experts have to say? Cornell University biologist and fierce ideological environmentalist (and no friend of this author), David Pimentel offers a different analysis. In an article in the June 2003 issue of Natural Resources Research entitled “Ethanol Fuels: Energy Balance, Economics and Environmental Impacts are Negative,” Pimentel finds that “about 29 percent more energy is used to produce a gallon of ethanol than the energy in a gallon of ethanol.”

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:30 PM | Comments (0)

Has capitalism failed, or have you?

Excellent article in Reason magazine

Last week, Los Angeles Times reporter Mary MacNamara wrote a damply sympathetic, ain’t-it-awful column entitled, “An Urban Pioneer’s New Claim,” about a guy who’d been priced out of Echo Park and forced to rent new digs in Lincoln Heights. For those not familiar with the dizzying altitude L.A. real estate has reached these days, even in locales where polite society often fears to tread, Echo Park is a funky bohemian barrio slightly northwest of downtown, while Lincoln Heights (slightly northeast) is still basically just a barrio—albeit one that realtors and “urban pioneers” hope will soon be funky and bohemian.

and it goes on

Many people missed out on taking advantage of the L.A. real estate recession through no fault of their own. But others, like Jim Priest in the Times’s sad Tale of the Downwardly Mobile Renter, just failed to seize the day. I knew others like him. At around the same time I bought my new house, a friend and his wife went into escrow on a Koreatown duplex, but backed out after encountering “nightmare contractors.” The nightmare in question turned out to be a contractor who showed up a little late to give an estimate for repairs.

Interesting viewpoint…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

Poor 'miss out' on net commerce

from BBC

Developing nations are missing out on the economic benefits of e-commerce warns a report from the United Nations.
It said that poverty, poor health, illiteracy and slow net links deprived many nations of the advantages enjoyed by more advanced economies.

The report said that e-commerce was a powerful force for development that poorer nations should embrace.

It said it can help boost economies, create jobs and even help farmers find better markets for what they produce.

it goes on

The report revealed that at the end of last year, 32% of the world’s 591 million net users lived in the developing world. A year earlier, developing nations accounted for 28% of these users.

But this still means that net users remain rare in poorer nations. In Nigeria, for instance, only 17 out of every 10,000 inhabitants are online.

The picture is even bleaker when statistics for who produces net content are considered.

Unsurprisingly, North America dominates accounting for 75% of all internet hosts. By contrast the figure for Africa is 0.2%.

One can also look at it in the light of all the government corpution and cronyism there between many of the African nations and various European nations. These people get rich while stripmining their countries and people and only provide the most basic of services.

Where is the infrastructure? Who in the Ivory Coast was responsible for putting PCs in schools and wiring DSL out to the villages…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 02:55 PM | Comments (0)

Phil Spector charged with murder

from BBC

Record producer Phil Spector has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a woman at his home.

B-movie actress Lana Clarkson was found at Mr Spector’s mansion in Alahambra, Los Angeles, on 3 February, with a fatal gun shot wound to her face.

Mr Spector, who denies murder, was arrested shortly afterward and freed on $1m bail.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

Protests in London

from BBC

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in London to protest against George W Bush and the war on Iraq.

Organisers claim more than 150,000 have joined the march in central London, although police put the figure closer to 70,000.

To put this in perspective:

also from the BBC

Around 400,000 people from across the country have marched through central London to highlight the needs of rural communities.

Crowds were so big it took people queuing at the start of the official route more than six hours to filter through, according to police.

and what was the primary complaint of these 400,000 people?

The main focus of the protest is opposition to a ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales, but a wide range of other grievances from rural communities are also being linked with the demonstration.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

US breadmakers hold crisis talks over impact of Atkins diet

from the UK Independent

The growing craze for high protein, low carbohydrate slimming regimes such as the Atkins diet is threatening the market for one of the staple foods of the West - bread.

Consumption of bread plummeted in America in the past year with an estimated 40 per cent of Americans eating less than in 2002. The US bread industry is to hold a crisis “bread summit” tomorrow to discuss measures to curb falling sales. In Britain, the Federation of Bakers launched a promotional campaign last month to counter the Atkins effect. British Bread month was advertised with the slogan “Use your loaf, have another slice.”

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

25 Science gift ideas

from Scientific American - their 25 Science gift ideas for 2003

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

Ten things to do if the Internet goes down...

from The Toque

Includes a good use for those omnipresent AOL disks…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

new crop of Viruses and MalWare

CNN has a very good writeup on the new crop of MalWare (Spyware, Viruses, Trojans, Worms, etc…) coming out.

“The good old days of script kiddies and geeks are well gone,” said Pete Simpson, manager of Clearswift’s ThreatLab division. “These are criminal gangs, and the motive is clearly profit.”

Nasty stuff. Again, do not open an attachment unless you verified that the sender sent it to you. Do not visit the site of any eCards, no matter how ‘cute’ they are.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2003

FirstEnergy Blamed for Blackout in Report

from Yahoo/AP

The nation’s worst blackout should have been contained by operators at Ohio’s FirstEnergy Corp., a three-month U.S. and Canadian investigation concluded on Wednesday. The investigators also faulted Midwest regional monitors.

In their report, they said the company’s operators were inadequately trained and computer problems in its Akron, Ohio, control room kept them from recognizing immediately that problems on three lines were causing the Midwest grid to become unstable.

More in the article:

It was the worst blackout in the nation’s history, costing at least $6 billion in economic and other losses.

The task force said there was no indication of tampering and that computer viruses weren’t involved. Investigators early on dismissed the notion of a terrorism link.

But the report found that FirstEnergy, the nation’s fourth largest utility holding company with 4.3 million customers, had violated four industry grid reliability standards. It also said that MISO, the regional grid monitor, had violated several rules in connection with the blackout.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

Wonderful children's toys...

Available for sale in Gaza and Ramallah

Thanks to the Strategy Page


Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

Pres. Bush's Speech at Whitehall

from the Whitehouse official website

The last President to stay at Buckingham Palace was an idealist, without question. At a dinner hosted by King George V, in 1918, Woodrow Wilson made a pledge; with typical American understatement, he vowed that right and justice would become the predominant and controlling force in the world.

President Wilson had come to Europe with his 14 Points for Peace. Many complimented him on his vision; yet some were dubious. Take, for example, the Prime Minister of France. He complained that God, himself, had only 10 commandments. (Laughter.) Sounds familiar. (Laughter.)

At Wilson’s high point of idealism, however, Europe was one short generation from Munich and Auschwitz and the Blitz. Looking back, we see the reasons why. The League of Nations, lacking both credibility and will, collapsed at the first challenge of the dictators. Free nations failed to recognize, much less confront, the aggressive evil in plain sight. And so dictators went about their business, feeding resentments and anti-Semitism, bringing death to innocent people in this city and across the world, and filling the last century with violence and genocide.

Through world war and cold war, we learned that idealism, if it is to do any good in this world, requires common purpose and national strength, moral courage and patience in difficult tasks. And now our generation has need of these qualities.

Good speech…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

Six people arrested in Turkey for Synagogue Blasts

from Yahoo/AP news:

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Authorities arrested six people Wednesday in connection with the suicide bombings of two Istanbul synagogues as opposition leaders accused Turkey’s government of being too lenient toward Muslim radicals.

The suspects include relatives of two suspected accomplices in the bombings, the Anatolia news agency said. A Turkish court charged five with “attempting to overthrow the constitutional structure,” which carries a sentence of life imprisonment. A sixth person was charged with “helping illegal organizations,” punishable by five years in prison, Anatolia said.

No trial date has been set.


About 130 Islamic militants who belonged to the Hezbollah, which is not linked to the Lebanon-based group with the same name, have been released in southeastern Turkey under the amnesty, a judiciary official said Wednesday. Scores of others were expected to be released, too.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

New agressive virus

from Counterpane

On Thursday November 13, 2003 Counterpane was made aware of a new malicious email downloader in the wild.

The email arrives as an e-card from with the following header information:

User’s name : An Admirer
Email Address :

The body of the email instructs users to visit a URL that actually redirects to:

http:// www. idownline. com/ members/ idownline

The spaces are inserted to prevent parsing by email programs while reading this notice.

If users go to the link in the email, the page spawns another connection to a second web page that then loads three other HTML files:

- - S.HTM
- - IN.HTM

The files use an exploit to download and overwrite additional system files (notepad.exe) which result in the downloading of the Trojan.Naldem.

Be careful with this - you don’t need to actually open an attachment, just visit that web site. Treat ALL eCards with suspicion…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

Interview with Bill Joy

in Wired magazine

Some great sound-bytes:

I’ve always said that all successful systems were small systems initially. Great, world-changing things - Java, for instance - always start small. The ideal project is one where people don’t have meetings, they have lunch. The size of the team should be the size of the lunch table.

Open source is fine, but it doesn’t take a worldwide community to create a great operating system. Look at Ken Thompson creating Unix, Stephen Wolfram writing Mathematica in a summer, James Gosling in his office making Java. Now, there’s nothing wrong with letting other people help, but open source doesn’t assist the initial creative act. What we need now are great things. I don’t need to see the source code. I just want a system that works.

We don’t need a lot of economic growth to address the problem of the world’s poor. We put subsistence farmers out of business because that’s our choice. Clean water would do more to alleviate disease than high tech medicine.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 03:19 PM | Comments (0)

Sun sheds its skin and flips

from RedNova

Research with the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft has revealed the process that may implement the reversal in the direction of the Sun’s magnetic field that is known to occur every 11 years.

This newly recognized factor in the Sun’s magnetic flipping is the cumulative effect of more than a thousand huge eruptions called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs).

The CMEs blast billions of tons of electrified gas into space, carrying away the Sun’s old magnetic field and allowing a new one with a flipped orientation to form.

Reversal of the solar magnetic field is a major event in the Sun’s 11-year cycle of stormy activity, when the Sun goes from quiet to active and back again, and the study is the first evidence linking the reversal to CMEs.

The article has some links to nice pictures of solar activity and CMEs

Posted by Dave Halliday at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)

Democrat Memos

from Junkyard Blog

The Coalition for a Fair Judiciary has a PDF of 29 pages of various memos to Democratic Senators outlining:

These memos repeatedly make clear that a small collection of extreme left groups — abortion groups, race organizations, labor unions and leftist groups specifically focused on judges — are driving the Democrats’ agenda and decisions. These groups tell Senate Democrats whom to attack and vote down, when to hold hearings on which nominee, how many hearings to hold and rules ofr allowing floor votes. The memos even indicate that the groups persuaded Democrats to delay nominations in order to affect pending cases.

It will be interesting to see how well this gets covered in the media.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)

Are the Days of 32-Bit Chips Numbered?

from PC World

Advanced Micro Devices will probably stop producing 32-bit processors by the end of 2005, a senior AMD executive predicts.

“I think it will be in the ‘05 timetable. Late ‘05,” said Marty Seyer, the vice president and general manager of AMD’s Microprocessor Business Unit. He was speaking during a panel discussion on AMD’s 64-bit processors at the Comdex show here.

Seyer added the caveat that AMD intends to keep selling 32-bit chips “literally as long as customers want them.” But as the price of AMD’s 64-bit Opteron and Athlon 64 processors drop, customers will have less reason to purchase 32-bit processors, he said.

Though the majority of AMD shipments are 32-bit processors today, its new 64-bit chips are designed to also run 32-bit applications without taking a hit in performance.

Interesting… There are still a lot of 8-bit chips being used in embedded applications (the 8051 is still widely used after more than ten years in production) but for desktops, this is definitley the path.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

U.S. tech job losses slow in 2003

from Infoworld

Although job losses continue to hit the U.S. technology sector, the rate of the employment decline is slowing, the American Electronics Association (AEA) said Wednesday.

bq. Cyberstates 2003, an annual study by the AEA, showed that employment in the U.S. high-tech industry dropped 8 percent last year, to 6 million, from 6.5 million in 2001. In 2003, the loss is likely to be 234,000, or a 4 percent decline, Santa Clara, California-based association said.

Electronics manufacturing saw the biggest fall in 2002, accounting for more than half of all technology jobs lost. The software industry saw a loss of 150,000 jobs, the first loss in the seven years that AEA has been publishing its Cyberstates report, it said.

The only areas with good news to report was in research and development and testing laboratories, where employment increased by 7,000 jobs in 2002, AEA said.

