Wednesday, November 30

Truth about Iraq Thanks to Senator Lieberman

On 18 November, I dared any Congressman to speak up about the current situation in Iraq. Somehow I am not surprised that it was Senator Lieberman to be the one to set the record straight on what is going on:

I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn.

Progress is visible and practical. In the Kurdish North, there is continuing security and growing prosperity. The primarily Shiite South remains largely free of terrorism, receives much more electric power and other public services than it did under Saddam, and is experiencing greater economic activity. The Sunni triangle, geographically defined by Baghdad to the east, Tikrit to the north and Ramadi to the west, is where most of the terrorist enemy attacks occur. And yet here, too, there is

Read the whole encouraging article here.

For some reason it seemed like Congress believes the distorted news coverage. We have limited options in finding out what is going on in Iraq. Unfortunately, most people want to believe that Iraq is a mess and the press happily provides them with what they need to believe the lie. However, Congress has access to information that we do not, including the ability to visit Iraq and see for themselves what is going on. Obviously many of them are ignoring this source of information.

Senator Lieberman's statement sharply contrasts with that Of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

"I'm endorsing what Mr. Murtha is saying, which is that the status quo is not working and that we need to have a plan that makes us safer and our military stronger and makes Iraq more stable," - Nancy Pelosi

No thanks. I'll stick with what the US Military is saying and what Senator Lieberman knows to be true. Perhaps it's time that Congresswoman Pelosi take another trip to Iraq to see what is really going on. Has she been back there since March? Back in March she admitted that it would take some time before the Iraqi's could manage their own security:

One of the primary purposes of our mission was to assess the political and security situation in Iraq, especially efforts to establish an effective Iraqi police force and army. Although some progress has been made, there is a significant way to go until the Iraqis are capable of providing for their security. - Nancy Pelosi, March 2005

How is the US pulling out going to make Iraq more stable when even Congresswoman Pelosi admits that they cannot secure the country without our assistance. Today she was bitching that the 35 page summary released by the White House was not enough. Of course she is ignoring the classified documents that she has access to. From what I can tell it's Pelosi's turn to provide us with her pullout plan that documents how the US can cut and run in a way that results in a situation better than we have now.

She doesn't have one. Nor does she care, other than to the extent that the war can be used to win seats in the next election. Lets face it, success in Iraq is not going to win the Democrats any votes.

Our Troops Must Stay - Opinion Journal
Top House Democrat backs Murtha on quick withdrawal from Iraq -
A Little Perspective On Military Deaths - FFI
A Letter To Nancy Pelosi - California Conservative

Tuesday, November 29

Holiday Tree? I Don't Think So.

What other holiday uses a tree that looks like a Christmas tree?

Hanukkah is celebrated around the same time but I know that there is no Hanukkah tree. Houses with lights for Hanukkah normally have the candle lights, not Christmas lights, or are those now holiday lights? Growing up, there was one classmate who was Jewish, and through the front window of their house you could see a Christmas tree. Ramadan is a different month every year, but you'll only be able to get a holiday tree for Ramadan if it falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This whole name game is stupid. It's Christmas and everyone knows it. Even non-Christians know it, especially those that own businesses. They look forward to the holiday shopping season just like everyone else.

They even celebrate Christmas in the middle east. I spent the Christmas of 1994 in Dubai. I had a great time. There are Christians that live in all the Middle East Countries.

So where do you buy these holiday trees? Do people buy holiday trees? Do people who think these things should be called holiday trees have a holiday tee at home? Why don't they sell these trees after Christmas?

Don't get me wrong. I am not trying to push Christmas on anyone. I wish people a happy Hanukkah and Ramadan, especially if they wish me a happy one. I don't get offended. The point is that it is supposed to be a happy time. It's your problem if your an atheist. It is possible to celebrate Christmas without the religious aspect of it. Many Christians do exactly that, although not on purpose.

Anyway, Christmas is not the problem. If you really want to separate religion from the Government, then your going to have to change the number system of the year. 2005 counts backwards to what year? Perhaps we could use the years since 1776.

Finally, hats off to Christmas Tree Farmer Donnie Hill in Halifax Canada. He sent a Christmas tree to Boston (Halifax sends one every year as a gift) only to find out that they were renaming it a Holiday Tree. According to the press "he'd rather see it run through the wood chipper in his backyard." -

"The States is never happy with the way things are. They always gotta change something. "Ever since I was born, a tree was put up for Christmas, not for holidays, because if you're gonna do that you might as well put a tree up for Easter." - Donnie Hill

Well put.

What is the significance of Easter? It's funny how many of the first settlers to the US were escaping religious persecution in Europe so that they can practice their religion here in peace. The Constitution separates Church and State. It does not remove the Church from society.

No 'holiday' tree for this grower -

Minors, the Death Penalty and Abortion

The Supreme Court decided earlier this year that it is not right to execute a minor, even if they commit murder. It's pretty sad that the case that came before the Supreme Court was one of a minor who committed the murder did it as a minor because he knew he would "Get away with it." The jury that heard the case and his interpretation of the law, decided to send him to death row. Perhaps it was the details of the case:

In early September 1993, Simmons then 17, discussed with his friends, Charlie Benjamin (age 15) and John Tessmer (age 16), the possibility of committing a burglary and murdering someone. On several occasions, Simmons described the manner in which he planned to commit the crime: he would find someone to burglarize, tie the victim up, and ultimately push the victim off a bridge. Simmons assured his friends that their status as juveniles would allow them to "get away with it."

Simmons and Benjamin walked Mrs. Crook to the railroad trestle. There, Simmons bound her hands and feet together, hog-tie fashion, with the electrical cable and covered Mrs. Crook’s face completely with duct tape. Simmons then pushed her off the railroad trestle into the river below. At the time she fell, Mrs. Crook was alive and conscious. - Missouri Death Row

The whole purpose of the crime was to commit murder. I am not saying that he got away with it. I just don't see the point of not sending this person to death and instead keeping him locked up for the rest of his life with no chance of parole. That sounds a hell of a lot crueler than putting him to death. Now Justice Kennedy reason's that a juvenile's "deficiencies" have a greater chance of being reformed, so they should not be executed. But what's the point, since he'll never get out of jail anyway. In general, the Supreme Court reasoned that Minors are not full responsible for their actions, including murder.

Fair enough.

Which brings us to a case the Supreme Court has decided to hear concerning a New Hampshire Law that requires minor girls to notify at least one parent of their intent to have an abortion. Pro-abortion rights groups are against parental notification. I think the parents should not only be notified but probably should be forced to attend too. Personally I think the law should stand. Minors that need to get an abortion have problems that need to be addressed. If for some reason the problem is a male relative, then that problem needs to be addressed too. If for some reason daddy is the reason she's pregnant, then that it not a reason to not notify parents, that's a reason to notify the police.

I would be shocked to see the Supreme Court reason that it's acceptable for a minor to be fully accountable on their own to have an abortion. That wouldn't make sense.

