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Big Brother and 1984 meet at Mount Holly The future, as the novelist William Gibson observed, 'is already here - it's just not evenly distributed'. One place where it might be found is Mount Holly, Berkeley County, South Carolina. I've just flown over it (courtesy of Google Earth), and you'd never think it was a place where our destiny lies. The terrain is flat and wooded and includes some magnolia plantations. There's a highway and what looks like a railway line (the image resolution isn't great). The nearest town is Goose Creek, a settlement of 30,000 souls.
So why is this obscure spot a pivot of the universe? Because Google is to locate one of its server farms there. The decision was announced at a pork barbecue held on 6 April for 300 dignitaries. Google executives gave a short presentation, announced a $407,000 donation to the community and invited questions. The idea that these might require answers did not occur to the Googlers, but that is the Company Way.
For example, one question concerned the plant's consumption of electricity and water. (Server farms require massive quantities of the former, and a good deal of the latter for cooling purposes.) 'No comment,' was the response, later expanded by Rhett Weiss, Google's head of strategic development to: 'We're in a highly competitive industry and, frankly, one or two little pieces of information like that in the hands of our competitors can do us considerable damage.' (London Guardian)
Researchers explore scrapping Internet: 'It's sort of a miracle that it continues to work well today' Although it has already taken nearly four decades to get this far in building the Internet, some university researchers with the federal government's blessing want to scrap all that and start over.
The idea may seem unthinkable, even absurd, but many believe a "clean slate" approach is the only way to truly address security, mobility and other challenges that have cropped up since UCLA professor Leonard Kleinrock helped supervise the first exchange of meaningless test data between two machines on Sept. 2, 1969.
The Internet "works well in many situations but was designed for completely different assumptions," said Dipankar Raychaudhuri, a Rutgers University professor overseeing three clean-slate projects. "It's sort of a miracle that it continues to work well today." - A new network could run parallel with the current Internet and eventually replace it, or perhaps aspects of the research could go into a major overhaul of the existing architecture.
These clean-slate efforts are still in their early stages, though, and aren't expected to bear fruit for another 10 or 15 years — assuming Congress comes through with funding.
Guru Parulkar, who will become executive director of Stanford's initiative after heading NSF's clean-slate programs, estimated that GENI alone could cost $350 million, while government, university and industry spending on the individual projects could collectively reach $300 million. Spending so far has been in the tens of millions of dollars. (Associated Press)
Fancy x-rays are no substitute for real security nudity is beside the point. Critics who focus on "my body, my body image" arguments are being diverted by false modesty from the real issues at hand: Are the machines are safe, and will they be more effective than our current system? (Dvice)
U.S. to Suffer Losses Upon Attacking Iran -- Russian General According to the head of Moscow’s air defenses, General Yuri Solovyov, Iran’s air defense system is strong and the United States will suffer losses if they attack this Middle Eastern country. Solovyev conceded that the U.S. military greatly outweighs the Iranian one and that eventually that would ensure America’s air supremacy.
“Iran’s weapons, among others, include our anti-aircraft systems which allow them to fight all types of flying objects currently in service in the U.S. army ... Besides, we all remember our specialists have trained them since Soviet times,” Solovyov was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency. (MosNews)
Virtual strip searches for all? The output of the backscatter scanner is quite detailed, and graphically so. There's no doubt that a man is a man. You could probably determine his religion. The director of the TSA's security lab volunteered to have her image scanned, and you can tell what type of underwear she's wearing, just from where it pinches her belly. (Dvice)
ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources tell ABC News.
The group, called Jundullah, is made up of members of the Baluchi tribe and operates out of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan, just across the border from Iran.
It has taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of more than a dozen Iranian soldiers and officials. - The Iranian TV broadcast is interspersed with the logo of the CIA, which the broadcast blamed for the plot.
A CIA spokesperson said "the account of alleged CIA action is false" and reiterated that the U.S. provides no funding of the Jundullah group.
Pakistani government sources say the secret campaign against Iran by Jundullah was on the agenda when Vice President Dick Cheney met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in February.
A senior U.S. government official said groups such as Jundullah have been helpful in tracking al Qaeda figures and that it was appropriate for the U.S. to deal with such groups in that context.
Some former CIA officers say the arrangement is reminiscent of how the U.S. government used proxy armies, funded by other countries including Saudi Arabia, to destabilize the government of Nicaragua in the 1980s. (ABC)
Airport x-ray searches — they'll see your panties in a wad As is usually the case, the truth is more complicated and, unfortunately, less spicy than the screaming tabloid headlines. To begin with, the scanner is simply an option to the even more invasive and embarrassing physical pat-down. Second, a specially trained screener is sequestered in a closed booth, away from the leering crowd, and images are immediately trashed. Third, x-ray radiation absorbed from the scanners is equal to the amount you'd get in 2 minutes at 30,000 feet. And finally, panties, wadded or not, wouldn't show up on the x-ray. "Privacy" software blurs curves and other revealing bulges, leaving only bones and illicit materials on view. (Dvice)
The War on Iran The US has completed major military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf within a short distance of Iranian territorial waters. This naval deployment is meant to "send a warning to Tehran" following the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747, which imposes major economic sanctions on Iran in retaliation for its non-compliance with US demands regarding its uranium enrichment program.