And of course manufacturing is going to be the slowest recovery since that is the job that is going overseas.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

SCO keynote address at the CD Expo conference

from Infoworld

Citing WIPO data, McBride said that the value of the worldwide software market would approach $229 billion by 2007, and that it was being threatened by the ideas behind the Free Software Foundation’s GPL, the software license that governs Linux.

“The world, especially here in America, is shifting to one that is an information society,” McBride said. “In the future, is that $229 billion in software still going to be there? Or in the case of the Free Software Foundation’s goal, is proprietary software going to go away?”

McBride likened the notion of free software to a variety of movements including file sharing, the dot-com bubble, and even free love. He predicted that the proprietary and open-source worlds were on a “collision course,” that would ultimately result in the end of the GPL license.

IBM Corp. was to blame for the threat to the GPL because it had raised the issue of GPL violations in an August lawsuit against SCO, McBride said. That suit was filed in response to a lawsuit filed by SCO against IBM in March that claimed IBM’s contributions to the Linux operating system violated IBM’s Unix license.

Would you like a nice glass of WHINE to go with that???

Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

IBM Teraflop in a box

IBM recently announced a new supercomputer.

IBM today announced that a computer roughly the size of a 30-inch television has been ranked as the 73rd most powerful supercomputer in the world.

Next week the Top500 Supercomputer project will announce its latest ranking of the 500 most powerful supercomputers, as measured by an industry-standard benchmark. With a peak speed of 2 teraflops (2 trillion mathematical operations per second), an initial small-scale prototype of IBM’s Blue Gene/L supercomputer has been rated as a world-leader, even though it occupies a mere half-rack of space, about one cubic meter.

The full Blue Gene/L machine, which is being built for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, will be 128 times larger, occupying 64 full racks. When completed in 2005, IBM expects Blue Gene/L to lead the Top500 supercomputer list. Compared with today’s fastest supercomputers, it will be six times faster, consume 1/15th the power per computation and be 10 times more compact than today’s fastest supercomputers.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

article on Solar Activity

nice article in Kuro5hin on Solar Activity

What’s up with the Sun? Scientists are usually fairly reliable with predicting solar activity. We’re supposed to be in the second waning period of an 11-year solar cycle. Instead of decreasing, though, the activity on the gaseous giant around a million times the size of planet Earth is increasing.

Solar flares are currently measured with three classes using a logarithmic scale; C-class (little no no effect on Earth), M-class (medium strength) and X-class. The latter and strongest class of solar flare ranges in intensity from X1 to X20. One of the biggest solar flares occured in 1859. An X18 class in March of 1989 was the second largest. That is, until the last couple of months.

After building up in October with an X18 magnitude solar flare, on November 4, we witnessed the largest solar flare since we’ve been studying them closely. The coronal ejection temporarily blinded the machines taking the images. Using the amount of time that the satellites were out of commission, scientists are now estimating a magnitude anywhere from X27 to X40+.

Lots of links too - good stuff…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

Kyoto Protocol

from the Montreal Gazette

The Kyoto Protocol’s short and unhappy life has come to an end, though some of its die-hard supporters refuse to admit it. From the outset, it was flawed in principle. It has proven unworkable in practice. No one should mourn its passing.

The Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement designed to stave off the threat of perceived human-induced global warming, was born out of fear in 1997.


For example, assuming all the parties to Kyoto met their greenhouse gas reduction goals, global temperature would be an insignificant one-half of one degree cooler than it would have been without the treaty.

Indeed, if greenhouse-gas emissions from developed countries fell to zero - a goal no one has seriously proposed - atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations would continue to increase because fast-growing countries such as China, India, South Korea and Indonesia are exempt from emissions cuts. According to the International Energy Agency, as much as 85 per cent of the projected increase in the next two decades in carbon-dioxide emissions will come from countries and regions exempt from the proposed treaty.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

Europe backs Stem Cell research

from New Scientist

The European Parliament has backed the public funding of research on stem cells extracted from human embryos. The proposal would also allow medical research on human cells cloned using the same technique by which Dolly the cloned sheep was created.

The issue has caused controversy wherever it has been considered in the world. Supporters of the research say it holds unrivalled promise of new medical treatments for diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes. Opponents say the destruction of human embryos involved is ethically unacceptable.

This is a very good thing…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

Warrent out for Michael Jackson

from the Rolling Stone

Tuesday, the same day that seventy Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies and district Attorney’s office investigators swarmed Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch with search warrants, officials also reportedly issued an arrest warrant for Jackson.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

Intruder in Buckingham Palace

from the Toronto Star

Newspaper reporter infiltrates staff, puts chocolates on presidential pillow.

A British newspaper reporter infiltrated Buckingham Palace ahead of U.S. President George W. Bush’s state visit, using a fake reference to get job on the royal staff, and was assigned to serve members of Bush’s party in an embarrassing breach of security revealed today.

The Daily Mirror reporter said he quit the royal staff the night before he was to bring breakfast to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on their first morning at the palace.


Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)


Sea Slug Forum here

Beautiful critters…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

Book covers

Paul Krugman’s new book - The Great Unraveling has one cover for the USA market and one cover for the UK market.

USA here

UK here

from QandO

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

U.N. and world's poor

from the Washington Times

The United Nations is supposed to be a watchdog of human rights, but it needs watching itself. It has been denying people, especially the poor, the right to feed themselves, buy from others and use their land as they wish. The inhabitants of less developed countries are literally dying as a consequence.

Not through happenstance, but systematically, the United Nations has been sacrificing science, technology and sound public policy to its own bureaucratic self-interest, thereby obstructing technological innovation that could help the poorest of the poor.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

more on Sunspots

from SpaceWeather

Giant sunspots 486 and 488, which caused so much intense space weather last month, have been transiting the farside of the sun since Nov. 4th. Now they’re back. The pair are emerging over the sun’s eastern limb where they can once again direct explosions toward Earth. Meanwhile, sunspot 484 near the middle of the solar disk has developed a complex magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares. Strong solar activity is possible in the days ahead.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

MSN Newsbot (beta)

Microsoft”s effort at news aggregation (think Google news) is online here at the U.K. branch of MSN.

Looks pretty good.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

500 lashes for marying too soon...

from LGF - ArabNews:

A Jizan court has sentenced a young woman to 500 lashes for allegedly spending time alone with a young man and marrying him hours after divorcing her former husband, Al-Madinah reported on Sunday.

According to the court ruling, the groom will also get 500 lashes while the mazoun who married them will get 30 lashes for violating Shariah rules.

The woman was on bad terms with her former husband and entered into a romantic relationship with the young man. But under Shariah, she was required to wait for three months before marrying another man, the paper said.

Religion of Peace My Ass - The previous marriage was “on bad terms” and she wanted to marry the new guy so it’s not like she was playing around…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

Michael Jackson "arrest warrant issued"

from Reuters

…and a broadcast report has said officers are also carrying an arrest warrant for the pop superstar.

“The Jackson’s family attorney has confirmed that the Santa Barbara County Sheriff has issued an arrest warrant for Michael Jackson,” NBC Television reported on Wednesday.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)

HealthSouth Corp. fraud case

from Yahoo news:

Five workers who made false accounting entries during a huge fraud at HealthSouth Corp. kept silent out of fear after realizing the company was buying guns, grenades and spy equipment, according to testimony Wednesday at the first sentencing in the case.

Emery Harris, a former assistant controller at the Birmingham-based health care giant, said he and four subordinates facing prison time and hefty fines were afraid to report what was going on to authorities.

The fear intensified as they saw invoices coming in for weapons, small cameras hidden in plants, car-tracking devices and disguises with wigs, Harris said.


One manager ordered numbers faked after a meeting with executives, including then-CEO Richard Scrushy, Harris said. But Harris testified he got orders to falsify numbers from managers other than Scrushy, who has since been fired.

And now Richard M Scrushy’s story:

In its never-ending effort to convert allegations of accounting fraud into a dime-store novel, the United States prosecutors now claim, incredibly, that HealthSouth ran its own private militia.

At his sentencing hearing yesterday, government cooperator Emery Harris testified that during his employment at HealthSouth, he saw invoices for hand grenades, automatic weapons, and other munitions. Harris claims that despite his purported moral qualms, he continued to participate in a fraud at HealthSouth because he feared violent retaliation by HealthSouth management.


Think about it: Machine guns and hand grenades cannot be purchased at Wal-Mart or over the Internet. In fact, they cannot be purchased legally in the United States at all, without a lengthy and complicated application and registration process through the federal government.

Interesting to see what develops…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2003

More Pinter bloviation...

He introduces N. Chomsky at a conference in 2002:

His website does not have the courtesy of permalinks so you need to go to the main site, scroll down and look tn the right for
New Additions:
Noam Chomsky Introduction (Dec 2002)

The Kurdish Human Rights Project 10th Anniversary Lecture
given by Noam Chomsky at St Paul’s Cathedral on 9th December 2002

Introduction by Harold Pinter

It’s a great honour to introduce Noam Chomsky. In February of this year the publisher, Faith Tas was charged, under Article 8 of Turkey’s anti terrorism law, with publishing ‘propaganda against the indivisible unity of country, nation and the state republic of Turkey’. The book in question was “American Interventionism” by Noam Chomsky. Professor Chomsky flew to Istanbul and petitioned the court to be named as co-defendant and to be tried along side Mr Tas. The prosecutor dropped the charges and Mr Tas was acquitted. This was a remarkable thing for a man to do and only a remarkable man could have done it.

Professor Chomsky has never ceased to call attention to the persecution of the Kurdish people in Turkey, a systematic persecution generally and disgracefully ignored by the western media.

He also reminds us that Turkish repression of the civil rights of the Kurdish people has always been fully supported and subsidised by the United States and that the arms trade between Britain and Turkey flourishes.

Noam Chomsky is the leading critical voice against the criminal regime now running the United States, a regime which is in fact a dangerous monster out of control.

But he will not be bullied. He will not be intimidated. He is a fearless, formidable, totally independent voice. He does something which is really quite simple but highly unusual. He tells the truth.

Harold Pinter

So Chomsky is in favor of the Kurds but when the U.S. actually went in and freed them, this was horrible opression.

To quote from an interview of Chomsky: (this requires you to have a free NY Times resgisration - Scroll down…)

Have you ever been psychoanalyzed?

I do not think psychoanalysis has a scientific basis. If we can’t explain why a cockroach decides to turn left, how can we explain why a human being decides to do something?

How would you explain your large ambition?

I am driven by many things. I know what some of them are. The misery that people suffer and the misery for which I share responsibility. That is agonizing. We live in a free society, and privilege confers responsibility.

If you feel so guilty, how can you justify living a bourgeois life and driving a nice car?

If I gave away my car, I would feel even more guilty. When I go to visit peasants in southern Colombia, they don’t want me to give up my car. They want me to help them. Suppose I gave up material things — my computer, my car and so on — and went to live on a hill in Montana where I grew my own food. Would that help anyone? No.

Have you considered leaving the United States permanently?

No. This is the best country in the world.
(emphasis mine)

Read the entire article in context

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

Human rights violations in Iraq

by the N.Y. Times…

From Instapundit who found it on Healing Iraq (written by an Iraqi native)

In a letter to Arthur Sulzberger:

My family has a property in the green zone in down town Baghdad on Abi-Nuas street. The New York Times rents the adjacent property. For several weeks now my brother Ali Al Ali has been denied automobile access to our property by security guards. Until two days ago we thought this was a coalition security measure. Now we known these guards are not coalition personal but are instead the private security force employed by your news paper.

The family property has two store fronts. Yesterday (Saturday November 15, 2003) my brother and two hired men were in one of the stores installing shelves. My brother lost his livelihood in the war and needs to open this store to make a living. His efforts were interrupted by several of the security guards employed by your paper. He was knocked roughly to the floor and threatened. Your guards pointed there AK-47 rifles and my brother and his work men and told them they would be shot if they did not leave immediately.

I feel sure if learned the United States Army was responsible an incident such as this you would feel obligated to publish the story and condemn the act.

In this his case I respectfully suggest you have an obligation to do somewhat more.