I do not think the medical exemption will kill this law either:

"In an emergency, a woman needs to go to the hospital, not a courthouse," - Jennifer Dalven, ACLU Lawyer

I am not sure what kind of emergency the ACLU is thinking of that requires an immediate abortion. I thought that doctors first try to save the patient and the baby inside. Only once there is an examination would they realize that the baby needs to be removed to save the mother. Of course the emergency could be that the minor just realized that she's pregnant. I would think that it's the person's responsibility to get themselves to medical care, and then the medical staff's responsibility to determine the problem and suggest possible treatment, including abortion if needed. What if mom and dad brought her to the hospital. How hard is it to tell them?

The ACLU also failes to make a distinction between a woman and a girl. Does the ACLU suggest not telling the parents that their child is in the Hospital? What if this 'emergency' will result in the child being in the hospital for days. What about the bill? Is the ACLU going to require parents to pay for operations not knowing what operation was done? Why has the ACLU been silent on other laws affecting minor rights? Is the ACLU really suggesting that it's acceptable for a 16 year old girl to get an abortion without parental consent but is still five years too young to buy a beer, even with parental consent?

Ms. Dalven, please elaborate!

5-4 Supreme Court Abolishes Juvenile Executions - Washington Post
Court weighs girls' access to abortion - Christian Science Monitor

Previous post:

Do we really want to Force Liberals to have more children? The Abortion Issue. - FFI

Monday, November 28

Why the US holds detainees outside the US

At the end of World War II there were almost four hundred thousand German soldiers interned in POW camps in the US. A portion of the German’s captured by the allied forces were the responsibility of the US to hold until the conclusion of the war. To do this, troop ships were filled with prisoners as they were emptied of soldiers in Europe. After arrival in the US, they were put on trains for long trips to Middle America where their POW camps were located.

Housing prisoners of war in the US is nothing new, so why aren’t we housing prisoners of war from Afghanistan and Iraq in the US? Here are a couple of likely reasons why.

First, none of those being held meet the definition of a prisoner of war, other than some of the Iraqi Government Officials now on Trial. Most people are familiar with the existence of the Geneva Convention, but few actually understand the basic principles of it. Not only does the Convention have requirements on how prisoners are to be treated, but also have requirements on the behavior of “soldiers” in order to receive treatment in accordance with the Convention.

In addition to those caught physically fighting the US, there are also those who have been detained, accused of being support staff for terrorists. These people are as dangerous, if not more dangerous than the foot soldiers that they recruit and support. These people recruit those who conduct suicide attacks. They collect and then provide funding to terrorists as well as arrange for training, documentation and transportation. The only crime that many of these people have committed is limited to attending a training camp or even attempting to attend a training camp but failing to make it all the way to the camps in Afghanistan. Look at the “Portland Six” that were detained (and now jailed) for attempting to get to Afghanistan to fight the US.

Now the US has done the sensible thing by imprisoning these people whether caught on the battlefield, or caught as the result of finding information in a laptop in a computer in a terrorist hideout somewhere in the world. They are going after all the links in the terror chain and that is a problem because at some point the chain does cross into regular society and those links sometimes look just like yours and mine.

It seems that there are many out there who have no clue that there are people out there that would kill them if they could. Many terrorists are destined to only one act of violence, a suicide terrorist attack. Until that time, their main task is to train for their one event and to avoid capture.

For those in the supporting roles, their job is to accomplish their goals while blending in with the enemy, creating reasonable doubt just in case their true intentions are questioned or if they are ever detained or arrested. If any of these people are caught, the few pieces of incriminating evidence get lost in the static of neighbors commenting on what nice people they are, employers noting what good employees they are and nobody remembering any sign of radicalism. Then there are those who are not active in fighting but if asked will assist those who are. Finally there is the strange silence from the Muslim community in general. They are the ones best able to identify those who might be a threat, yet they don’t notify the authorities as if doing so might betray another Muslim. This thinking ignores the betrayal all the terror supporters are committing against other Muslims.

The game is not over if the terrorists happened to be caught either. This is where they call in their ‘useful idiots’ to gum up the Justice System.

A couple of terrorists have worked their way through the courts. John Walker Lindh The American Taliban, Richard Reid the ‘Shoe Bomber’, and Zacarias Moussaoui, who after two and a half years of turning his trial into a circus, finally got bored and admitted that he was indeed a terrorist and declared his allegiance to Osama Bin Laden. In Moussaoui’s case, the German Government has evidence against him but refuses to give it to the US Government unless they remove the threat of the death penalty for Moussaoui. The French apparently also gave information with the understanding (so they say) that he would not receive the death penalty as a result of their cooperation. This just proves that the terrorists were not stupid to choose Europe as a base of operations. Where would Richard Reid be now if his flight was headed to France from the US? Most likely in a French jail with a much shorter jail sentence. If they Europeans are so concerned about these people not facing the death penalty, then they should do a better job of preventing them from traveling to the US and arrest them before they can get set their feet on US soil.

Then there’s Jose Padilla, the ‘Dirty Bomber.’ Jose has been held for three years as an enemy combatant, despite being an American Citizen. Only now is he being charged with conspiracy to murder Americans. For some reason, he has not been charged with treason. He is also not being charged concerning the original reason why he was detained, which was planning to conduct a radiological ‘dirty bomb’ attack on the US.

He was not charged with that crime as the Government suspects that the evidence collected concerning that crime would not be admissible in court. However, that does not mean that he’s not guilty of that crime. It just illustrates the difficulty in fighting the war on terror both in the field and in the courts and how difficult it is to move suspects from one arena to the other.

Then we have Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a terrorist recently convicted of planning to kill President Bush and being a member of al-Qaeda. Ahmed had claimed that he was tortured into confessing, however, the jury did not believe that he was tortured, especially after viewing his confession tape.

It seems that there is a standard practice of the Muslim community to express outrage at the news of any Muslim being arrested on terror charges. Noting useful facts that it is ‘against Islam’ to kill civilians while ignoring the facts of why these people were detained in the first place.

Take a look at the website If you spend a couple minutes reading the stories of the prisoners, you will quickly realize that all these guys apparently ended up in Gitmo as the result of some sort of injustice. Some have no story, just a mailing address so that you can send them a postcard or whatever. I imagine that their stories don’t help their cause. At least David Hicks doesn’t hide much in his story. Then there are those that we are sure are terrorists who aren’t even mentioned, like Abdullah Mehsud (Noor Alam), who after his release from Gitmo went off and kidnapped two Chinese Engineers. Then there is Abdul Ghaffar who was released from Gitmo and later killed back in Afghanistan. His summary in Cage prisoners only mentions that he was “He was released and later killed”. So at least some of those released from Gitmo were terrorists. Unfortunately, this was only proven after their release through their future actions.

One of the most amazing episodes of the London subway bombing involved the capture of one of the bombers, Ramzi Mohammed. There the man was, standing in his underwear yelling out that he has rights. You can bet that there is no shortage of people that will ensure that the UK does not infringe on his rights. This is kind of silly since he had planned on blowing his rights all over the inside of a subway car.