The US war games off the Iranian coastline involved the participation of two aircraft carriers, the USS John Stennis carrier group and the USS Eisenhower with some 10,000 navy personnel and more than 100 warplanes. The USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier group, which is part of the US Fifth Fleet, entered the Persian Gulf on March 27, escorted by guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54). (Global Research)
Latest security devices reveal much about air travellers In Phoenix, they haven't just put the monitors in a separate room. They're laying cables to put them in an entirely different terminal. Likewise, the officer who sees you in the flesh never sees you on the monitor. It's like the blind men and the elephant: Nobody has the whole picture. (The Record)
Globalists Gather in Brussels When the TC called on the United States to increase gas taxes by 10 cents at a meeting in Tokyo in 1991, The Washington Post, which is always represented at TC and Bilderberg meetings, called for such an increase in an editorial the following day (American Free Press)
9/11 remains possibly used on roads: court papers Debris that may have contained bits of bone from victims of the World Trade Center attacks was used to fill potholes and pave city roads, according to court papers filed on Friday. - Beck said he saw sanitation workers removing small pieces of debris containing possible bone fragments and loading them "onto tractors, and using it to pave roads and fill in potholes, dips and ruts." (Reuters)
New driver's license OK'd for border: Gregoire signs test program to allow non-passport travel The state's upcoming alternative "enhanced" driver's license -- which Washington residents will be able to use for crossing the Canadian border in lieu of a passport -- is necessary to boost security while preserving the cross-border flow of trade and tourism, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Friday.
The law, signed by Gregoire Friday, launches a pilot program agreed upon between the state and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, whose Secretary Michael Chertoff said that at least one other state has expressed interest in following Washington's lead.
Citing the $35 million in goods flowing both ways daily through the U.S.-Canadian border crossing at Blaine, Gregoire said the law will help Washington keep the benefits expected to spill south from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. (Seattle PI)
Outrage over Japan nuclear reactor coverup A Japanese power company admitted on Thursday that it had covered up a 1999 incident in which mishandling of nuclear fuel rods led to an unintended self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction for 15 minutes.
Anti-nuclear activists expressed outrage over Hokuriku Electric Power Co.'s failure to report the accident, although the company said the mishap was relatively minor.
The news of the 15-minute "criticality" -- an unintended self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction -- is likely to further dent public confidence in Japan's nuclear power industry, already undermined by safety scandals over the past decade.
An official with Hokuriku's nuclear team admitted the company had not reported the incident, which took place during a test while the unit was offline for a planned inspection. (Reuters)
Taxing Us for Breathing Last week, the New York Times published an extraordinary editorial complaining that "Right now, everyone is using the atmosphere like a municipal dump, depositing carbon dioxide free." The Times editors suggested that the government "start charging for the privilege" by imposing a "carbon tax." - What would you say if someone told you that he was concerned you might get sick because it's hot and humid out--and then told you that his "cure" was to constrict your supply of oxygen by 80%? Would you believe that he was sincerely concerned with your health? Well, you had better start asking the same question of Al Gore and the rest of the global warming fanatics, because that's exactly what they're trying to do. In denouncing fossil fuels, they are seeking to tax, reduce, and ultimately to eliminate the fuels that provide our civilization with 80% of its energy. Their goal is a fatal constriction of the process of industrial respiration.
That is the deepest, fullest reason why a "carbon tax" is just as dangerous as a tax on breathing.
If we really care about the biological health of human civilization, we need to guard it against the environmentalist charlatans who are seeking to suffocate the real lungs of the earth. (Real Clear Politics)
Homeland Security revives supersnoop Homeland Security officials are testing a supersnoop computer system that sifts through personal information on U.S. citizens to detect possible terrorist attacks, prompting concerns from lawmakers who have called for investigations.
The system uses the same data-mining process that was developed by the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness (TIA) project that was banned by Congress in 2003 because of vast privacy violations.
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation of the project called ADVISE -- Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement -- was requested by Rep. David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
The investigation focuses on whether the program violates privacy laws, and the findings will be released after completion of the Iraq war supplemental spending bill, possibly as early as this week, a panel aide said. (Washington Times)
Feds Seek To Gag D.C. Madam: Prosecutors fear leak of sensitive client, escort information Federal prosecutors want to gag an indicted former Washington, D.C. madam who has recently threatened to go public with details about her former customers. In a motion filed Monday in U.S. District Court, investigators are seeking a protective order covering discovery material to be provided to Deborah Palfrey and her lawyers. Palfrey, 50, was indicted last week on racketeering and money laundering charges stemming from her operation of the Pamela Martin & Associates escort service, which closed last summer after 13 years in business. In their motion, a copy of which you'll find below, government lawyers claim that some discovery documents contain 'personal information' about Palfrey's former johns and prostitutes that is 'sensitive.' (The Smoking Gun)
The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism? by Seymour M. Hersh - A STRATEGIC SHIFT - In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda. (The New Yorker)
Naked Came The Passenger When American Science and Engineering, which makes the backscatter machines, introduced the technology in prisons nine years ago, the point was to replace strip searches. (Washington Post)
Texans fear US sovereignty will disappear down superhighway If it were built, the road would be one of the engineering wonders of the 21st century -a trade route a quarter of a mile wide, carving a path from Mexico through the heart of America to Canada.