Finally was able to get into his website (Blogger is not the choice to make if you need high-access to your site) and here is the actual text of the letter. Context is the same but the wording is a bit stronger (more acurate)…

Help Ghaydaa

Ghaydaa an Iraqi friend of mine living in the US has a brother in Baghdad who has been denied access to his family stores and property on Abu Nuwas street near the Palestine hotel because of the roadblocks placed to protect the NY times and Reuters offices. He desperately needs the income from renting these stores. He tried sueing the NY times at an Iraqi court in Karradah but with no success. Ghaydaa has been sending email and snail mail to the NY times for weeks and nobody even cared to reply. Here is a copy of the letter she sent to them:

Arthur Sulzberger

Chairman and Publisher

The New York Times

November 15, 2003

Dear Sir:

I am writing you on an issue of immediate concern.

My name is Ghayda Al Ali. While I am from Iraq, I am currently visiting the United States. As you can understand I am very interested in events back home. There is a most disturbing situation there which you should be aware of as your paper is an involved party.

My family has a property in the green zone in down town Baghdad on Abi-Nuas street. The New York Times rents the adjacent property. For several weeks now my brother Ali Al Ali has been denied automobile access to our property by security guards. Until two days ago we thought this was a coalition security measure. Now we known these guards are not coalition personal but are instead the private security force employed by your news paper.

The family property has two store fronts. Yesterday (Saturday November 15, 2003) my brother and two hired men were in one of the stores installing shelves. My brother lost his livelihood in the war and needs to open this store to make a living. His efforts were interrupted by several of the security guards employed by your paper. He was knocked roughly to the floor and threatened. Your guards pointed there AK-47 rifles and my brother and his work men and told them they would be shot if they did not leave immediately.

I feel sure if learned the United States Army was responsible an incident such as this you would feel obligated to publish the story and condemn the act.

In this his case I respectfully suggest you have an obligation to do somewhat more.

My family needs full use of its lawful property. This means no interference of any type to access to the building. Your guards also block access of potential customers to this business location. While mindful of the security requirements of your Baghdad employees I believe they do not completely supercede our legal right to use our property.

I hope this is a simple misunderstanding that you can correct quickly. My family hopes yet to have The New York Times as a good neighbor. I urge you to contact me or my brother quickly as an indication of your good faith. I can be reached at the email address Ask for Ghayda (pronounced Ride-dah). I will provide an email address for my brother upon hearing from you.

I will follow up this email with a letter to your office sent by United States Postal Service.

Please look into this matter quickly.


Ghayda Al Ali

Please help my friend by sending as many copies of this letter to the morons at NY times until they notice and do something about it. If they want to be protected they should choose a safe building elsewhere and not block streets downtown and prevent Iraqis from using their properties by force. I am so indignated to hear about this and so should you be. Please help us do something about it.

I will be doing this tomorrow (Wednesday 19th) - anyone else?

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:22 PM | Comments (0)

The 123 of digital imaging e-book 2.0

from DP Review

Vincent Bockaert has today announced the latest version of his excellent ‘The 123 of digital imaging Interactive e-book’. The new e-book appears to be far more than a simple upgrade, the e-book now covers even more software including Adobe Photoshop CS and Photoshop Album 2.0 (as well as keeping content for Photoshop 7 and Album 1.0). The layout and control of the e-book has also been improved as a result of user feedback. Building on the previous version this e-book is probably the most comprehensive guide you’ll ever need for the most in-depth knowledge of digital imaging and digital photography. Available as a download or packaged CD-ROM.

$40 - they have a trial version, I’ll be looking at that.


The demo is just a bunch of static pictures, nothing interactive. Slide show.
I realize that making a limited interactive demo would be a major effort but still, you do want people to buy this don’t you?

I am passing - looks like good info but nothing that I have not already dug up from other sources…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 04:23 PM | Comments (0)

Frederick Forsyth's letter to G.W.B.

from Instapundit printed in the Guardian Letters to the Editor.

Dear Mr President,

Today you arrive in my country for the first state visit by an American president for many decades, and I bid you welcome.

You will find yourself assailed on every hand by some pretty pretentious characters collectively known as the British left. They traditionally believe they have a monopoly on morality and that your recent actions preclude you from the club. You opposed and destroyed the world’s most blood-encrusted dictator. This is quite unforgivable.

I beg you to take no notice. The British left intermittently erupts like a pustule upon the buttock of a rather good country. Seventy years ago it opposed mobilisation against Adolf Hitler and worshipped the other genocide, Josef Stalin.

It has marched for Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Andropov. It has slobbered over Ceausescu and Mugabe. It has demonstrated against everything and everyone American for a century. Broadly speaking, it hates your country first, mine second.

Eleven years ago something dreadful happened. Maggie was ousted, Ronald retired, the Berlin wall fell and Gorby abolished communism. All the left’s idols fell and its demons retired. For a decade there was nothing really to hate. But thank the Lord for his limitless mercy. Now they can applaud Saddam, Bin Laden, Kim Jong-Il… and hate a God-fearing Texan. So hallelujah and have a good time.

Frederick Forsyth

Couple of other good ones… The Loony Left is out in force.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

Yet another DVD 'standard'

from AP/Excite news

Seeking to compete on its own terms in the lucrative entertainment industry, China announced a government-funded project Tuesday to promote an alternative to DVDs and “attack the market share” of the global video format.

The rollout of the long-planned project, known as EVD, or enhanced versatile disc, was timed to coincide with the beginning of what China calls the “golden sales” period - known elsewhere as the Christmas shopping season.

EVD would give Chinese manufacturers and technology consortiums a homegrown platform to sell and build on. It also is aimed at relieving Chinese DVD producers from paying licensing fees to the companies that hold patents to the DVD format.

Yeah - just what we need, another standard… There is one coming out called Blu-Ray that looks really good - it uses the shorter wavelength of a blue laser to pack more data onto a disk very similar to DVD - this gives 27GB storage on a disk (about 13 hours of standard TV and 2+ hours of HDTV)

Blu-Ray is currently supported by Hitachi, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and Thomson and Sony has already announced a Pro-sumer grade recorder for under $4K (DVD recorders first hit the Pro-sumer market at $10K)

Hello China??? Anybody listening over there???

Posted by Dave Halliday at 04:04 PM | Comments (0)

Salmon runs in Northwest

Conference in Portland Oregon

Northwest salmon are returning in record numbers. On September 11th, 45,884 chinook set a one-day return record at Bonneville Dam. In the four days 11-14, half as many salmonids (230,000) came over that dam as crossed it in the entire 1995 season (460,000). What do records mean for future runs and conservation programs?

The public has been told and has come to expect that Northwest salmon are a “declining resource.” But runs are not acting out a destiny of decline. Has salmon recovery come to pass? No one knows. But common sense suggests that record runs mean it’s time to take stock of recovery programs and discuss new directions and possibilities. That’s the purpose of this public service conference and forum.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 02:03 PM | Comments (0)

Eliminate from your systems and archives DV115

From The Best of the Web


Editors, Photo Editors, Librarians, eliminate from your systems and archives DV115 transmitted Nov. 17, 2003, due to obscene gesture. (AP Photos/New York)

And here is the picture in question:

Given the treatment of the soldiers by the press over there, this is not a surprise.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)

More E.U. budget woes

from the Telegraph

The European Union is failing to keep track of huge annual subsidies, and 91 per cent of its budget is riddled with errors or cannot be verified, a financial watchdog said yesterday.

The European Court of Auditors refused to certify EU accounts for the ninth successive year, saying Brussels has failed to match reform rhetoric with a genuine change of culture. Abuse is said to be endemic in the Common Agricultural Policy, which still consumes almost half the £65 billion budget.

Checks on subsidy claims for suckler cows found that 50.2 per cent of animals in Portugal and 31.2 per cent in Italy were false. The “error rate” in forage and crop acreage was 89.7 per cent in Luxembourg, 42.9 per cent in Sweden, 34.5 per cent in France and 19.2 per cent in Britain, despite increased use of satellite photography to spot fraud.


The court suggested that EU staff were abusing the disability system on a large scale, costing taxpayers £54 million a year. Half the claimants had psychological or stress-related complaints. A court official said: “These are not coal miners or deep-sea fishermen. It’s not normal for so many to retire for ill-health.”

Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)

Double-barreled Cannon

from Wired

The world’s only double-barreled cannon is now proudly displayed on the lawn of the Athens City Hall, about a hundred miles off Route 1. It is a monument to every geek who ever had what seemed to be a really good idea at the time.

Built for $350, the cannon was cast in Athens in one piece, with a 3-degree divergence between its almost-parallel double barrels. The idea was to connect two cannonballs with a chain and fire them simultaneously in order to, according to a plaque that now stands near the cannon, “mow the enemy down like scythe cuts wheat.”


According to the official report, printed on the cannon’s plaque: “It was tested in a field on the Newton’s Bridge Road against a target of upright poles. With both balls rammed home and the chain dangling from the twin muzzles, the piece was fired; but the lack of precise simultaneity caused uneven explosion of the propelling charges, which snapped the chain and gave each ball an erratic and unpredictable trajectory.”

Unofficial contemporaneous reports describe a far more chaotic scene, with both balls circling madly around each other after they were fired from the cannon.

Screaming spectators ducked and covered as the twinned, spinning projectiles plowed through a nearby wood and destroyed a cornfield before the chain connecting the balls broke. One of the cannonballs then collided into and killed a cow; the other demolished the chimney of a nearby home.


Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

Painter JMW Turner - cateracts and color blindness?

from the Guardian

Viewers have been puzzling over JMW Turner’s singular vision of the world for over 200 years.

Now an opthalmic surgeon is suggesting that there is no mystery; Turner, suffering from early, slight colour-blindness and later cataracts, was painting exactly what he saw.

The debate over Turner’s eyesight has been revived by the argument over a battered pair of Victorian spectacles, to be auctioned at Sotheby’s next week. They are claimed as Turner’s, but are a completely different prescription from those on view at Tate Britain.

Consultant opthalmic surgeon James McGill has been studying Turner’s work for years, and sees a potential patient for surgery which could have changed the course of art history. He believes both pairs were Turner’s, evidence of his deteriorating eyesight.

Regardless, I really like Turner’s work. You can see an online gallery here

Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

Powell says Europe Iran resolution inadequate

from the U.K. Reuters

“The resolution that I was aware (of) being presented by the EU three was not adequate,” Powell said. “It did not have the trigger mechanisms in the case of further Iranian intransigence or difficulty.”

Geez - he is showing some backbone finally. Maybe things are gettting better at State.

Reuters has more

Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

Flu outbreak

from the CDC

Looks like this season will be early and bad - if you don’t have the flu shot now, be sure to get it soon. Most pharmacies have them for under $20.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

Democratic hopefuls blast Republican Medicare plan

from Forbes

Howard Dean waved his stethoscope, Joseph Lieberman brought his 89-year-old mother and John Edwards touted his new book to underscore their opposition to a Medicare bill during a Democratic presidential forum on Tuesday.

Six of the nine Democrats vying for the right to challenge President George W. Bush in 2004 lambasted the $400 billion, 10-year Republican-crafted measure that adds a prescription drug benefit to the health insurance program for the elderly, but squabbled among themselves over how best to fix it.

and ABC News

Turning on their host, several of the Democratic presidential candidates scolded the powerful AARP for endorsing a Republican-backed Medicare prescription drug bill that they argued would do long-term damage to the federal program for seniors.

Six of the nine candidates participated in the morning forum sponsored by the 35 million-member organization that represents Americans age 50 or older. The AARP’s sponsorship didn’t stop the Democrats from assailing the bill or the group, which in a boost to the GOP and President Bush on Monday announced its support for the legislation.

It goes on:

The measure would create a new prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries beginning in 2006. It also would establish a new role for insurance companies, encouraging them to offer a new private health coverage plan for elderly Americans.

The bill creates a political challenge for the Democratic candidates, who would like to provide prescription drug coverage to seniors, a critical voting bloc, but are loath to hand President Bush a legislative victory less than a year before the election.

Gee - maybe if the Democrats had some real candidates instead of the seven dwarves that have now, they wouldn’t be feeling that sense of eminent panic…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

New Supercomputer at NASA

from RedNova

This will be interesting to follow since it’s a 512-proc single system with NUMA (Non Uniform Memory Access) shared memory.

I worked with a group involved in scale-up of systems (cram more and more processors into a box) and it turned out that for most instances, you got much better performance clustering boxes together and splitting the computing into parcels than by trying to run a single instance of the program on one big box. You reached a point where the computer was spending more time trying to figure out what went where than working on the problem.