Ramzi is a perfect example of how the terrorists will demand that ‘we’ play by our rules as they use our rules against us. Ramzi Mohammed managed to get into a position using his right to privacy where he could have killed many people. Unfortunately for him, his backpack didn’t explode. He just happened to be lucky enough that a quick-acting policeman didn’t have the opportunity to gun him down on the spot. Sure, he is not in the news at the moment, but give the moonbats some time. They will warm up to him. After all, if the leader of the crips can be reformed, why shouldn’t this guy be given another chance.

Unfortunately for other Muslims, the UK is now deporting people that they no longer want in their country, including those with the weakest of links to any terror entities. But enter the rights groups who claim that many of these people cannot be returned to their home countries because they are wanted there and those countries might not respect their human rights, forcing them to flee to the UK in the first place. These groups also sue to ensure that these deportees without a destination are not detained either, in an attempt to leave the person’s status as before, which does nothing to reduce the UK risk of another terror attack.

In the aftermath of the first London subway bombing, the Muslim community went into autopilot denying that the Muslims identified could not have been involved. A website even explains how these guys were ‘duped’ into carrying the explosives. (How the Government Staged the London Bombings in Ten Easy Steps) Too bad for them at least one of the terrorists left a video claiming responsibility for the attack. The reaction from the Muslim community was one of utter shock. That comes from living in utter denial. At least there is the fact that terrorist attacks did occur. Now just imagine if we had arrested Mohamed Atta on September first? At what point does a person become an imminent threat?

Atta’s lawyer would surely claim something like this:

There’s no evidence that terrorism was contemplated or being planned by any particular person at any particular time or in any particular place.”

Then there would be the Muslim Community that would express outrage as well as the usual crowd of sympathizers including members of the press that would claim that he and those arrested with him were singled out because they were Muslims.

Then there would also be cries of persecution and claims that there was no proof that Mr. Atta had done anything wrong and that all of his activities have more plausible, non-threatening alternative explanations. After all, most of these people are nobodies. There is nothing special about them and they live lives almost exactly like hundreds of thousands of people like them (with minor differences.) Their greatest asset to those that wish us harm is that a ‘nobody’ can kill much more effectively than a known criminal. After all the only real evidence might just be what is locked inside their brains.

So what happens once we catch these terrorists?

Take a look at what is going on in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, Gitmo. There is a never-ending stream of visitors from Congress, the International Red Cross and lawyers representing those who are held there. Then you also have those demanding to get access, such as the investigators from the UN and EU. It is not good enough to just be allowed to visit the prison; they are also demanding to be able to talk to the prisoners, in private.

As one UN investigator stated, the US MUST be hiding something at GITMO because they will not permit them to talk to the Prisoners in private. But he forgets to mention that the US already permits the International Red Cross to talk to prisoners in private. This is despite the fact that they have leaked information to the press in violation of their rules that permit these visits in the first place. (Strange that the UN has no interest in visiting the rest of Cuba to talk to Cuba’s prisoners, in private.)

The International Red Cross, IRC, acts as observers when it comes to Prisoners of War. There are no POWS in Gitmo. But the US is granting them access anyway to show that they are treating them in line with the Geneva Conventions. Of course the IRC does not like what is going and they are pushing to have these criminals granted full rights under the Geneva Convention even though al-Qaeda violates the rules of war by targeting civilians. Did they point out to the prisoners that they broke the rules of the Geneva Convention and that the US has no requirement to treat them as they are currently? I suspect not. Lets not forget that they have also targeted the UN, as was done in Iraq.

Now these are the 500 worst people that the US has found other than the really big fish that the US has confined in unknown locations around the world. These big fish are the ones who have declared jihad against the US. They are the ones who issue orders for their followers. They collect and distribute funds and hand out missions and targets. There is very good reason to keep their locations unknown and even in some cases prevent or delay news of their capture. Does the US get any slack in detaining these criminals? Not lately as the European Union has been creating such a stink about the possibility of secret CIA prisons somewhere in the EU. No wonder the US is acting like it has no friends in the war on terror. Look at how our friends are acting. Perhaps if the US got some cooperation, then its actions could be a little less extreme. It is teaching the US a lesson though, that perhaps Guantanamo is not such a bad place after all, compared to hiding them somewhere else. At least there you can control the Lawyers, plane spotters, International Officials, and the whole mess that goes with it. Right now, I am waiting for the first pictures to be published of these secret prisons as well as a location so that I can check it out in Google.
ACLU to Sue the CIA - Stop the ACLU

Saturday, November 26

Likely Unintended Effect of Fighting for Rights for Terrorists

The International Red Cross, the UN, the EU, Amnesty International, the ACLU, and the American anti-war-left all contribute to making the detention of enemy combatants a no-win situation for the US Government.

These groups are demanding due process and rights for those that do not deserve them, other than documenting that they are enemy combatants or terrorists. They also act as mouthpieces to pass on propaganda and false claims of torture by the US. (as opposed to isolated cases of torture)

This 'harassment' by the rights groups might actually create a situation where the US will simply prefer to neutralize terror suspects, given an option.

Since these organizations are making life difficult for the US to capture and hold terror suspects, it becomes much easier to just kill them off. For example:

A building is identified as a terrorist safe house. While it would make sense to capture those inside for questioning, despite a known danger that those inside, known to be armed will fight back, the Government might opt to instead have an air strike destroy the building. This will avoid the issue of dealing with the hassle of detaining 20-plus ‘insurgents’ for the opportunity to interrogate them. They will still leave behind a good deal of material in the rubble for intelligence to review.

Once the attack is over, no amount of bickering from the normal crowd will change anything. There cannot be any allegations of torture. No demands from lawyers to set them free. No concern that the persons neutralized will be able to escape or continue their war against the US if released, as has been proved by a number of released Gitmo detainees. there will also be no need to hunt around for secret CIA Prisons as there will not be a need for them.

The few High Profile detainees we can lockup in Federal Prison as illegal combatants. For the lesser terrorists that surrender, we can hopefully return them to their own countries to face justice. Many are wanted by their own Governments and face a much harsher fate than the US can dish out.

As a bonus, word will spread that the US can get them anywhere and that nowhere is safe.

Ever see the night vision video where a building is being watched? You know the one, where a couple of people walk out and look around and are then cut down by a hail of bullets before a cannon shot takes out the building. We need more of that.

Confusion lingers over Australian anti-terror laws - FT
CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons – Washington Post
Update: 5 December 2005
When a well placed bullet is better - Macsmind (Great Blog!)

Fred’s Car, Season’s First Snow, and Thanksgiving in PA

On Tuesday we drove up to my Aunt’s cottage in the forest in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It is a family tradition to have Thanksgiving there. By going there on Tuesday we avoided the rush and managed to spend some quality time with my aunt and Grandmother before the house filled to a total of 13.

On Thanksgiving morning we were greeted with the season’s first snow. The car looked great in it.

(Fred's 1994 BMW 325i with 170,000+ miles)

Happy Thanksgiving (belated) to all those who celebrate it!

For those who do not celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope that this last year has brought something that you can be thankful for!