In its most radical form, it would allow lorry drivers to travel hundreds of miles from the Mexican border deep into the US before reaching customs and immigration controls in Kansas. (London Telegraph)
Part of the conspiracy? We no longer have the original tapes of our 9/11 coverage (for reasons of cock-up, not conspiracy). So if someone has got a recording of our output, I'd love to get hold of it. We do have the tapes for our sister channel News 24, but they don't help clear up the issue one way or another. (BBC)
The Truth About Coal Dressed in top hats, carrying bags of coal and calling themselves ''Billionaires for Coal,'' the group was protesting what it felt was the hypocrisy of a giant investment bank that proclaims a devout commitment to ''environmental excellence'' even as it provides financing for dirty power plants - There are at least two points to be made here. One, obviously, is there is a difference between talk and reality. Much of corporate America now appears to be out in front of the Bush administration in facing up to global warming. Some big players like Pacific Gas and Electric and DuPont seem seriously committed to mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions -- in sharp contrast to the administration's voluntary approach.
Others, notably big investment banks, are still doing what comes naturally: seizing opportunities, whether or not those opportunities fit their green posturing. TXU can fairly claim that its plants, outfitted with the latest technology, will emit fewer pollutants that cause smog and acid rain than the clunkers that have been around for 50 years. But these plants will still be using the same basic technology -- burning coal, with no ability to capture and dispose of immense amounts of carbon dioxide. That's distressing from a global warming perspective. It is also distressing because cleaner, if costlier, technologies are available that could capture greenhouse gases before they enter the atmosphere (that is, if TXU or the private equity group that is negotiating to buy the utility were willing to make the investment).
Which leads to the second point: There is a need to put a price on carbon to force companies to abandon older, dirtier technologies for newer, cleaner ones. Right now, everyone is using the atmosphere like a municipal dump, depositing carbon dioxide free. Start charging for the privilege and people will find smarter ways to do business. A carbon tax is one approach. Another is to impose a steadily decreasing cap on emissions and let individual companies figure out ways to stay below the cap. (New York Times)
With full-body X-ray, a closer look at air travelers PHOENIX Most passengers asked to submit to a full-body X-ray at Security Checkpoint B didn't bat an eyelash. Nine in 10 gamely stepped up to a scanner about the size of a vending machine, placed their feet on the red footprints painted on the carpet, and raised their arms – all in the name of airport security. (Christian Science Monitor)
Airport testing X-ray scanner Critics have said the high-resolution images created by the "backscatter" technology are too invasive. But the Transportation Security Administration adjusted the equipment to make the image look something like a line drawing, while still detecting concealed weapons. (Deseret News)
North American Leaders Discuss Security Promoting prosperity topped the agenda at a gathering of U.S., Canadian and Mexican Cabinet leaders Friday, but immigration and the threat of terrorism also were key topics at the gathering.
Nine foreign and security ministers from the North American nations met in Ottawa, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
The Security and Prosperity Partnership talks were a lead-up to a meeting of the countries' leaders this August in Canada. (Associated Press)
Officials play down criticism that talks too secretive Top North American ministers deflected criticism that they had consulted only big business for their talks on trade and security rules, suggesting Friday there are "different venues" for public interest and labour groups to raise their concerns and suggestions.
The Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) is an ongoing dialogue between Canada, the United States and Mexico to find more common ground on issues ranging from border security to emergency preparedness. The group has an arm of business leaders that provides myriad recommendations, but has no formal mechanism for consulting the public at large.
"That type of thing happens in different venues in a host of other occasions, and we're pleased to note that as we work together on the issues we discussed today then the quality of life of all our citizens improves," Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day told reporters at the close of day-long meetings.
Day was flanked by his counterparts from Mexico and the United States, along with trade ministers from the three countries. The star attraction of the meetings was U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who appeared at a final news conference with Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay and Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa. (CANOE)
Czech President Calls Man-Made Global Warming a Myth, Questions Al Gore’s Sanity "Global warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so. It is not fair to refer to the U.N. panel. IPCC is not a scientific institution: it's a political body, a sort of non-government organization of green flavor. It's neither a forum of neutral scientists nor a balanced group of scientists. These people are politicized scientists who arrive there with a one-sided opinion and a one-sided assignment." (News Busters)
NYPD officer Craig Bartmer stated that he clearly heard bombs tear down Building 7 "The whole time you're hearing boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I think I know an explosion when I hear it" - BARTMER: "If the means and the motive are they where would they pull it off from? The Office of Emergency Management was in Building 7. That was a hardened bunker built to withstand just about anything that New York would face. That building had a lot of important shit in it and there was enough stuff in that building to bury evidence on other fronts - financial records, government records. There's no way that that just fell down on its own, I don't believe it." (Prison Planet)
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