Cost is an issue too - Unisys makes a gorgeous 32-proc system which sells for about $2 mill. for a bare-bones system. You could buy four very nice 8-proc boxes for about $400 K. Plus, if you had a total system failure with one of the boxes, you were still running at 75% capacity until it was repaired…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)

Nigerian vaccine tests refute contamination claim

from the New Scientist

Laboratory tests by Nigerian scientists have dismissed accusations that the polio vaccine given in a mass immunisation campaign in the country is contaminated with anti-fertility hormones and HIV.

Here is the money quote:

Some Islamic clerics suggested the vaccine is part of a Western plot to depopulate Africa.

Fucking fools each and every one of them… We are doing more than they ever will to save the people of Africa and they sit back in their tents and kvetch…

Here is what we are working against:

Of the 520 cases of polio seen worldwide so far in 2003, nearly half were in Nigeria says Melissa Corkum, information officer for polio at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)

Life Imitates Art

from The Onion

Mom finds out about Blog

“I know enough not to tell Mom that I’m seeing a girl until it’s serious,” Widmar said. “Now, she’s going to know exactly who I hang out with, where I go, and what I spend my time doing on a daily basis. I am so in hell right now.”

“God, my links alone contain unlimited fodder for Mom’s neuroses,” Widmar said. “She’ll have access to not only my life, but the lives of all my friends who have web sites. She’ll have the names of all the places in Minneapolis where we hang out, which she can—and will—look up. With the raw materials in my blog, she could actually construct an accurate picture of who I am. This is fucking serious.”


Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

Formula 1 Racing - Linux

from News Forge

Formula 1 racer’s secret: 1,000 horsepower and a Linux cluster

Aerodynamics are as important to modern Formula 1 race cars as they are to jet fighters. That’s why the BMW Williams F1 team turn to a Linux cluster when they need to get a bit more out of their 3-litre, 1,000-horsepower, 1,320-lb. FW25 car.

They are using Computational Fluid Dynamics to refine the airodynamics of the body. Cool stuff…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

Latest Western Washington weather information

Updated flooding information here

Mountain pass reports here

These reports are updated several times / day as needed.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

Dangers of DiHydrogen Monoxide

ran into a web page outlining some of the uses and dangers of this common chemical here

Some uses:

as an industrial solvent and coolant,
in nuclear power plants,
by the U.S. Navy in the propulsion systems of some older vessels,
by elite athletes to improve performance,
in the production of Styrofoam,
in biological and chemical weapons manufacture,
as a spray-on fire suppressant and retardant,
in abortion clinics,
as a major ingredient in many home-brewed bombs,
as a byproduct of hydrocarbon combustion in furnaces and air conditioning compressor operation,
in cult rituals,
by the Church of Scientology on their members and their members’ families,
by both the KKK and the NAACP during rallies and marches,
by pedophiles and pornographers (for uses we’d rather not say here),
by the clientele at a number of homosexual bath houses in New York City and San Francisco,
historically, in Hitler’s death camps in Nazi Germany, and in prisons in Turkey, Serbia, Croatia, Libya, Iraq and Iran,
in World War II prison camps in Japan, and in prisons in China, for various forms of torture,
by the Serbian military as authorized by Slobodan Milosevic in their recent ethnic cleansing campaign,
in animal research laboratories, and
in pesticide production and distribution.

Some other uses:

as an additive to food products, including jarred baby food and baby formula, and even in many soups, carbonated beverages and supposedly “all-natural” fruit juices
in cough medicines and other liquid pharmaceuticals,
in spray-on oven cleaners,
in shampoos, shaving creams, deodorants and numerous other bathroom products,
in bathtub bubble products marketed to children,
as a preservative in grocery store fresh produce sections,
in the production of beer by all the major beer distributors,
in the coffee available at major coffee houses in the US and abroad,
in Formula One race cars, although its use is regulated by the Formula One Racing Commission, and
as a target of ongoing NASA planetary and stellar research.

Some of the known dangers:

Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.
Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects.
DHMO is a major component of acid rain.
Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
Contributes to soil erosion.
Leads to corrosion and oxidation of many metals.
Contamination of electrical systems often causes short-circuits.
Exposure decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
Found in biopsies of pre-cancerous tumors and lesions.
Often associated with killer cyclones in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere.
Thermal variations in DHMO are a suspected contributor to the El Nino weather effect

Read this website to learn more…

In today’s Dallas Fort-Worth Star-Telegram

DALLAS - A 21-year-old student at Southern Methodist University remained hospitalized in critical condition Monday after chugging water in an off-campus competition with fraternity members.

Braylon Curry, a pledge with Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, drank an unknown amount of water from a gallon container early Saturday morning and was hospitalized hours later after becoming dazed and incoherent, Dallas police said.

Gotta get Greenpeace involved - this is toxic stuff!

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

Police raid Neverland

from Reuters

Police Search Michael Jackson’s California Ranch

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Police swarmed over pop superstar Michael Jackson’s opulent Neverland Ranch, near Santa Barbara in central California, on Tuesday as part of an unspecified criminal investigation, police said.

A Santa Barbara Sheriff’s spokesman said sheriff’s deputies and officials from the District Attorney’s office went to the sprawling ranch at 8.30 a.m. PST to “serve a search warrant as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.”

The search was still going on two hours later.

Police did not specify the nature of the investigation, but cable channel Court TV said it stemmed from allegations of sexual abuse brought by a 12-year-old boy against the self-styled King of Pop.

A spokesman for Jackson was not immediately available for comment and Jackson’s whereabouts were not immediately clear.

Things are not going well for this guy…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

Ghost ships: the scare that never was

from The Independent

Update to the item from several days ago regarding the US Navy ships that were sailed over to England to be decomissioned and taken apart for scrap.

Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace may have exaggerated dangers of pollution from US vessels

Peter Mandelson, the local MP, accused the groups of “colossal misinformation” after personally inspecting the two ships that docked in the north-eastern port last week. And senior government sources pointed out that the ships - continually described as “toxic timebombs” by environmentalists - are in fact “no more toxic than the average car ferry”.
(emphasis mine)

The “toxic cocktail” that the environmentalists were worried about were three items.
Asbestos which is toxic if airborne and inhaled but perfectly safe sitting where it is - there are excellent proceedures in place for removal.
PCB’s - these do cause cancer but they are present only in solid form on the ship - you would have to gnaw on an electrical cable to be affected. (PCB’s have excellent electrical properties which made them ideal for insulation, cooling oils, etc… until the health hazards became apparent) and finally,
Oil - there are a few tons of oil on each ship that could leak out and pollute the surrounding harbor.

Gimme a break!

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

Kim DuToit is on a roll today

His website is worth checking out at least a couple times week. (So is his wife’s) but today he is on a roll…

Check it out.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

Iraq is not VietNam

excellent essay from Michael J. Totten on Tech Central Station

Iraq Is Analogous to… Iraq

First of all, Iraq is a lot less violent. More than 58,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam. Since the March 19th invasion of Iraq, we’ve lost fewer than 400. At the rate this is going it will take more than one hundred years before the two wars are comparable.

It’s not just a question of scale. Vietnam and Iraq are categorically different animals.

Consider terrain. Not all of Vietnam is covered in triple-canopy jungle. But much of it is, and there is no better place for insurgents to hide.

Most of Iraq is arid and flat. We can track people and movement from outer space. Our satellites can read license plates. We can see in the dark and strike bunkers from hundreds of miles away.

Guerillas and terrorists can hide in cities, but they are widely despised almost everywhere. They are not fish swimming among the people, to use Mao’s formulation, as Communist revolutionaries sometimes could. They are more like a snake that eats its own tail.

Micheal also has an excellent blog here

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

Shredded Stasi documents could be pieced together in five years

from The Register

The last secrets of the East German State Security Service (Stasi), torn into shreds and stored in 16,000 brown sacks, may soon be pieced together by a software program developed by the Fraunhofer Institute.

On Monday, the Institute said it would take five years to solve the world’s biggest jigsaw puzzle electronically. If done by hand, the operation would take several hundred years.

After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Stasi agents at the Magdeburg archives were ordered by their chief Erich Mielke to destroy tens of thousands of files about (former) Stasi informants and their victims. But the agents were unable to find the transport needed to take away the shredded documents and create a huge bonfire.

Fraunhofer is no slouch in the software business - they were one of the major players in the development of the MP3 standard.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

SCO admits loosing customer base over Linux Jihad

from The Register

But in a filing yesterday the SCO Group gave a strong hint that while it anticipates riches from IP licenses, its current business is falling apart. Deeply embedded in the risks portion of the filing is this statement:

“We are informed that participants in the Linux industry have attempted to influence participants in the markets in which we sell our products to reduce or eliminate the amount of our products and services that they purchase. They have been somewhat successful in those efforts and similar efforts and success will likely continue. There is also a risk that the assertion of our intellectual property rights will be negatively viewed by participants in our marketplace and we may lose support from such participants. Any of the foregoing could adversely affect our position in the marketplace and our results of operations. ”

Which boils down to two admissions. SCO has already lost business from its loyal customer base. And it expects to lose more.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer company…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

two mroe articles on the new "Mystery Particle"

from the BBC

and from the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK)

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

Epson Develops World's Smallest Flying Microrobot

cool press release from Epson

Two counter-rotating rotor blades lifting a 8.9 Gram robot

No plans to release a commercial product but still, major props for their R&D team…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

486 and 488 are back!!!

Sunspots 486 and 488 have transited the far side of the sun and are now starting their way across again.

These are the two that were responsible for so much auroral activity a month ago.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

Review of Nikon D2H

Rob Galbraith has a review of the new Nikon D2H digital SLR

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2003

Health violations in Fast Food restaurants

MS/NBC hired some people to go around to a number of Fast Food restaurants and check for food violations. Here is what they found

Hint - don’t eat at Burger King…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

The Draft-Hillary Camps Push Their Buttons, and Each Other's

The two groups that are campaigning to draft Hillary Clinton to run for president are at odds with each other. They will not speak with each other according to an article in the Washington Post

How divided is the race for the Democratic presidential nomination? Even the Draft Hillary movements can’t stand each other.

“We’re avoiding him,” says Adam Parkhomenko, the 18-year-old leader of in Arlington, talking about Bob Kunst, leader of Miami Beach-based

“I’m avoiding him,” says Kunst of Parkhomenko. “The kid is on a total ego trip.”

Not true, says Parkhomenko. “We wouldn’t be in this situation if the guy had just returned my e-mails. And when he finally did, all he wanted was for me to help him to sell bumper stickers.”

“I’m way too busy for this nonsense,” Kunst declares.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

Hezbollah terrorist group endorses Democratic Party

from Ha’aretz Daily

“The resistance movement (against the U.S. in Iraq) may not be able to remove the U.S. from Iraq within a year, but it will be able to remove Bush, (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld and (National Security Adviser) Condoleezza Rice, together with their Zionist friends, from the White House,” Nasrallah assured his listeners. Nasrallah’s scenario requires no deep understanding: Suicide attacks and sabotage operations against the American forces in Iraq will cause American public opinion to turn against the president and not re-elect him, thus bringing about the disappearance of this group of leaders from the White House.

Basically calling for the ousting of Bush, Rice and Rummy.
Fat chance…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

Top Ten Internet Fads

from Kuro5hin

10. Live Customer Service
9. Flash Mobs
8. VoIP (Rounds 1 and 2)


Posted by Dave Halliday at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

Seven flights of Fancy that Fizzled

from MS/NBC

Flying cars, jetpacks, etc…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 03:47 PM | Comments (0)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Inaugural Address

from the Washington Post

The next year or so will be interesting…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)

Why the antiwar left must confront terrorism

from Salon premium
(you have the option to view a display ad and get a free day-pass)

Nov. 15, 2003 | More than two years into the Bush administration’s lurching war on terror, William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, is aiming some of his sharpest criticism not at the White House, but at the American political left. His message: Take on the terror threat, or risk irrelevance.

War protesters of various stripes, alongside anti-globalization and human rights activists, have staged several large rallies nationwide this year, channeling their anger at the Bush administration through slogans like “No blood for oil,” “End the imperialist occupation” and “Regime change begins at home.”

But in an interview with Salon, Schulz said that the political left has thus far botched a key mission. “There’s been a failure to give the necessary attention, analysis and strategizing to the effort to counter terrorism and protect our fundamental right to security,” he said. “It’s a serious problem.”

bq. In his new book, “Tainted Legacy: 9/11 and the Ruin of Human Rights,” Schulz argues that rising global terrorism requires the left “to rethink some of our most sacred assumptions.” A vigorous defense of human and civil liberties, while essential to spreading democracy worldwide, is not enough to stop terrorists from blowing up airplanes or shopping malls, he says. And that presents the left with a problem, because some of the tools needed to fight terror, such as stricter border controls or beefed up intelligence work — and, perhaps, war against states that support terrorists — chafe against traditional leftist values.