Move Accomplished - From DC to VA

On Saturday 19 November we moved from Washington, DC to Virginia. We would have loved to stay in the building where we were living but it is impossible to get a two-bedroom apartment there unless a current tenant dies. Yes, there are places like that. Not that this place was great, but it was nice enough, and incredibly cheap. For our one-bedroom apartment, with balcony, we were paying $1,047/month. That included electric, heating and air conditioning and all only 2 miles north of the White House. Plus, there was this view of Rock Creek Park. Actually we were essentially in the park. Did I mention the balcony?

View from the Old Apartment

Woodpecker visiting the balcony feeder

No place is perfect and that was true for this one too. The building was full of immigrants. Some of the immigrants were not too concerned about trash and left it wherever, the stairwell, on the floor of the trash-chute room, instead of throwing it into the chute, and then there were the roaches. We could keep them out of the apartment but if the neighbor was not as careful then were would get the overflow. At least the building staff was good at cleaning up after the tenants and were also good at attacking apartments that we mentioned might have a roach problem. Not that I have a problem with immigrants, but I would have preferred more of a mixture of tenants, otherwise how will the newcomers learn how to behave in our society. At a more basic level, I would have preferred more people like me.

Then there was street parking. During the four years while living there, a tree fell on the car, the car was scratched, the license plates were stolen, and the car was broken into and my toolbox stolen as well as two pairs of sunglasses. The last incident prompted me to leave the glove box open and empty whenever it was parked, just so any other thieves could save themselves the trouble of wondering what was in there. I had also welded the replacement license places to the car to prevent them from disappearing again.

And finally, with it being DC, there was all that came with the city being the Nation’s Capital. Motorcades, diplomats, snipers, terror threats and the occasional anarchist protestor attempting to shutdown a road by running into the street to block traffic. (Hint: if this happens to you, speed up and show no emotion. If you happen to hit someone claim that you feared that they were going to pull you from the car and beat you. My experience is that they WILL get out of your way.)

We have decided to leave all that fun behind. After two weeks of packing, we got a rental truck for 9A.M. Saturday morning. My brother came over to help, as did a friend couple of ours. It took only two hours to load the truck and then three to unload it. Not bad considering that our new apartment is on the third floor of a building with no elevator.

The most interesting part of the move was driving the truck around. I rented it in VA and I had limited options getting it into DC as many of the main roads prohibit trucks. In the end, my route took me within blocks of the White House, but just far enough away to not be a threat. I was tailed on the way out of the city for a couple of blocks but must not have fit the profile. Go downtown enough and you will see no end of moving trucks pulled over because they didn’t realize all the truck restrictions.

So now I am kicking back enjoying my new apartment. Other benefits will include, lower state taxes, lower car insurance, safer neighborhood, shorter work commute (3 miles compared to 10 miles before,) and I can now legally own a firearm. Don’t think that I am a gun nut by mentioning the right to own firearms. The DC prohibition actually created a problem for me as I already owned three rifles. During this time I needed to keep them at my parent’s house since I could not keep them in my DC apartment.

We are quickly unpacking a ton of boxes as well as getting used to the increased space and new neighborhood. There is so much to do before we go on vacation in a couple of weeks to Finland.

Question of moving day: “Fred, why do you have a shovel?”

The view from the new apartment

No sign of birds, yet.

Monday, November 21


Drudge Report has caught CNN like a deer caught in headlights.

How exactly do you explain something like this:

I was off from work today and happened to watch this speech on CNN. I was shocked to see this on Drudge this evening. Apparently the x was displayed in intervals of less than a second so that it would not be visible to viewers. If it can't be seen, than what's the harm right? Well for one it shows a complete lack or respect. You can be that this was not the action of one person sight unseen. You can be that they're were others in the control room who were aware of what was going on. The amazing thing is that those who let this happen didn't think that at least one person in a country of almost 300 million would catch what they were doing.

Just in case you think that this was an accident, lets take a look at CNN's Politics page:

I do not see any explanation. Perhaps they might have one in the morning. As it is I watch Fox on weekend mornings and now I wonder why I have not switched to watching them every morning.

Nobody fired yet? Come on, if this does not rate a firing, what does at CNN? Even if this was an accident, do you really want this guy around? What might his next 'accident' be. He will now be an example to the employees, either as an example of what they can get away wth, or what will happen to them if they expose the station to bad press like this.


UPDATE: 26 November 2005

CNN has since explained that the X was a technical 'glitch.'

Does this mean that sometime soon they will excuse their biased reporting from Iraq as a glitch too?

CNN has been broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week since its inception in 1980. The network is broadcast for 86,400 seconds a day and during the past year, CNN was on the air for 31.536 million seconds. Out of that total, "X’s" appeared for only 2/7 of one second. And both of these times the "X’s" just happened to be superimposed over the face of Dick Cheney. Mysteriously, these glitches never happened when Hillary Clinton or Cindy Sheehan graced the world’s television screens. - CFP

"X" marks the spot - Canada Free Press (CFP)

Friday, November 18

Congress Wants more info but doesn't bother to read what they got already!

How embarrassing. Congress comes out demanding more information on what's going on in Iraq and many Congressmen are claiming that they were misled concerning pre-war intelligence. It is now being reported that only a handful of congressmen and only 6 Senators bothered to ready past an executive summary of a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq. Of course more of them did read the executive summary. Anyone familiar with these types of reports knows that only the most basic points make it into the summary.

So why would they not bother to read the full report? Could it be that they thought that Saddam was guilty? Could it be that they did not have the time to spare? It does not really matter the reason. They didn't think it was important enough.

So why are they asking for more reports to not bother reading?

Was Senator Murtha one of the six who bothered to read the report?

Lawmakers are partly to blame for their ignorance. Congress was entitled to view the 92-page NIE about Iraq before the October 2002 vote. But, as The Washington Post reported last year, no more than six senators and a handful of House members read beyond the five-page executive summary. - Seattle Times

Warning to Republicans
Your success in 2006 is tied directly to the President. So don't bother abandoning the White House like it's a sinking ship. That's not going to win my vote in 06. The public is being bombarded with distorted news from Iraq but they should know better the true situation in-country. They should speak up to correct the distortion. Instead they are being idiots in chasing approval polls, which are distorted to begin with.

Warning to Democrats
Don't take the above to mean that I'm going to vote for you guys. Give me a reason to. I've gone to vote before and left votes blank. Tell me that you were lied to just tells me that you guys are idiots to have been fooled and now that we all know that you were fooled because you didn't/could not read doesn't really encourage me to throw votes in your direction. Remember that there is no shortage of video of Democrats stating how dangerous Saddam was, including many statements made before 2000, which would mean that the Clinton White House must have also been lying...

I dare any Congressman to come out and explain to the public that they understand that their opinion of the war has changed but we made a commitment to do this when they were in favor of it and we just can't cut and run because they're no longer happy. It's not that easy to 'abort' our being in Iraq. Worse, it will prove the terrorists right, that it only takes a couple lives to get us to quite a war. So far, we've been really lucky in Iraq. Remember Beirut, Somalia? To this day more people died during 9/11 than soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. They knocked down a couple buildings and we replaced the management in two countries. Think about that.

