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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 01/23/2011 - 01/30/2011
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hosni Mubarak finally responds to his fellow Egyptians

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Freedom to access the internet

robert gibbs, presidential press secretary...
We believe in the basket of individual freedoms includes the freedom to access the Internet and the freedom to use social networking sites.

this is a statement that should be engraved and perhaps even considered as an addendum to the bill of rights... and it came from a totally unexpected source...

(h/t to marcy who concluded with the following comment...)
Gibbs did not say (and none of the reporters asked) whether this includes access to the Wikileaks site. Or whether it includes access to the Internet at broadband speeds.


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Friday, January 28, 2011

Now we hear the internet's down in Syria [UPDATE]

oh, my... things are really moving FAST...!

On the same day that Egypt has suspended online activity, Syria has also blocked internet service, according to reports.

Syria is known for a tight control of the internet, which was tightened further after the unrest in Tunisia, reports Reuters. Now, Al Arabiya is reporting that internet services have gone down completely in the country. Previously, Syria had blocked programs that "allow access to Facebook Chat from cellphones," according to Reuters.

things are going so fast, it's hard to keep up...


according to a tweet from jeremy scahill, reports that syria's internet is down are false...

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Narus, Israeli-founded and now Boeing-owned, rears its ugly head in Egypt

aha... and why are we not surprised...?

timothy karr via the huffpost on narus...

Telecom Egypt, the nation's dominant phone and Internet service provider, is a state-run enterprise, which made it easy on Friday morning for authorities to pull the plug and plunge much of the nation into digital darkness.

Moreover, Egypt also has the ability to spy on Internet and cell phone users, by opening their communication packets and reading their contents. Iran used similar methods during the 2009 unrest to track, imprison and in some cases, "disappear" truckloads of cyber-dissidents.

The companies that profit from sales of this technology need to be held to a higher standard. One in particular is an American firm, Narus of Sunnyvale, Calif., which has sold Telecom Egypt "real-time traffic intelligence" equipment.

Narus, now owned by Boeing, was founded in 1997 by Israeli security experts to create and sell mass surveillance systems for governments and large corporate clients.

The company is best known for creating NarusInsight, a supercomputer system which is allegedly used by the National Security Agency and other entities to perform mass surveillance and monitoring of public and corporate Internet communications in real time.

Narus provides Egypt Telecom with Deep Packet Inspection equipment (DPI), a content-filtering technology that allows network managers to inspect, track and target content from users of the Internet and mobile phones, as it passes through routers on the information superhighway.

Other Narus global customers include the national telecommunications authorities in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia -- two countries that regularly register alongside Egypt near the bottom of Human Rights Watch's world report.

i started posting on narus in 2007 (see my posts here)... it's one of the companies to be most feared in domestic surveillance and, now that it's owned by boeing, means that its power has increased exponentially...

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Egypt update: several of the policemen stripped off their uniforms and badges and joined the demonstrators

not lookin' good for mubarak...
In one of many astonishing scenes Friday, thousands of anti-government protesters wielding rocks, glass and sticks chased hundreds of riot police away from the main square in downtown Cairo and several of the policemen stripped off their uniforms and badges and joined the demonstrators.

if mubarak, certainly one of the strongest of the middle east strongmen, goes down, look out... yemen, algeria, morocco, syria, jordan, saudi arabia, the uae, iran, kuwait, and - dare i say it - even iraq, are sitting ducks... in fact, any country with a corrupt and repressive leader at the helm (think karzai) is going to be seriously vulnerable...

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This makes me so very sad

An injured woman is escorted out of the supermarket in Kabul,
Afghanistan, where a suicide bomber killed several people.

Photograph: Rahmat Gul/AP

i've shopped at this supermarket a number of times... it's right next door to a most pleasant restaurant where i've had several most enjoyable meals in a lovely garden... several people i know live close by...
An attack by a suicide bomber on a busy Kabul supermarket close to the British embassy has killed eight people, including one child and wounded six, including up to three foreigners.

Afghan security officials were still removing bodies from the upmarket Finest supermarket in the Afghanistan capital's diplomatic neighbourhood as distraught relatives waited for news.

Kabul's police chief, Mohammad Ayub Salangi, confirmed claims by witnesses that today's attack was carried out by a single suicide bomber.

In a text message sent to the Guardian and other media organisations the Taliban's spokesman claimed responsibility for the blast, saying they were targeting the "head of Blackwater company in Afghanistan". There is no confirmation that any employee of the private US security contractor, now know as Xe Services, was in the shop at the time.

A supermarket worker, who had been packing customers' shopping, said he heard two grenades being thrown on the ground. He initially thought were falling glass bottles but when he saw they were grenades he sprinted out the front door seconds before the blasts, which were followed by the main explosion of the suicide bomb.

meanwhile, my country continues firing at people on the ground - militants and civilians alike - from unmanned drones being flown by people sitting behind computer consoles in the high desert of the u.s... when and where does this insanity stop...?

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Sarkozy lashes out at the banksters at WEF in Davos

i love it... i love it a LOT... 's about time one of the leaders of the industrialized nations put the cards on the table... i'm no sarkozy fan but he's got this one right...
The world has paid with tens of millions of unemployed, who were in no way to blame and who paid for everything. It caused a lot of anger. Too much is too much. The world was stupefied to see one of five biggest U.S. banks collapse like a house of cards. We saw that for the last 10 years, major institutions in which we thought we could trust had done things which had nothing to do with simple common sense. That's what happened... There is an ocean between flexibility and the scandal we saw. So if people present me as obsessed with regulation, it's because there is a need for regulation. I don't contest the principle of securitisation, but when one offshore country guaranteed 700 times its GDP, are we in the market economy or in a madhouse? Bonuses don't bother me, provided there are also ... draw-downs when there are losses. When things don't work, you can never find anyone responsible. Those who got bumper bonuses for seven years should have made losses in 2008 when things collapsed.

you tell 'em, nick... i've been waiting a long time to hear this kind of righteous rant from a major world leader...