But protecting America’s borders as well as its treasured freedoms is a daunting task. There is ample reason to decry (as Amnesty has) the deeply invasive potential of the PATRIOT Act, the secretive rounding up and prolonged detention of more than 1,200 Arabs and Muslims nationwide, and the alleged coercion — some would call it torture — of terror suspects by the U.S. government. Of equal concern is Washington’s current distaste for multilateral diplomacy, which puts crucial alliances at risk at a time of mounting global turmoil. But it’s not enough, Schulz says, to launch defiant rhetoric at a barreling, unilateralist Bush administration, even when its policies threaten to bulldoze the very cornerstones of democracy.

bq. He raises some hard questions: If there’s reason to believe the New York City subway is a prime terrorist target, should we really object to surveillance cameras in the name of privacy rights, especially if use of the evidence they obtain is limited? If democratic elections would bring a radical Islamist government to power in Pakistan that might distribute nuclear weapons to terrorists, should we still call for democracy there over military rule?

The article is worth taking the time to read completely (3 pages)

Posted by Dave Halliday at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

Here we go again...

Flood warnings for Western Washington

Posted by Dave Halliday at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)

Victor Davis Hanson

Another of his excellent spot-on essays in the National Review

Critics now fault an American military that ripped apart Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait to Kurdistan in three weeks for its apparent inability to restore civilization in the sixth months after the demise of Saddam Hussein’s 30-year nightmare. It seems to mean little that fewer combatants have been killed in two years of fighting than were lost in an average week in Vietnam, that deposed enemies like the Taliban and Saddam Hussein were right out of the Dark Ages, that our efforts were incomprehensible without September 11, that we are promoting democracies, not installing tyrannical yes men, and that reconstructing Iraq 7,000 miles away seems to be going more quickly than the rebuilding on the crater in Manhattan.

Why? Because we are in a war that is not quite a war, but has an array of baffling rules all its own that we are only slowly grasping.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

The Pricing Problem

from Andy Budd’s site:

Working out a price for a website can be an extremely stressful exercise. If my experiences are anything to go by, most people will email you (and 100 other web designers) asking for a quote with very little or no information to go on.

Usually they simply ask…

“How much do you charge for a 20 page website.”

Which is about as helpful as somebody walking into a car dealership and asking, “how much do you charge for a car with 4 doors”. If you are lucky they may also throw in a few titbits like…

“We’d like something like”

Where is either the worlds worst website, or something so huge and expensive you just know they don’t have the funds.


“It has to have a flash intro/news ticker/frame based navigation”

However you’re a professional so you struggle on. You’ll try to open a dialogue to extract a few more nuggets of info until you have enough to go on.

Then you work up some prices and put together a proposal which can take anything from a few hours to a couple of days. You spend the time because you’re a professional and because you want to let your potential client know as much about the web design process and what you do as possible.

So true…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

Donald Griffin - discovered Bat Echolocation

Donald Griffin passed away this month.

The Boston Globe has an obituary.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

Mystery noise is fish farts

from Fishing Magic

Biologists have linked a mysterious, underwater farting sound to bubbles coming out of a herring’s anus. No fish had been known to emit sound from its anus nor to be capable of producing such a high-pitched noise.

“It sounds just like a high-pitched raspberry,” says Ben Wilson of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Wilson and his colleagues cannot be sure why herring make this sound, but initial research suggests that it might explain the puzzle of how shoals keep together after dark.


Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

The Saddam Hussein / Osama bin Laden Memo

from Little Green Footballs

Since the memo is quite long, I put it in the extended enrty section.

Click on the link below to view it - it’s worth reading through…

Case Closed
From the November 24, 2003 issue: The U.S. government’s secret memo detailing cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
by Stephen F. Hayes
11/24/2003, Volume 009, Issue 11

OSAMA BIN LADEN and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda—perhaps even for Mohamed Atta—according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was written in response to a request from the committee as part of its investigation into prewar intelligence claims made by the administration. Intelligence reporting included in the 16-page memo comes from a variety of domestic and foreign agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. Much of the evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources. Some of it is new information obtained in custodial interviews with high-level al Qaeda terrorists and Iraqi officials, and some of it is more than a decade old. The picture that emerges is one of a history of collaboration between two of America’s most determined and dangerous enemies.

According to the memo—which lays out the intelligence in 50 numbered points—Iraq-al Qaeda contacts began in 1990 and continued through mid-March 2003, days before the Iraq War began. Most of the numbered passages contain straight, fact-based intelligence reporting, which in some cases includes an evaluation of the credibility of the source. This reporting is often followed by commentary and analysis.

The relationship began shortly before the first Gulf War. According to reporting in the memo, bin Laden sent “emissaries to Jordan in 1990 to meet with Iraqi government officials.” At some unspecified point in 1991, according to a CIA analysis, “Iraq sought Sudan’s assistance to establish links to al Qaeda.” The outreach went in both directions. According to 1993 CIA reporting cited in the memo, “bin Laden wanted to expand his organization’s capabilities through ties with Iraq.”

The primary go-between throughout these early stages was Sudanese strongman Hassan al-Turabi, a leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated National Islamic Front. Numerous sources have confirmed this. One defector reported that “al-Turabi was instrumental in arranging the Iraqi-al Qaeda relationship. The defector said Iraq sought al Qaeda influence through its connections with Afghanistan, to facilitate the transshipment of proscribed weapons and equipment to Iraq. In return, Iraq provided al Qaeda with training and instructors.”

One such confirmation came in a postwar interview with one of Saddam Hussein’s henchmen. As the memo details:

4. According to a May 2003 debriefing of a senior Iraqi intelligence officer, Iraqi intelligence established a highly secretive relationship with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and later with al Qaeda. The first meeting in 1992 between the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) and al Qaeda was brokered by al-Turabi. Former IIS deputy director Faruq Hijazi and senior al Qaeda leader [Ayman al] Zawahiri were at the meeting—the first of several between 1992 and 1995 in Sudan. Additional meetings between Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda were held in Pakistan. Members of al Qaeda would sometimes visit Baghdad where they would meet the Iraqi intelligence chief in a safe house. The report claimed that Saddam insisted the relationship with al Qaeda be kept secret. After 9-11, the source said Saddam made a personnel change in the IIS for fear the relationship would come under scrutiny from foreign probes.

A decisive moment in the budding relationship came in 1993, when bin Laden faced internal resistance to his cooperation with Saddam.

5. A CIA report from a contact with good access, some of whose reporting has been corroborated, said that certain elements in the “Islamic Army” of bin Laden were against the secular regime of Saddam. Overriding the internal factional strife that was developing, bin Laden came to an “understanding” with Saddam that the Islamic Army would no longer support anti-Saddam activities. According to sensitive reporting released in U.S. court documents during the African Embassy trial, in 1993 bin Laden reached an “understanding” with Saddam under which he (bin Laden) forbade al Qaeda operations to be mounted against the Iraqi leader.

Another facilitator of the relationship during the mid-1990s was Mahmdouh Mahmud Salim (a.k.a. Abu Hajer al-Iraqi). Abu Hajer, now in a New York prison, was described in court proceedings related to the August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as bin Laden’s “best friend.” According to CIA reporting dating back to the Clinton administration, bin Laden trusted him to serve as a liaison with Saddam’s regime and tasked him with procurement of weapons of mass destruction for al Qaeda. FBI reporting in the memo reveals that Abu Hajer “visited Iraq in early 1995” and “had a good relationship with Iraqi intelligence. Sometime before mid-1995 he went on an al Qaeda mission to discuss unspecified cooperation with the Iraqi government.”

Some of the reporting about the relationship throughout the mid-1990s comes from a source who had intimate knowledge of bin Laden and his dealings. This source, according to CIA analysis, offered “the most credible information” on cooperation between bin Laden and Iraq.

This source’s reports read almost like a diary. Specific dates of when bin Laden flew to various cities are included, as well as names of individuals he met. The source did not offer information on the substantive talks during the meetings. . . . There are not a great many reports in general on the relationship between bin Laden and Iraq because of the secrecy surrounding it. But when this source with close access provided a “window” into bin Laden’s activities, bin Laden is seen as heavily involved with Iraq (and Iran).

Reporting from the early 1990s remains somewhat sketchy, though multiple sources place Hassan al-Turabi and Ayman al Zawahiri, bin Laden’s current No. 2, at the center of the relationship. The reporting gets much more specific in the mid-1990s:

8. Reporting from a well placed source disclosed that bin Laden was receiving training on bomb making from the IIS’s [Iraqi Intelligence Service] principal technical expert on making sophisticated explosives, Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed. Brigadier Salim was observed at bin Laden’s farm in Khartoum in Sept.-Oct. 1995 and again in July 1996, in the company of the Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti.

9 . . . Bin Laden visited Doha, Qatar (17-19 Jan. 1996), staying at the residence of a member of the Qatari ruling family. He discussed the successful movement of explosives into Saudi Arabia, and operations targeted against U.S. and U.K. interests in Dammam, Dharan, and Khobar, using clandestine al Qaeda cells in Saudi Arabia. Upon his return, bin Laden met with Hijazi and Turabi, among others.

And later more reporting, from the same “well placed” source:

10. The Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti, met privately with bin Laden at his farm in Sudan in July 1996. Tikriti used an Iraqi delegation traveling to Khartoum to discuss bilateral cooperation as his “cover” for his own entry into Sudan to meet with bin Laden and Hassan al-Turabi. The Iraqi intelligence chief and two other IIS officers met at bin Laden’s farm and discussed bin Laden’s request for IIS technical assistance in: a) making letter and parcel bombs; b) making bombs which could be placed on aircraft and detonated by changes in barometric pressure; and c) making false passport [sic]. Bin Laden specifically requested that [Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed], Iraqi intelligence’s premier explosives maker—especially skilled in making car bombs—remain with him in Sudan. The Iraqi intelligence chief instructed Salim to remain in Sudan with bin Laden as long as required.

The analysis of those events follows:

The time of the visit from the IIS director was a few weeks after the Khobar Towers bombing. The bombing came on the third anniversary of a U.S. [Tomahawk missile] strike on IIS HQ (retaliation for the attempted assassination of former President Bush in Kuwait) for which Iraqi officials explicitly threatened retaliation.

IN ADDITION TO THE CONTACTS CLUSTERED in the mid-1990s, intelligence reports detail a flurry of activities in early 1998 and again in December 1998. A “former senior Iraqi intelligence officer” reported that “the Iraqi intelligence service station in Pakistan was Baghdad’s point of contact with al Qaeda. He also said bin Laden visited Baghdad in Jan. 1998 and met with Tariq Aziz.”

11. According to sensitive reporting, Saddam personally sent Faruq Hijazi, IIS deputy director and later Iraqi ambassador to Turkey, to meet with bin Laden at least twice, first in Sudan and later in Afghanistan in 1999. . . .

14. According to a sensitive reporting [from] a “regular and reliable source,” [Ayman al] Zawahiri, a senior al Qaeda operative, visited Baghdad and met with the Iraqi Vice President on 3 February 1998. The goal of the visit was to arrange for coordination between Iraq and bin Laden and establish camps in an-Nasiriyah and Iraqi Kurdistan under the leadership of Abdul Aziz.

That visit came as the Iraqis intensified their defiance of the U.N. inspection regime, known as UNSCOM, created by the cease-fire agreement following the Gulf War. UNSCOM demanded access to Saddam’s presidential palaces that he refused to provide. As the tensions mounted, President Bill Clinton went to the Pentagon on February 18, 1998, and prepared the nation for war. He warned of “an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers, and organized international criminals” and said “there is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein.”

The day after this speech, according to documents unearthed in April 2003 in the Iraqi Intelligence headquarters by journalists Mitch Potter and Inigo Gilmore, Hussein’s intelligence service wrote a memo detailing coming meetings with a bin Laden representative traveling to Baghdad. Each reference to bin Laden had been covered by liquid paper that, when revealed, exposed a plan to increase cooperation between Iraq and al Qaeda. According to that memo, the IIS agreed to pay for “all the travel and hotel costs inside Iraq to gain the knowledge of the message from bin Laden and to convey to his envoy an oral message from us to bin Laden.” The document set as the goal for the meeting a discussion of “the future of our relationship with him, bin Laden, and to achieve a direct meeting with him.” The al Qaeda representative, the document went on to suggest, might provide “a way to maintain contacts with bin Laden.”