Bush defense of decisions on Iraq correct, to a point - Seattle Times
A Little Perspective On Military Deaths - FFI

Thursday, November 17

Sony CD Anti-Copy Software Contains Stolen Code!

How ironic. I bet that there are already people in Sony's head office thinking of hari kari considering the huge backlash they are receiving for selling CD's with malware in it. I first wrote about this here.

To add insult to injury, it turns out that the software on the CD's to prevent you from freely copying the CD actually contains stolen code. That's fitting that they would be caught using stolen software code to prevent others from 'stealing' their music. Of course to 'steal' the music, you first have to buy it. (Sony probably did not know about the stolen code.)

The technology that Sony BMG used to prevent piracy of audio CDs is itself based on stolen code, according to Sebastian Porst and Matti Nikki, two individuals from Germany and Finland respectively who looked into the application. -

I stated earlier that I have not bought Sony products for a long time and recently added Sony CDs to the boycot list. Now I will not purchase any protected CD. Often I am buying the CD for just 1 song and i'll just go find it on the net.

How many people are now working on a CD drive that cloaks itself as a normal CD player to the disk. I think thats not difficult to do. The CD drive would not be able to do anything but play CDs, but at least you could listen to the CD without downloading anything as well as create your own MP3s and not worry about any code that they might put on the CD.

There will always be a way around DRM. Just like the DVD region coding system. $40 got me a program that negates the region code system. Even if the DVD folks figure a way to negate the software, i'll just buy a second DVD drive and tell one that its in Europe and the other that its in the US.

Sony rootkit accused of GPL violation -

Wednesday, November 16

Controlling the Internet - Solution at WSIS Saves Internet from UN

As I pointed out in my original post, Controlling the Internet - The US, ICANN, and the UN, the international community already controls almost 40% of the Internet. But that was not good enough. Some parts of the world (China, Iran, Tunisia, and others) are not satisfied with controlling the Internet within their own country, they want to get control on what the rest of us can post and see. Their plan for doing this was to take the Organization that manages the addresses of the Internet, ICANN, and put the Register of addresses under an organization under UN control.

Take the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. He spoke during the opening of the World Summit on Information Society, WSIS in Tunis:

Addressing delegates at the second phase of the WSIS, Mugabe said the summit is supposed to empower all countries in their development endeavours and engender confidence in internet users outside Europe and North America.

He said this can be done by allowing for a more transparent and multilateral approach to internet governance.

"We challenge the still undemocratic issue of internet governance, where one or two countries insist on being world policemen on the management and administration of the internet," said Mugabe. - Mail and Guardian

Yes President Mugabe, this is why youe Citizens don't have access to the Internet. How about getting an Internet address ending in .zw which is the Internet country code for Zimbabwe? Sorry, your probably out of luck:

Although no registry Web site is shown in the IANA whois listing, at least registrations are presently being taken by the Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association (ZISPA) whose charter claims that one of the purposes of the organization's founding was to oversee the .zw domain. It is unclear who is overseeing registration under other second-level domains or how to register them. - Wikipedia

ZISPA has a note on their website that this was an organization created by ISPs in-country to manage the country's domain. There is another note that the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) had put out a tender for management of the .zw domain. I cannot tell how old the information is but their website appears to be dated, mentioning that there will be updates coming, in 2001 and to check back in September to see their new site. I have to say that their website is much better than that of POTRAZ is a dissappointing 1 page.

It would be one thing if President Mugabe was speaking with a country code domain to be proud of. After all the .zw domain is controlled by zimbabwe, not the US. So I suggest that the President of Zimbabwe first worry about problems at home. Actually, perhaps the best thing for Zimbabwe is to send the president to head some UN post somewhere.

Oh yes, at the summit, they agreed to basically keep management of the Internet as before.

ICANN, for now - OSM

Google Search for .zw websites - Yes there are working .zw sites

Tuesday, November 15

JP Morgan Chase Bank - Underhanded Business Tactics

Years ago I used to work for Chase. It was a nice enough bank and a great job. But it was only a summer job and I then moved away. I thought that would be the last of my interaction with Chase. How wrong I was.

About three years ago I "opted-out" of getting credit card offers by freezing my credit reports. That stopped all of the credit card offers, EXCEPT from Chase. You see, even when you opt-out, a bank can ignore that and that is what Chase did. I did not have any dealings with the bank. I did not even have a bank acocunt with them when I worked there. That alone put me off dealing with Chase.

I did have a credit card with Bank One. That bank was taken over by Chase. On the same week that I get a welcome letter from Chase telling me how things were going to be greater now that Chase owned Bank One I also got a notice that the interest rate on my credit card was being raised from 10% to 18%. I only used the card to get a one-year interest free loan and the year was recently up. I was paying off chunks of what was owed but apparently they figured that I could not pay it off and that they could stick it to me. I called and they claimed that I was too near my credit limit on another card which was why they raised the rate. Within a week I had paid off my Bank One/Chase credit card and closed the account.

Silly me for thinking that I was done dealing with Chase. I then get one of those annoying contract checks in the mail:

Sending me the check was not good enough. Just in case I was not interested in cashing the check, they made it possible for anyone to collect the $20 by also making the check out to BEARER!

So are they going to enroll 'Bearer' automatically into the optional payment protector plan? I suspect not. I think the check was a underhanded attempt to get me (or bearer) to cash the check and by default reopen my credit card account.

My advise is to stay far away from this bank.

Sunday, November 13

DC Housing Bubble: Popped

In August I wrote that the DC Housing bubble was popping. Over the weekend the press ran a couple of stories that there is indeed a problem in the housing market in areas including DC. Here are a couple of pics of places for sale around where we live. Notice that these three have "REDUCED" posted.

This house has been on the market for over six months. There have been a couple of "Open Sundays."

This is a new addition to the market. Almost as if it went on the market at a reduced price.

These are right on Rock Creek Park. Earlier in the year they were going for just under $600,000. The one with the "Price Reduced" is now going for $475,000 and it's the highly coveted corner unit, with greenhouse.

Walking around today there were lots of for sale signs. I had talked with one member of our IT staff. He mentioned that he has a couple of programmer friends that are now stuck with second properties that they are desperate to get rid of but so far have had no luck.

Lynn Edmonds and his wife, Sebnem, could barely wait to sign on the dotted line back in May when they committed themselves to pay $796,000 for a three-floor townhouse under construction in Alexandria's Cameron Station.

But since May, the sales prices for the development have fallen -- and units like the one the Edmonds bought are now being sold for $699,900. The Edmonds are facing the prospect of a $100,000 loss in value before they even walk through the front door. - Washington Post

This whole article is good and includes other sad stories. You can put us in the same catagory as this family:

But many would-be buyers have withdrawn from the real estate market, saying prices are just too high to consider making a purchase. Dan McGrath, an organizer for the Service Employees International Union, and his wife, Teresa, who works at the Environmental Protection Agency, have been married for four months, have a combined income of about $100,000 a year and would ordinarily be good candidates to become first-time homeowners. But the McGraths, who live in the District's Shaw neighborhood, have been shocked and repulsed by the prices for homes in the area, including the $400,000 price on one 800-square-foot studio they visited.

"We can't figure out who -- for the life of us -- would buy a place with two doors for $400,000," said McGrath, 28. "We want to think about a future but homeownership here is just not possible."


Housing Market Cooling, Data Say - Washington Post

DC Housing Bubble Popping - FFI

Long Island Housing Bubble Popping - FFI

Thursday, November 10

Intelligent Design is a Sham

I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I believe in the theory of evolution. I also believe that if there is a God (Belief in God does not guarantee that there is one) then he most surely helped things along their evolutionary path, even to the point of being an Intelligent Designer. However, I have no doubt that Intelligent Design is nothing more than a shame being pushed by those with an ulterior motive centering around a religious agenda.

Those Christians who are pushing intelligent design on the rest of us are actually traitors to their own beliefs. Because Intelligent Design is not Creationism and could even be considered belief against Creationism. At it’s most simple level, in Creationism, God created everything. In Intelligent Design, God gave things a ‘helping hand.’ This diminishes Gods role in the world. Look at the definitions:

Intelligent Design (ID) is the controversial assertion that certain features of the universe and of living things exhibit the characteristics of a product resulting from an
intelligent cause or agent, as opposed to an unguided process such as natural selection. - Wikipedia

Creationism or creation theology is the belief that humans, life, the Earth, and the universe were created by a Supreme Being or deity's supernatural intervention. The intervention may be seen either as an act of creation from nothing or the emergence of order from pre-existing chaos. - Wikipedia

The point where my belief differs from the Intelligent Designer believers it that I believe that any assistance that God (lets face it, that is who they will tell us the intelligent designer is) gave in regards to creating life on Earth falls within the Theory of Evolution.

Looking at the two definitions above, a religious person who subscribes to the belief of Intelligent Design, is actually giving up a good portion of Creationism. A person like myself can believe in the principle of Creation and see the possibility of it falling in line with the Theory of Evolution.

The funny thing about Intelligent Design is that there is so much out there about the World that can be used to question the theory. Like why did the Designer include the negative effects of cancer, viruses, germs, disease and natural poisons in the Grand Design? Why did the Designer include earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, typhoons, plagues, droughts, and floods into the Grand Design? Why would the designer include zebras yet forget to include unicorns and jackolopes? Why would the designer punish the holy lands with a shortage of food and water and bless those areas of the world where the smallest percentage of people believe in him? Why would the Designer allow three religions that believe in him, but constantly fight with each other? Why would the designer punish Africa to a perpetual third-world status and punish Europe with centuries of war yet shine on the United States as if it’s been blessed? If there was an Intelligent Designer, why did he leave the world half-done? Looking at the results from a distance, you’d think that the designer was on drugs with all the loose ends that he left behind.

Humans are a pretty resilient people and can adapt to the most severe situation. That’s why you can find people living in most every corner of the planet, good and bad, hot and cold. One of those places is Dover, Pennsylvania where they just held a school board election. The funny thing about elections is that sometimes they can show how intelligent people can be. In Dover, PA, the residents decided to vote out the entire school board that was in favor of teaching intelligent design in science class and replacing them with those who thought science class was best left to teaching Evolution, leaving Intelligent Design for religion class.

The school board officials who were voted out were all Republicans, being replaced by all Democrats and that’s fine with me. You see, the Republics were tampering with education, and that’s just plain wrong. Someone should tell that to Pat Robertson, who just told the residents of Dover, not to bother calling God the next time disaster strikes, because they just “rejected him from your city.” No Reverend, they just rejected religion from the science class. Just like I can believe in God, but not in Pat Robertson. The Good Reverend through his outburst gives us all a view of the Religious agenda of Intelligent Design.

Just imagine if the Intelligent Designers win, then we can all argue on who the Designer(s) was(were.) My vote is for Mother Nature.

Evolution - Wikipedia
Televangelist warns of evolution doomsday - MSNBC

Saturday, November 5

Fred Fry on Radio Free Finland

This Sunday I'll be on Radio Free Finland chatting with Phil, the host, an American living in Finland. In his spare time he maintains 'Finland for Thought' a blog covering "Politics, current events, culture - In Finland & United States."

Fred Fry International is not as well defined a Blog. It was started for no reason other than to post my thoughts and theories on whatever crossed my mind. The topics covered on FFI range from Conspiracy, Appreciation, Elections, Allah, the Almighty Dollar, Sean Penn, the Soviet Union, Taiwan as well as an occassional post about Finland.

I am not a Finn. I was born in Jersey City, NJ and grew up on Long Island. I met my first Finns in Dubai on New Years Eve 94-95. (Crew from a Finnair flight.) Later, I ended up going to the the Helsinki School of Economics MBA program, which was my main connection to Finland. I lived there from December 1997 to April 2000. I am now married to a Finn and we make it back when we can. The last trip was in May, and the next one for Christmas.

So what is the best thing about Finland?

The pig donut:

Fred concerning politics:

Not that I believe in these online tests, but they can sometimes be most amusing. I am not a member of the Republican Party, nor any party for that matter. Be interesting to see if Phil's eval would put him in the Libertarial portion of the grid. So one more eval, on which leading man would I be:

John Wayne
You scored 61% Tough, 14% Roguish, 14% Friendly, and 9% Charming!

You, my friend, are a man's man, the original true grit, one tough talking, swaggering son of a bitch. You're not a bad guy, on the contrary, you're the ultimate good guy, but you're one tough character, rough and tumble, ready for anything. You call the shots and go your own way, and if some screwy dame is willing to accept your terms, that's just fine by you. Otherwise, you'll just hit the open trail and stay true to yourself. You stand up for what you believe and can handle any situation, usually by rushing into the thick of the action. You're not polished and you're not overly warm, but you're a straight shooter and a real stand up guy. Co-stars include Lauren Bacall and Maureen O'Hara, tough broads who can take care of themselves.

Find out what kind of classic dame you'd make by taking the
Classic Dames Test.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 98% on Tough
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 39% on Roguish
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 20% on Friendly
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 5% on Charming
Link: The Classic Leading Man Test written by gidgetgoes on Ok Cupid
I scored higher than 98% in my age-group on tough. The real men must have been too busy to have taken the test.

Wednesday, November 2

Ramadan and Islamic Oddities

Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. One thing that Muslims observe is fasting each day. So what happens if you happen to be in a Muslim country during Ramadan? Below find a copy of a notice issued by a hotel for this year's Ramadan Holiday:

(Click to enlarge)

Find anything strange about this notice? Isn't it strange that there will still be a buffet each day and that you can get breakfast, lunch, dinner and alcohol? But if you are a Muslim, they will not serve alcohol to you, during Ramadan. During the rest of the year, they will gladly serve to Muslims. Sounds pretty tolerant to me.

It is taboo to use your left hand in Muslim cultures. Hell, it was (is?) taboo in the US too. When I was small, my father tried relentlessly to force me to use my right hand, fearing that I would have problems in society if I grew up left-handed. However, I turned out to be much more forceful in using my left hand. (My brother went through the same 'torture' and now uses both hands.)