Four days later, on February 23, 1998, bin Laden issued his now-famous fatwa on the plight of Iraq, published in the Arabic-language daily, al Quds al-Arabi: “For over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.” Bin Laden urged his followers to act: “The ruling to kill all Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.”

Although war was temporarily averted by a last-minute deal brokered by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, tensions soon rose again. The standoff with Iraq came to a head in December 1998, when President Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox, a 70-hour bombing campaign that began on December 16 and ended three days later, on December 19, 1998.

According to press reports at the time, Faruq Hijazi, deputy director of Iraqi Intelligence, met with bin Laden in Afghanistan on December 21, 1998, to offer bin Laden safe haven in Iraq. CIA reporting in the memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee seems to confirm this meeting and relates two others.

15. A foreign government service reported that an Iraqi delegation, including at least two Iraqi intelligence officers formerly assigned to the Iraqi Embassy in Pakistan, met in late 1998 with bin Laden in Afghanistan.

16. According to CIA reporting, bin Laden and Zawahiri met with two Iraqi intelligence officers in Afghanistan in Dec. 1998.

17. . . . Iraq sent an intelligence officer to Afghanistan to seek closer ties to bin Laden and the Taliban in late 1998. The source reported that the Iraqi regime was trying to broaden its cooperation with al Qaeda. Iraq was looking to recruit Muslim “elements” to sabotage U.S. and U.K. interests. After a senior Iraqi intelligence officer met with Taliban leader
[Mullah] Omar, arrangements were made for a series of meetings between the Iraqi intelligence officer and bin Laden in Pakistan. The source noted Faruq Hijazi was in Afghanistan in late 1998.

18. . . . Faruq Hijazi went to Afghanistan in 1999 along with several other Iraqi officials to meet with bin Laden. The source claimed that Hijazi would have met bin Laden only at Saddam’s explicit direction.

An analysis that follows No. 18 provides additional context and an explanation of these reports:

Reporting entries #4, #11, #15, #16, #17, and #18, from different sources, corroborate each other and provide confirmation of meetings between al Qaeda operatives and Iraqi intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. None of the reports have information on operational details or the purpose of such meetings. The covert nature of the relationship would indicate strict compartmentation [sic] of operations.

Information about connections between al Qaeda and Iraq was so widespread by early 1999 that it made its way into the mainstream press. A January 11, 1999, Newsweek story ran under this headline: “Saddam + Bin Laden?” The story cited an “Arab intelligence source” with knowledge of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. “According to this source, Saddam expected last month’s American and British bombing campaign to go on much longer than it did. The dictator believed that as the attacks continued, indignation would grow in the Muslim world, making his terrorism offensive both harder to trace and more effective. With acts of terror contributing to chaos in the region, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait might feel less inclined to support Washington. Saddam’s long-term strategy, according to several sources, is to bully or cajole Muslim countries into breaking the embargo against Iraq, without waiting for the United Nations to lift if formally.”

INTELLIGENCE REPORTS about the nature of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda from mid-1999 through 2003 are conflicting. One senior Iraqi intelligence officer in U.S. custody, Khalil Ibrahim Abdallah, “said that the last contact between the IIS and al Qaeda was in July 1999. Bin Laden wanted to meet with Saddam, he said. The guidance sent back from Saddam’s office reportedly ordered Iraqi intelligence to refrain from any further contact with bin Laden and al Qaeda. The source opined that Saddam wanted to distance himself from al Qaeda.”

The bulk of reporting on the relationship contradicts this claim. One report states that “in late 1999” al Qaeda set up a training camp in northern Iraq that “was operational as of 1999.” Other reports suggest that the Iraqi regime contemplated several offers of safe haven to bin Laden throughout 1999.

23. . . . Iraqi officials were carefully considering offering safe haven to bin Laden and his closest collaborators in Nov. 1999. The source indicated the idea was put forward by the presumed head of Iraqi intelligence in Islamabad (Khalid Janaby) who in turn was in frequent contact and had good relations with bin Laden.

Some of the most intriguing intelligence concerns an Iraqi named Ahmed Hikmat Shakir:

24. According to sensitive reporting, a Malaysia-based Iraqi national (Shakir) facilitated the arrival of one of the Sept 11 hijackers for an operational meeting in Kuala Lumpur (Jan 2000). Sensitive reporting indicates Shakir’s travel and contacts link him to a worldwide network of terrorists, including al Qaeda. Shakir worked at the Kuala Lumpur airport—a job he claimed to have obtained through an Iraqi embassy employee.

One of the men at that al Qaeda operational meeting in the Kuala Lumpur Hotel was Tawfiz al Atash, a top bin Laden lieutenant later identified as the mastermind of the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole.

25. Investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 by al Qaeda revealed no specific Iraqi connections but according to the CIA, “fragmentary evidence points to possible Iraqi involvement.”

26. During a custodial interview, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi [a senior al Qaeda operative] said he was told by an al Qaeda associate that he was tasked to travel to Iraq (1998) to establish a relationship with Iraqi intelligence to obtain poisons and gases training. After the USS Cole bombing in 2000, two al Qaeda operatives were sent to Iraq for CBW-related [Chemical and Biological Weapons] training beginning in Dec 2000. Iraqi intelligence was “encouraged” after the embassy and USS Cole bombings to provide this training.

The analysis of this report follows.

CIA maintains that Ibn al-Shaykh’s timeline is consistent with other sensitive reporting indicating that bin Laden asked Iraq in 1998 for advanced weapons, including CBW and “poisons.”

Additional reporting also calls into question the claim that relations between Iraq and al Qaeda cooled after mid-1999:

27. According to sensitive CIA reporting, . . . the Saudi National Guard went on a kingdom-wide state of alert in late Dec 2000 after learning Saddam agreed to assist al Qaeda in attacking U.S./U.K. interests in Saudi Arabia.

And then there is the alleged contact between lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague. The reporting on those links suggests not one meeting, but as many as four. What’s more, the memo reveals potential financing of Atta’s activities by Iraqi intelligence.

The Czech counterintelligence service reported that the Sept. 11 hijacker [Mohamed] Atta met with the former Iraqi intelligence chief in Prague, [Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir] al Ani, on several occasions. During one of these meetings, al Ani ordered the IIS finance officer to issue Atta funds from IIS financial holdings in the Prague office.

And the commentary:

CIA can confirm two Atta visits to Prague—in Dec. 1994 and in June 2000; data surrounding the other two—on 26 Oct 1999 and 9 April 2001—is complicated and sometimes contradictory and CIA and FBI cannot confirm Atta met with the IIS. Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross continues to stand by his information.

It’s not just Gross who stands by the information. Five high-ranking members of the Czech government have publicly confirmed meetings between Atta and al Ani. The meeting that has gotten the most press attention—April 9, 2001—is also the most widely disputed. Even some of the most hawkish Bush administration officials are privately skeptical that Atta met al Ani on that occasion. They believe that reports of the alleged meeting, said to have taken place in public, outside the headquarters of the U.S.-financed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, suggest a level of sloppiness that doesn’t fit the pattern of previous high-level Iraq-al Qaeda contacts.

Whether or not that specific meeting occurred, the report by Czech counterintelligence that al Ani ordered the Iraqi Intelligence Service officer to provide IIS funds to Atta might help explain the lead hijacker’s determination to reach Prague, despite significant obstacles, in the spring of 2000. (Note that the report stops short of confirming that the funds were transferred. It claims only that the IIS officer requested the transfer.) Recall that Atta flew to Prague from Germany on May 30, 2000, but was denied entry because he did not have a valid visa. Rather than simply return to Germany and fly directly to the United States, his ultimate destination, Atta took pains to get to Prague. After he was refused entry the first time, he traveled back to Germany, obtained the proper paperwork, and caught a bus back to Prague. He left for the United States the day after arriving in Prague for the second time.

Several reports indicate that the relationship between Saddam and bin Laden continued, even after the September 11 attacks:

31. An Oct. 2002 . . . report said al Qaeda and Iraq reached a secret agreement whereby Iraq would provide safe haven to al Qaeda members and provide them with money and weapons. The agreement reportedly prompted a large number of al Qaeda members to head to Iraq. The report also said that al Qaeda members involved in a fraudulent passport network for al Qaeda had been directed to procure 90 Iraqi and Syrian passports for al Qaeda personnel.

The analysis that accompanies that report indicates that the report fits the pattern of Iraq-al Qaeda collaboration:

References to procurement of false passports from Iraq and offers of safe haven previously have surfaced in CIA source reporting considered reliable. Intelligence reports to date have maintained that Iraqi support for al Qaeda usually involved providing training, obtaining passports, and offers of refuge. This report adds to that list by including weapons and money. This assistance would make sense in the aftermath of 9-11.

Colin Powell, in his February 5, 2003, presentation to the U.N. Security Council, revealed the activities of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Reporting in the memo expands on Powell’s case and might help explain some of the resistance the U.S. military is currently facing in Iraq.

37. Sensitive reporting indicates senior terrorist planner and close al Qaeda associate al Zarqawi has had an operational alliance with Iraqi officials. As of Oct. 2002, al Zarqawi maintained contacts with the IIS to procure weapons and explosives, including surface-to-air missiles from an IIS officer in Baghdad. According to sensitive reporting, al Zarqawi was setting up sleeper cells in Baghdad to be activated in case of a U.S. occupation of the city, suggesting his operational cooperation with the Iraqis may have deepened in recent months. Such cooperation could include IIS provision of a secure operating bases [sic] and steady access to arms and explosives in preparation for a possible U.S. invasion. Al Zarqawi’s procurements from the Iraqis also could support al Qaeda operations against the U.S. or its allies elsewhere.

38. According to sensitive reporting, a contact with good access who does not have an established reporting record: An Iraqi intelligence service officer said that as of mid-March the IIS was providing weapons to al Qaeda members located in northern Iraq, including rocket propelled grenade (RPG)-18 launchers. According to IIS information, northern Iraq-based al Qaeda members believed that the U.S. intended to strike al Qaeda targets during an anticipated assault against Ansar al-Islam positions.

The memo further reported pre-war intelligence which “claimed that an Iraqi intelligence official, praising Ansar al-Islam, provided it with $100,000 and agreed to continue to give assistance.”

CRITICS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION have complained that Iraq-al Qaeda connections are a fantasy, trumped up by the warmongers at the White House to fit their preconceived notions about international terror; that links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have been routinely “exaggerated” for political purposes; that hawks “cherry-picked” bits of intelligence and tendentiously presented these to the American public.

Carl Levin, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, made those points as recently as November 9, in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” Republicans on the committee, he complained, refuse to look at the administration’s “exaggeration of intelligence.”

Said Levin: “The question is whether or not they exaggerated intelligence in order to carry out their purpose, which was to make the case for going to war. Did we know, for instance, with certainty that there was any relationship between the Iraqis and the terrorists that were in Afghanistan, bin Laden? The administration said that there’s a connection between those terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Iraq. Was there a basis for that?”

There was, as shown in the memo to the committee on which Levin serves. And much of the reporting comes from Clinton-era intelligence. Not that you would know this from Al Gore’s recent public statements. Indeed, the former vice president claims to be privy to new “evidence” that the administration lied. In an August speech at New York University, Gore claimed: “The evidence now shows clearly that Saddam did not want to work with Osama bin Laden at all, much less give him weapons of mass destruction.” Really?

One of the most interesting things to note about the 16-page memo is that it covers only a fraction of the evidence that will eventually be available to document the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. For one thing, both Saddam and bin Laden were desperate to keep their cooperation secret. (Remember, Iraqi intelligence used liquid paper on an internal intelligence document to conceal bin Laden’s name.) For another, few people in the U.S. government are expressly looking for such links. There is no Iraq-al Qaeda equivalent of the CIA’s 1,400-person Iraq Survey Group currently searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.

Instead, CIA and FBI officials are methodically reviewing Iraqi intelligence files that survived the three-week war last spring. These documents would cover several miles if laid end-to-end. And they are in Arabic. They include not only connections between bin Laden and Saddam, but also revolting details of the regime’s long history of brutality. It will be a slow process.