I was aware of the left-hand taboo when I was traveling in the region. It caused me a little concern, but once I was there I had used my left hand so often by accident that I quickly gave up attempting to use my right hand. If I happened to offend anyone in the process, so be it. Anyway, the shopkeepers had no problem taking money from my left hand. So taking a look around the Internet, I can see that there are left-handed Muslims. Wondering how they are treated, I found a good degree of tolerance for these left-handed people. Although the 'Ask the Imam' website forbids even left-handed people from using their left hand for eating. This is ridiculous. But I did find this question and answer from another Imam which I think is a great read for all left-handed people:

Q325 :I am a 12 year old student, and I am left-handed. People have often reminded me not to eat or write with my left hand, because people who do so will not go to heaven; they will go to hell. I have tried to use my right hand for eating and writing, but I always feel that my right hand is weaker. I will be grateful for your advice.

A325 : Let me tell you straight away that no one will go to hell for using his left hand for eating, drinking, writing or indeed for any other purpose. Any one who suggests otherwise does not know and makes a huge assumption which he cannot substantiate. Indeed such a person betrays a degree of ignorance of God, His compassion and fairness.

What we have to remember is that God knows every aspect of a person's abilities, motives and intentions. A left handed person does not choose to make his right hand the weaker hand. This is something that he is created with and cannot change just like [he cannot change] the color of his [skin,] eyes or his hair. So God will not ask anyone why he is left-handed, because it is He who has created him. Besides, using one's right hand for eating and most other purposes is recommended, or a sunnah. This means that it is not obligatory. On the Day of Judgment, God will not ask any person why that person has not done something that is not obligatory. Nor will he punish anyone for not doing such a non-obligatory matter. He will look at what recommended practices we do in this life and reward us for them. But He will not punish us for omitting any of them.

In the question of which hand to use for eating, God will reward those of us using their right hands only if they choose to do so in response to the Prophet's recommendations or to follow his example. In other words, His reward is not for the action itself but for intention behind the action. Hence, if a left-handed person trains himself patiently to eat and drink with his right hand until this becomes quite easy for him, and he does all that in order to follow the Prophet's example, he is sure to earn more reward than a person who does the same but does not have the added difficulty of being left-handed. I know some people who have done that. Their action is certainly commendable. The habit they acquired has become natural to them to the extent that they do practically everything with their left hands but when they eat they use their right hands. Perhaps you could do likewise and be patient until it comes naturally to you. You only need to be patient with yourself. But if you find it too difficult, then you should not bother about what people may say. You just explain that this is a natural difficulty and that it is God who created you so.

This last weekend I had went walking downtown and by the White House there was a group of Muslims. One of them was carrying a Koran, in his left hand.

One of the more amusing things that I learned about Islam while I was there was that Allah has 'blind-spots.' In other words Allah is not all-knowing, all-seeing.

Some Muslim shipyard workers come onboard the ship and immediately they pull out their cigarettes (during Ramadan.) I tell them that they are not allowed to smoke. Their reply was interesting to say the least "No, is o.k. Allah is not here." I then not so politely pointed out the huge "NO SMOKING" sign in huge red capital letters painted above his head. This was in Dubai. (They were most depressed.)

I wonder, if Allah cannot see what is going on an American-Flag ship, would he not see what is happening in America itself? In the Seaman's Mission in Dubai, they had a book at the entrance where Muslims signed before entering acknowledging that alcohol is served inside the mission; that they are Muslims, and that Muslims do not consume alcohol.

This brings me to the Island-State of Bahrain. It is connected to Saudi Arabia by a bridge. Allah does not see past the bridge. On Bahrain, Muslims, mainly from Saudi Arabia, can pretty much do whatever they want. Smoke, drink, whatever. I was in an Irish bar, and in the room next door, there were a bunch of Saudi men, all dressed in white, sitting in Laz-e-Boys with water pipes next to each chair. They were smoking and drinking and watching two scantily-clad women from the UK dancing on a stage. I bet that Allah would not approve. My boss has told me that Allah cannot see what goes on inside hotels either. Come to think of it, that can be a pretty handy character of a God.

So if Allah can be tolerant for left-handedness, and turn a blind eye at certain times, what about pigs and pork? We all can see how the UK is handling the pig issue. Not only are real pigs bad, but even images of pigs, and cartoon pigs of all things. Banks are tossing piggy banks as part of this pig purge. But then we have Michael Totten's 'Middle East Journal' where he clearly illustrates the position of pigs in the Middles East.

Look. I’m in Lebanon. Somewhere around 35 or 40 percent of the people who live here are Christian. Except for around 60 Jews, the rest are Muslims. This is a Muslim-majority country. Muslims outnumber Christians approximately two to one. And yet pork – pork – is all over this place. I had a pizza for lunch today. My pizza had ham on it. Not fake halal “ham,” but actual pig meat. The restaurant that served me this pizza is on the Muslim side of the city. - MJT

So apparently pork is not a problem. Sounds like Muslims can be a really tolerant bunch. There is evidence even here of this. Sometimes when I go food shopping, there is Muslim woman at the checkout (wearing a hijab) and she handles my pork products just like all the others. Am I disrespecting her religion by bringing pork to her? Apparently not. I would even bet that there are Muslims who are fans of Piglet, and apparently some Muslims do eat pork. (How about a nice hotdog?)

So it appears that the West's efforts to wipe pigs off the face of the Earth is of no importance to Muslims, then what can we do to make Muslims happy? What matters to them?

I understand that the President of Iran knows what he wants. Of course the rest of the world is not going to give it to him. Might he be willing to solve this problem himself? Should we do something about this, or just write it off to cultural differences?

Left-handedness - Islam City

Piggy banks 'offend UK Muslims' - The Age, Australia

Who’s Afraid of the Pig? - Michael J. Totten

Sony CDs and Spyware

There has been a number of attempts to make CDs copyproof. So far without success. the most well known failure needed only a black magic marker to defeat. Now Sony has resorted to a new tactic to prevent your computer from copying their music, spyware.

This spyware does not sneak into your computer through the internet, it is hidden in the CD waiting for you to place it into your computer's CD drive. To be 'fair' to Sony, there is a prompt stating that the CD will install a small program that will remain in the computer until removed or deleted. the joke is that if you try to delete it, there is a good chance that you'll end up disabling your CD drive.

Privacy and security experts charged that the technology built into many of Sony's music CDs since March is unnecessarily invasive and exposes users to threats from hackers and virus writers.

"Here you have one of the biggest name-brand corporations on the planet getting into what many people in other circumstances would consider hacking," said Richard Smith, a security and privacy consultant based in Boston. "That's just not acceptable." - Washington Post

Did I mention that the software the CD installs can be used by hackers to hijack your computer? Read the following entry which goes into detail what this 'small program' does to your computer and how impossible it is for normal people to remove the software once it's been installed.

Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Management Gone Too Far - Mark Russinovich

But don't worry, there is a way to get the program off your computer:

But according to Mikko Hypponen, director of research for Finnish antivirus company F-Secure Corp., users who want to remove the program may not do so directly, but must fill out a form on Sony's Web site, download additional software, wait for a phone call from a technical support specialist, and then download and install yet another program that removes the files.