So Feith’s memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee is best viewed as sort of a “Cliff’s Notes” version of the relationship. It contains the highlights, but it is far from exhaustive.

One example. The memo contains only one paragraph on Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, the Iraqi facilitator who escorted two September 11 hijackers through customs in Kuala Lumpur. U.S. intelligence agencies have extensive reporting on his activities before and after the September 11 hijacking. That they would include only this brief overview suggests the 16-page memo, extensive as it is, just skims the surface of the reporting on Iraq-al Qaeda connections.

Other intelligence reports indicate that Shakir whisked not one but two September 11 hijackers—Khalid al Midhar and Nawaq al Hamzi—through the passport and customs process upon their arrival in Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2000. Shakir then traveled with the hijackers to the Kuala Lumpur Hotel where they met with Ramzi bin al Shibh, one of the masterminds of the September 11 plot. The meeting lasted three days. Shakir returned to work on January 9 and January 10, and never again.

Shakir got his airport job through a contact at the Iraqi Embassy. (Iraq routinely used its embassies as staging grounds for its intelligence operations; in some cases, more than half of the alleged “diplomats” were intelligence operatives.) The Iraqi embassy, not his employer, controlled Shakir’s schedule. He was detained in Qatar on September 17, 2001. Authorities found in his possession contact information for terrorists involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 embassy bombings, the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, and the September 11 hijackings. The CIA had previous reporting that Shakir had received a phone call from the safe house where the 1993 World Trade Center attacks had been plotted.

The Qataris released Shakir shortly after his arrest. On October 21, 2001, he flew to Amman, Jordan, where he was to change planes to a flight to Baghdad. He didn’t make that flight. Shakir was detained in Jordan for three months, where the CIA interrogated him. His interrogators concluded that Shakir had received extensive training in counter-interrogation techniques. Not long after he was detained, according to an official familiar with the intelligence, the Iraqi regime began to “pressure” Jordanian intelligence to release him. At the same time, Amnesty International complained that Shakir was being held without charge. The Jordanians released him on January 28, 2002, at which point he is believed to have fled back to Iraq.

Was Shakir an Iraqi agent? Does he provide a connection between Saddam Hussein and September 11? We don’t know. We may someday find out.

But there can no longer be any serious argument about whether Saddam Hussein’s Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans.

Stephen F. Hayes is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)

Damning with faint prase

also from BeverageNet

Reviews of the Bong Water company’s product line:

Bong Water Original Chronic is a unique tasting beverage that features whole beer concentrate (no alcohol). We really can’t say that we found this beverage to be refreshing — the flavor is too concocted. Furthermore, we really do not understand the druggie theme. However, we will give them some points for originality — the beer concentrate is nice as it supposedly has health benefits.

Bong Water Cottonmouth Quencher is a unique product with a bitter citrus flavor. We didn’t find it to be refreshing — the flavor is not well defined and just too odd and bitter to be something that we would consume on a regular basis.

Bong Water Green Dreams has an odd flavor that we did not enjoy — it just tastes like a horrible concoction. Even more of a disappointment is the drug theme. Unless we are missing something, this product markets itself with several drug-like themes…a bit tired, in our opinion.

Purple Haze is yet another soda from Bong Water - it has a sweet flavor with a slightly bitter finish. It’s hard to tell exactly what type of flavor they are going for as it tastes just plain odd. Overall, we did not like the flavor. Not something that we would drink on a regular basis.

Memo to R&D - put down the pipe and start doing some marketing surveys…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)

Turkey and Gravy Soda?

from BeverageNet

Seattle, WA, U.S.A. – Jones Soda Co. (the “Company” or “Jones Soda”), announces today that it will introduce a new seasonal flavor in its popular Jones Soda line – Turkey & Gravy flavored beverage.


Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

Hunter shot after being mistaken for bear

from The Whig

But the 38-year-old nearly became prize game himself when another hunter mistook Mossman for a bear and shot him in the leg. The Kingston man is recovering at home, another victim of the dozens of hunting accidents that happen each year in Canada.

It happened on Nov. 3, the first day of the deer season. Mossman, dressed in a bright orange hunting jacket, was at the 600-hectare hunt camp in Griffith, north of Kingston, that he shares with his father and a dozen cousins and friends.
(emphasis mine)

Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

Contortionist in MRI machine

from the BBC

Doctors have scanned the spine of a stage contortionist in a bid to work out why she is so flexible.

The results suggest both genes and intensive training enable the unusual body movements of such performers.

The researchers, led by Dr Richard Wiseman, found no evidence of deformed bone structures that might contribute - simply extra-stretchy ligaments.


Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:01 PM | Comments (0)

Whistling language

from the RedNova news service:

Cabello is a “silbador,” until recently a dying breed on tiny, mountainous La Gomera, one of Spain’s Canary Islands off West Africa. Like his father and grandfather before him, Cabello, 50, knows “Silbo Gomero,” a language that’s whistled, not spoken, and can be heard more than two miles away.

This chirpy brand of chatter is thought to have come over with early African settlers 2,500 years ago. Now, educators are working hard to save it from extinction by making schoolchildren study it up to age 14.

A sample is available here

Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)

Traffic Jam

from the Canadian National Post

The world’s largest herd of caribou is using a major highway for its annual migration this year, causing unprecedented traffic tie-ups in Labrador that may last well into next spring.

The George River herd, which numbers about 800,000 free-roaming caribou, migrates from the northernmost reaches of Quebec to the Labrador Sea at this time each year, but the final stretch of this year’s trek has been dramatically altered by a stretch of unseasonably warm weather.

The result is that about 15,000 caribou are routinely stopping traffic along the Trans-Labrador Highway between Churchill Falls and the Ossokmanuan Reservoir.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)

Marketing 101

from The Media Guardian

When Sharwoods launched its latest product range earlier this month, it promised the “deliciously rich” sauces based on a traditional northern Indian method of cooking would “change the way consumers make curry”.

So confident was Sharwoods that its new Bundh sauces would be a hit that it backed the launch with a huge £6m television advertising campaign created by Labour’s advertising agency, TBWA.

What it failed to foresee was that “bundh” in Punjabi has an altogether less savoury meaning - the nearest English translation being, to put it bluntly, “arse”.


The Guardian has a link to other advertising gaffes:

KFC’s “finger lickin’ good” slogan was mistranslated in China as “eat your fingers off”.

The Ford Pinto flopped when it was launched in Brazil. Mystified executives later learned “pinto” is local slang for small genitals.

and more

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

Need I say more

From the wonderful Reader’s Sheds website…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

The Hubble Space Telescope must die.

from the Washington Post

Some of the telescope’s systems are showing the effects of 13 years of wear and tear in space. A far more advanced successor is being readied, and NASA officials have long maintained that the Hubble must be retired in a few years to free up money to pay for the newcomer.


At the Friday meeting, the parties agreed to postpone a decision on one of the most contentious issues: whether NASA would consider prolonging the telescope’s useful life until 2020, as recommended recently by a prestigious independent panel of top scientists led by John Bahcall of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

That would require an extra refurbishing visit by astronauts at an estimated cost of at least $600 million and possibly much more — money that is not currently contemplated in NASA’s budget planning.

NASA upset many space scientists by presenting them with a stark choice: Either sacrifice the extra servicing mission for the Hubble or give up many years worth of smaller, fast-response space science missions.

Tough call - the new scope will be a lot better but there is a lot of useful work that can still be done with the Hubble…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)


Billy Bob Thornton is playing Santa

Is nothing sacred?

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

New particle is double trouble for physicists

from New Scientist

A mysterious sub-atomic particle has been revealed that does not to fit any of the models currently used by physicists.

The discovery either suggests that a new family of molecule-like sub-atomic particles exists, or that theorists must substantially re-think their theory of the masses of sub-atomic particles.


Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

U.S. takes hard line on Greenpeace

from MS/NBC

When Greenpeace activists illegally scrambled aboard the cargo ship APL Jade, it was the start of a pretty typical day. Convinced the ship was hauling contraband mahogany from Brazil, the environmentalists aimed to draw attention to it by unfurling a banner with this message: “President Bush, Stop Illegal Logging.” Their arrests by the Coast Guard were also part of a day’s work. But the later use of an obscure 19th century law to charge the entire organization with criminal conspiracy has Greenpeace defenders claiming that they are the target of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s attempts to stifle political criticism of the government.

Awwww… They want things their way and don’t want the nasty laws to be used against them. Hey - the law was on the books and they did the deed…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

Norfolk & Waay

Our name says it all…

Our reputation has been spread across the Internet through usenet newsgroups and other disucussion forums. Whenever someone is looking for a firm that can do the impossible, the answer is always “Norfolk & Waay.”

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

cell phones in Iraq

from Time Magazine

When U.S. authorities in Iraq picked three companies last month to build a wireless telephone network for the country, they were pleased that no Americans were among the winners, a fact they hoped would silence those who charge that the Bush Administration is handing reconstruction contracts only to business cronies and campaign contributors. But some telecom-industry insiders complain that the winners of the licenses, which cost just $5 million but could eventually be worth as much as $1 billion a year, benefited from ties to prominent Iraqis on the U.S.-backed Governing Council. The majority partner in the consortium that was awarded the southern-Iraq license, for instance, is Dijla Telecommunications Corporation, a Baghdad outfit headed by Ali Shawkat, the son of Mudhar Shawkat, a senior adviser to Iraqi National Congress President Ahmad Chalabi. Coalition officials and the Shawkats denied to Time that the family’s connections were behind the decision to grant Dijla the license. But others contend the deal reeks of cronyism. “The mobile contracts were all politically divided,” says an Iraqi emigre who returned as a consultant for a telecom firm. “It’s the same as Saddam’s time. It’s about who you know.”

Actually, this is a bit more complex than it seems on the surface…

There are two basic standards for cell phone technology - CDMA and GSM

CDMA is the better of the two by far and is the one used in most of the US.

GSM is the one used by 90% of the Arab nations (and Old Europe).

GSM was chosen - even though it’s faults are known - to match the phone system in use in the area.

For a great discussion of the two standards, check out Steven DenBeste’s website here

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)

Detective quits race crime job over Nazi shrine

from the Telegraph

A detective responsible for investigating race-hate crime, who was exposed by the Telegraph as being married to a British National Party member and living in a shrine to Hitler, has resigned from her post.

Dc Linda Daniels, who worked for the community safety unit in Notting Hill, west London, lives in a house in Essex festooned with Nazi regalia and has a dummy in an SS uniform in her hallway.

The couple’s dog is named Blondi after Hitler’s pet alsatian and they used to keep a bust of the dictator next to a picture of Dc Daniels in police uniform. Her husband of 10 years, Keith Beaumont, is a member of the far-Right BNP and believes that the facts of the Holocaust have been “exaggerated”.

Getting a little close to your work? Sheesh!

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)

mp3's? Send them back


1. Look up the email address of your regional RIAA authority (listed in your white pages under “Recording Industry: Regional Authorities)

2. Open up your email program, such as Microsoft Outlook™ or Microsoft Outlook Express™

3. Create an email to the email address you found.

4. Attach all the MP3s you’re returning. (If you don’t know how to attach a file, look in the help file for your email program).

5. Press send.


Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2003

Nigerian scam emails - 419

from /.

davesag writes “I just came across this fine site, 419Eater, wherin people counter scam the Nigerian 419 scammers that have been plaguing our spam filters for the past few years. The UK paper The Guardian is also running a fine article on this site. The site author, and several other contributors, have taken to responding to the scammers, using obviously fake names and so forth, and then string the scammer along for as long as possible. In many cases they get the scammer to pose for a photograph! Amazingly the scammers are just as gullible and greedy as their typical victims, and fall for the most obvious ruses hook, line, and sinker. 419eater welcomes contributors, so if you ever wanted to get your sweet revenge on these low-lives, here’s a channel for you. The 419 refers to the section of the Nigerian criminal code under which such scams fall.” We’ve linked to a few such fraud-baiters before, though few with as amusing a photograph.


These are these wonderful emails that purport to be the relative of some deposed governmental official who has access to $12 million dollars in some bank account… You have read them. Good to see some action against them since these are nasty people if you persue this further and actually try to meet them.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)

Brazil leaning towards open source / away from MSFT

interesting article from excite news

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) - If he is to make good on his promise to improve life for the tens of millions of Brazilians who live in dire poverty, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva knows that one key challenge is to bridge a massive technology gap. And if that means shunning Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) software in South America’s largest country, then so be it.

Silva’s top technology officer wants to transform the land of samba and Carnival into a tech-savvy nation where everyone from schoolchildren to government bureaucrats uses open-source software instead of costly Windows products.

Such a policy makes eminent sense for a developing country where a mere 10 percent of the 170 million people have computers at home and where the debt-laden government is the nation’s biggest computer buyer, says Sergio Amadeu, the open-source enthusiast appointed to head Brazil’s National Information Techonology Institute by Silva after the president took office this year.

Paying software licensing fees to companies like Microsoft is simply “unsustainable economically” when applications that run on the open-source Linux operating system are much cheaper, Amadeu said. Under his guidance, Silva’s administration is encouraging all sectors of government to move toward open-source programs, whose basic code is public and freely available.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

Interesting approach to MalWare

from e4engineering

A computer scientist at Washington University in St. Louis has developed technology to stop malicious software - malware - such as viruses and worms long before it has a chance to reach computers in the home and office.

John Lockwood, Ph.D, an assistant professor of computer science at Washington University, and the graduate students that work in his research laboratory have developed a hardware platform called the Field-programmable Port Extender (FPX) that scans for malware transmitted over a network and filters out unwanted data.

‘The FPX uses several patented technologies in order to scan for the signatures of malware quickly,’ said Lockwood. ‘Unlike existing network intrusion systems, the FPX uses hardware, not software, to scan data quickly. The FPX can scan each and every byte of every data packet transmitted through a network at a rate of 2.4 billion bits per second. In other words, the FPX could scan every word in the entire works of Shakespeare in about 1/60th of a second.’

Potentially interesting - a link to the original paper is here (PDF)

Posted by Dave Halliday at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)

terrorist bombings in Istanbul

from Instapundit

ANKARA BLOGGER KRIS LOFGREN is blogging this morning’s horrific synagogue bombings in Istanbul, which are apparently the work of Al Qaeda. Lots of links and photos; just keep scrolling for as long as you can stand it.


Posted by Dave Halliday at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)


from News of the World

A report on the living conditions in jail of the guy convicted for masterminding the Lockerbie terrorist bomb that killed 270 innocent people.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was sentenced to life in 2001 for his horrific attack, which blew up a packed Pan Am airliner over a tiny Scottish town.

But although caged in one of Britain’s toughest jails, our exclusive pictures show the 51-year-old monster occupies a suite with facilities to rival a four-star hotel.

They include his own kitchen and shower-room, a sitting room, office, and bedroom with en-suite toilet.

His rooms are kitted out with a colour television, video recorder, stereo and personal computer.

Prison bosses have even piped Arabic TV station Al-Jazeera—famed as the mouthpiece of terror chief Osama bin Laden—into his cell.

Meanwhile, unlike other prisoners forced to barter their precious phonecards, Al Megrahi is allowed unlimited access to the telephone.

Our astonishing photos were smuggled out of Glasgow’s Barlinnie prison by an insider disgusted at facilities laid on for the bomber.

They show how floral curtains soften the lines of Al Megrahi’s barred windows—and framed art prints adorn the walls of his “cell”.

The sofa in his day room is big enough to seat three. His coffee table is littered with remote controls for his entertainment system.

Fresh food and meat butchered in accordance with his Muslim faith is delivered for him to prepare himself. Other hot meals are delivered to his rooms.

Intelligence officer Al Megrahi is also allowed to keep a private collection of videos, books and pictures.

Visitors to his ground floor suite have included former South African president Nelson Mandela and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The statesmen visited to check the prisoner’s conditions and Mr Mandela discussed a campaign to move him to a prison in his own country.

A framed photo of Mandela seated with Al Megrahi on the cell’s sofa takes pride of place on the desk.

The terrorist has also pinned postcards from pals to his wall, including one showing the London Eye.

And when he gets bored with the entertainment laid on in his suite, Al Megrahi plays his prison guards at football in an exercise yard.

The jail insider, a former employee, said: “I would be amazed if that guy wanted to move from Barlinnie—he could not do better at the Ritz.

“To my mind this bloke is a mass murderer, yet he’s living like a prince at the expense of the British people.

Disgusting - scum of the earth and we kowtow to them like they are royalty.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 08:15 PM | Comments (0)

Very cool story

from WorldNet Daily

An 89-year-old woman who lost her home because of $572 in unpaid taxes will get it back from the man who bought the million-dollar property in a government auction for $15,000.

Helene Shue, who has lived on her 41-acre farm near Hershey, Pa., for five decades, had paid her taxes in full every year – including this one – but was short in her 2001 payment, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported.

The buyer, Philip Dobson of Middle Paxton Township, Pa., informed Shue’s nephew, John Arndt, he would give back the land after the story gained national attention.

Dobson, a business owner who invests in real estate, said, according to the paper, he “had no idea when I bought it that there was an 89-year-old widow living there. I found that out when I was reading the newspaper.”

The decision to give it back, he said, “was a no-brainer, a moral issue, not a legal one. The property should be returned to her.”

“I got something better than a million-dollar property,” he told the Harrisburg daily. “I got a hug from a little old lady. That was worth more than anyone could imagine.”

Good people…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 08:11 PM | Comments (0)

Arnold and Ronnie - first terms in office

starting with similar problems…

from the Sacremento Bee

When Arnold Schwarzenegger is sworn in as California’s 38th governor Monday morning, he’ll be staring at much the same type of intractable mess his hero, Ronald Reagan, faced when he took office in 1967.

The budget deficit is out of control. No one is willing to cut necessary state programs. The public is fed up with Sacramento’s dysfunctional politics. Voter-approved spending mandates limit the governor’s options.

Like Schwarzenegger, fellow Republican and political novice Reagan promised in his campaign to cut taxes and finally force state government to live within its means.

That pledge lasted two days.

Reagan barely knew his way to the men’s room before proposing the biggest tax hike of any governor in history, telling aides he didn’t want to wait “until everyone forgets that we did not cause the problem — we only inherited it.”

Despite campaign promises, the last Republican movie star to become governor realized immediately that he had to swallow a tax increase or fail, biographer Lou Cannon writes in his new book on the ex-president’s Sacramento years, “Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power.”

Posted by Dave Halliday at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

Comet Encke in the sky

from MS/NBC

Binocs and small telescopes only but still a very cool comet both from an historical and an astronomical sense.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 08:07 PM | Comments (0)

Concorde's nose fetches 278,650

from Yahoo/Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) - The sleek needle-nose of the supersonic Concorde was sold to an anonymous buyer for 278,650 pounds at an auction, over 30 times the price it was expected to fetch, auctioneers Christie’s say.

Over two hundred Concorde souvenirs, from the plane’s instruction manual to its engine, were up for grabs in the auction, which brought in a total of 3.29 million euros.

Christie’s had expected to bring in a total of only about 250,000 euros from the sale, whose proceeds go to the Air France foundation, a charity for under-privileged children.

The proceeds go to a charity so this is quite cool… Wouldn’t have minded a bit of it myself but then again, Seattle just landed an entire plane so I can go visit that one anytime I want… :-)

Posted by Dave Halliday at 08:05 PM | Comments (0)

Greusome discovery - is it art?

from Yahoo/Reuters

Hanging Corpse Admired as Sculpture on Campus

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Police on Friday removed the corpse of a man believed to have hanged himself at least a year ago after builders and students at Budapest’s University of Arts had initially mistaken it for a modern sculpture.

The body hung for a whole day in a garden building that had been re-opened for repairs before onlookers realized what it was and called the police, local media said.

The building, in campus grounds crowded with different types of sculpture, had been closed five years ago pending reconstruction work.


Posted by Dave Halliday at 08:01 PM | Comments (0)

Surfing in -- Wisconsin???

from the Pioneer Press

Longboard, The Bear and yours truly are holding down a table at the east end of the tavern. The sky is slate gray, the wind blows hard from the north-northwest and the waters of Lake Michigan beyond the window are rolling and roiling. The hand of God is stirring a huge pot of Lake Michigan stew.

Outside, the air temperature is in the high 30s. The lake temperature is in the low 40s. The trees are stripped bare. I am reminded why November is my least favorite month.

Longboard and The Bear would disagree. They are thinking that, except for a few meteorological missteps, this could be a Grade-A day for surfing Sheboygan harbor.

We are the “Malibu of the Midwest,” Larry “Longboard” Williams pronounces after a short tug on his beer.

Absolutely,” agrees Mark “The Bear” Rakow.

it goes on:

The reason surfing is so good in Sheboygan, says Longboard, gesturing toward the lake, is because of a rock reef out there. He says the energy created by the wind and water surges forward when it collides with the reef.

“It creates a giant barrel-like wave that peels off just like the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii,” he explains, smiling at the thought of his own enthusiasm. “We get waves here big enough to hide a Volkswagen in.”

Standard surfing gear in Sheboygan this time of year includes an arctic wet suit with attached hood, plus neoprene boots and gloves. The only exposed part of the body is from your lower lip to your eyebrows, which, Longboard swears, “is not much different from being out in a snowstorm.”

“I surfed one day when it was 17 degrees with a minus-24 wind chill factor,” Longboard recalls with pride. “My mustache was frozen solid. I looked like Yosemite Sam.”

Fun article

Posted by Dave Halliday at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)

Man who jumped over Niagara Falls joins Texas circus

from the Detroit News

The only person to survive a plunge over Niagara Falls without a safety device has run off and joined the circus.

Kirk Jones, 40, planned to make his debut as the “world’s greatest stunt man” during a Friday night gig with the Toby Tyler Circus, now touring Texas’ Mexican border towns.

Great comment:

In the meantime, circus promoter Phil Dolci said Jones will have to work like everyone else in the troupe, washing elephants and taking down tents. “Everyone has a second job here,” Dulci said. “No free ride for Kirk.”

Posted by Dave Halliday at 07:55 PM | Comments (0)

Europe's retirees: time bomb

from the Houston Chronicle

PARIS — Bernard Foultier lives life fast and full — international travel, including trips to Japan and Bolivia, amateur photography, courses in history and art, and painting in his small home studio. He is bursting with energy at age 62. Even though he retired three years ago with a full government pension, he barely has time to pursue all the interests he put aside during his working life.

“I can’t find the time to satisfy all that I want to do,” he said at his apartment in a western Paris suburb. “I need a second life. There are so many things, so many things!”

For Foultier, who worked for three decades as an engineer at the state-owned electricity company EDF, these busy retirement years are like a second chance at youth. But he recognizes that large pensions like his are increasingly viewed in France as a luxury that the country can no longer afford. Indeed, all over Europe, a continent famous for generous social welfare systems, the same conclusion is being reached.

“It’s a problem,” Foultier acknowledged. “People will have to work longer.”

It goes on:

Here in France, every 10 workers now support four retirees. By 2040, without changes to the system, 10 workers will have to support seven pensioners, the government projects. Today in France, one person out of five is now over 60; by 2040, the number is projected to be one in three.

Major changes are needed over there if the governing classes want to hold off a political upheaval…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

The ugliest salmon in the world

from the Scotland Sunday Post

When an angler went fishing on the River Tay, little did he know he’d be coming face to face with the ugliest salmon he’d ever seen.

Ramsay Johnson, from Blairgowrie, was introduced to the sport by his father as a young boy on the rivers of Northumbria. He’s been a keen salmon fisherman since moving to Scotland in 1968.

Over the years he’s caught dozens of salmon of all shapes and sizes, and among them have been some doubtful looking characters, but none as gruesome as the cock salmon he caught recently on the Cargill beat just north of Stanley.

Click on the link for a picture…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 07:50 PM | Comments (0)

What Is Your Degree Worth?

from MSN

A list of starting salaries for various College Degrees:

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) tracks the starting salaries of new graduates in particular disciplines. The NACE’s Summer 2003 Salary Survey reports the following average starting salaries for various college degrees:

Chemical engineering: $51,853
Electrical engineering: $49,946
Computer science: $47,419
Accounting: $40,546
Information sciences: $39,718
Marketing: $34,628
History: $32,108
English: $30,157
Psychology: $27,454

Posted by Dave Halliday at 07:49 PM | Comments (0)

Back again

had a wonderful lazy weekend - set up the weather station and the computer to process it. This will be of great help for IPM (Integrated Pest Management) when we put in the apples.

Back to blogging!!!

Posted by Dave Halliday at 07:40 PM | Comments (0)