I suggest you fill out the form and get your computer cleaned. After all, if you have no clue that this is operating on your computer, you never be sure that it is the reason it is acting strange. Oh, if you can't find the form mentioned above, you can find it here or the Uninstall request here.

It was only a week or two ago that I read that there are also copy protection issues with Sony's Playstation and PSP. Apparently Sony uses region coding in the PSP so that only games purchased in the same region as the Playstation will work. So if you happen to buy the playstation in the US and move to Australia, the games sold in Australia will not work in your Playstation. I have been told that the games have yet to be coded by region, yet.

Whatever damage this software might be doing to computers, it probably is nothing compared to the damage to Sony's reputation. So now in addition to not buying Sony electronics, now I need to avoid their CDs too. Not that I play CDs in my computer now, but I might want to in the future.

Study of Sony Anti-Piracy Software Triggers Uproar - Washington Post

Read here for my comments on Sony Stupidity concerning their new DVD standard:

Those who cannot learn, Prologue: SONY Blue-Ray DVD Stupidity - FFI

Tuesday, November 1

Controlling the Internet - The US, ICANN, and the UN

Unless you have been living in a cave, you already know that the member states of the UN are planning to takeover governance of the Internet. Currently there is a Corporation in California, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is responsible for managing the domain registry of the Internet.

Note that ICANN control does not extend to other countries “Country-Code Top Level Domain.” (ccTLD.) These are the Internet addresses that end with the country code of a specific country. An example would be ‘.uk’ for internet addresses using the United Kingdom’s ccTLD. So registration of Internet addresses ending in .uk are overseen by the UK and not the California Company nor the US Government. Each country has it’s own Internet country code. Approximately 38% of all websites on the Internet have a non-US ccTLD. So already 38% of the Internet is controlled by the member states of the International Community.

Some countries take responsibility for control to a higher degree than others. It is well known that China, as well as some other countries filter what their citizens can access on the Internet in addition to managing the registration of websites. Now these countries want to manage the part of the Internet not under their direct control, namely those websites that end in .com. (Like

This is not the first time that the global community was concerned about US control of new technology that it developed that turned out to become very useful globally. Take the Global Positioning System (GPS.) GPS was developed and is operated by the US Military. It is now used globally for any number of purposes by users, including myself, who pay no fee to use the system. In essence, a gift to anyone willing to take advantage of it. In the past, the free signal was not as good as the signal that was available to the military, but now everyone has access to the same data. (I never noticed a difference in the quality of the data.)

However, as the GPS system is controlled and paid for by the US Government, there is always the risk that the system might be turned off for non-military users leaving them ‘lost’ for lack of a better word. We’ll forget that this has never happened, but it remain a threat to those who depend on the service.

Did the global community attempt a takeover of the system? Did they demand that the UN take over governance of GPS? No. The EU decided to develop and pay for their own system, which would not be controlled by the US. The EU and US have even cooperated concerning the EU’s Galileo positioning system. In addition, the project has received funding from non-EU countries such as China, Israel, and India. Galileo is expected to come online in 2008. By then there should be GPS receivers that will use signals from both systems. Sounds like a perfect solution, and we end up with two global positioning systems.

So, why the controversy over control of the Internet? Just like GPS, it was the US that invented the Internet and paid for a good bit of its development. Is the UN offering to pay for what they are planning on taking? Not likely. I have seen comments elsewhere that this might be an evil plan to tax the Internet through the taxing of each domain name. I don’t think so. They have other issues they want to tackle first. I suspect that they really want to go after all of the sites that show their country, and the UN, in a bad light. You see, you cannot get a press pass to access the UN if you don’t believe in the UN:

“The Department of Public Information reserves the right to deny or withdraw accreditation of journalists from media organizations whose activities run counter to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, or who abuse the privileges so extended or put the accreditation to improper use or act in a way not consistent with the principles of the Organization.” - UN

So if the UN cannot even accept dissenting viewpoints from the media, how do you think they will accept dissenting views on the Internet? If President Bush’s White House acted this way, most of the White House Press Corp would have had their WH press passes withdrawn years ago.

There is no limit to the amount of tampering that the international community could inflict on the Internet. The UN and countries might claim that a domain name cannot contain the name of their country (or UN) unless it meets some quality standard or pay a special fee. Crazy suggestion? Well the European Court just decided that cheese can only be called Feta if it is made in a certain part of Greece. Likewise, Champagne can only come from a region in France. Don’t tell that to “Great Western,” makers of New York Champagne. Thankfully NY is not part of the EU and they can call it New York Champagne if they want to. Think you can have Helsinki Feta? sure you can, but only if you make it in Greece. It does not matter if you are a Greek cheese maker. Do these items truly taste unique to a specific region? Perhaps, but different brands will taste differently so the place issue is nothing more than an attempt to brand a commodity and then protect the brand.

Now lets apply this logic to websites. The Iranian Government gets no benefit from all of the dissident sites located around the world, especially when they are more than ready to second guess the new President on items such as how to fix the decline in their stock market. They would shut all these sites down if they could. (God only knows what they would do to those who operated the sites.) However, at the moment, all they can do is try to prevent those from inside Iran from viewing these sites. The same goes for China. Thankfully these countries currently cannot prevent anyone outside their borders from viewing these sites.

One of their arguments for UN control of the Internet is very similar to the GPS argument for a separate system; The US controls access to the Internet and they can shut them out at any time. Of course there is no reason for the US to do this. The US would probably buy every Iranian household a computer and give them free Internet access if it would give Iranians access to the Internet not filtered by the mullahs.

Internet users do not seem to be so crazy about rocking the boat. One reason is that they are afraid that countries, in addition to denying access to their sites, is that they might redirect traffic to other sites setup by them. This is done by changing the addresses in the routers of where the website is located. These routers currently get their information from ICANN.

Somebody has to control the list of internet address names. Letting the UN take control of this service is an invitation to disaster. If these countries are so concerned about being shut out, they could just build their own Internet. Even if the US can shut them out, it would have no effect on the Internet within their country. If your domestic Internet sucks, well who is to blame there?

Finally, there is one other area where the US has ultimate control over an area of International interest and has the possibility to fully cripple the operation of the UN. That is in the role as the issuer of Visas to the US. That includes all the diplomats and world leaders going to the UN. It was suggested that the New President of Iran should be denied a visa as some suspect him of being involved in the Embassy hostage crisis of the 70’s. In the end, President Ahmadinejad did get a visa and was permitted to attend meeting at the UN. But how humiliating it must have been to ask the United States for permission to go to the meetings. Even Castro manages to obtain a visa to attend UN functions. But come on. None of this is about the way the US is acting, it is all about the fact that they could if they wanted too, and that is what is the issue. But for some reason, there is no concerted effort to wrest Visa control from the US. That might change the next time President Ahmadinejad asks for a visa.

Keep your U.N. off my Internet. – Opinion Journal
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) – UN
Workshop on Internet Governance - ITU (Chairman’s Report, PDF Document)


Galileo European Satellite Navigation System - EU
Galileo positioning system - Wikipedia