(thanks to bobswern at daily kos...)

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Pulling the plug on the internet in Egypt - what our handlers would like to be able to do in the U.S. [UPDATE]


here's an arresting visual...


make no mistake... what happened early this morning in egypt is precisely what our super-rich elites and their bought and paid-for puppets in government would like to be able to do to us if, at some point, Things Get Out Of Hand...
About a half-hour past midnight Friday morning in Egypt, the Internet went dead.

Almost simultaneously, the handful of companies that pipe the Internet into and out of Egypt went dark as protesters were gearing up for a fresh round of demonstrations calling for the end of President Hosni Mubarak's nearly 30-year rule, experts said.

Egypt has apparently done what many technologists thought was unthinkable for any country with a major Internet economy: It unplugged itself entirely from the Internet to try and silence dissent.

Experts say it's unlikely that what's happened in Egypt could happen in the United States because the U.S. has numerous Internet providers and ways of connecting to the Internet. Coordinating a simultaneous shutdown would be a massive undertaking.

"It can't happen here," said Jim Cowie, the chief technology officer and a co-founder of Renesys, a network security firm in Manchester, N.H., that studies Internet disruptions. "How many people would you have to call to shut down the U.S. Internet? Hundreds, thousands maybe? We have enough Internet here that we can have our own Internet. If you cut it off, that leads to a philosophical question: Who got cut off from the Internet, us or the rest of the world?"

In fact, there are few countries anywhere with all their central Internet connections in one place or so few places that they can be severed at the same time. But the idea of a single "kill switch" to turn the Internet on and off has seduced some American lawmakers, who have pushed for the power to shutter the Internet in a national emergency.

The Internet blackout in Egypt shows that a country with strong control over its Internet providers apparently can force all of them to pull their plugs at once, something that Cowie called "almost entirely unprecedented in Internet history."


In 2009, Iran disrupted Internet service to try to curb protests over disputed elections. And two years before that, Burma's Internet was crippled when military leaders apparently took the drastic step of physically disconnecting primary communications links in major cities, a tactic that was foiled by activists armed with cell phones and satellite links.

Computer experts say what sets Egypt's action apart is that the entire country was disconnected in an apparently coordinated effort, and that all manner of devices are affected, from mobile phones to laptops. It seems, though, that satellite phones would not be affected.

here's what's proposed for the u.s., sans any option for judicial review...

four days ago via cnet...

Internet 'kill switch' bill will return

A controversial bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a "national cyberemergency," and prohibiting any review by the court system, will return this year.

Internet companies should not be alarmed by the legislation, first introduced last summer by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), a Senate aide said last week. Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We're not trying to mandate any requirements for the entire Internet, the entire Internet backbone," said Brandon Milhorn, Republican staff director and counsel for the committee.

Instead, Milhorn said at a conference in Washington, D.C., the point of the proposal is to assert governmental control only over those "crucial components that form our nation's critical infrastructure."

what is happening in egypt should be a wake-up call for the rest of the world...

meanwhile, after the fall of the government in tunisia, the escalation in egypt and now in yemen, and there are even tremors being felt in jordan, one of the most stable of the regional states...

Thousands of protesters on Thursday took to the streets of Yemen, one of the Middle East’s most impoverished countries, and secular and Islamist Egyptian opposition leaders vowed to join large protests expected Friday as calls for change rang across the Arab world.

The Yemeni protests were another moment of tumult in a region whose aging order of American-backed governments appears to be staggering. In a span of just weeks, Tunisia’s government has fallen, Egypt’s appears shaken and countries like Jordan and Yemen are bracing against demands of movements with divergent goals but similar means.

i am definitely feeling tectonic plates shifting...

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mohamed ElBaradei returns to his native Egypt

which may perhaps spell the end of the nearly 30-year rule of hosni mubarak... i have a lot of respect for ElBaradei, particularly when his leadership at the international atomic energy agency was under attack by the bush administration for refusing to fall in line with the demonizing of iran with the false accusations of developing nuclear weapons (see my previous posts here)...
Egyptian pro-reform advocate and Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei is returning home Thursday to take part in the anti-government protests gripping his country.

A spokesman for the pro-reform leader, Abdul-Rahman Samir, said ElBaradei was expected to join protests planned for after Friday prayers across the country.

ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, has emerged as a prime challenger to President Hosni Mubarak's regime since he first returned home last year. He has created a wave of support from reformists, but insists he would not run in this year's presidential election unless restrictions on who is eligible to contest are lifted and far reaching political reforms are introduced.

things are heating up in the region... the tunisia regime overthrow is now being partially attributed to wikileaks which, in turn, is fueling the unrest in egypt... now i see it's spreading to yemen...
Yemen protests: Thousands call on president to leave

the flames are spreading...

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Three-Month Rollout for Gays in Military Policy

some headlines just stop me in my tracks and this is one of them...

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Hypocrisy, double-speak and denial ran amok in the SOTU

robert scheer...
The speech was a distraction from what seriously ails us: an unabated mortgage crisis, stubbornly high unemployment and a debt that spiraled out of control while the government wasted trillions making the bankers whole. Instead the president conveyed the insular optimism of his fat-cat associates: “We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.” How convenient to ignore the fact that this bubble of prosperity, which has failed the tens of millions losing their homes and jobs, was floated by enormous government indebtedness now forcing deep cuts in social services including state financial aid for those better-educated students the president claims to be so concerned about.

His references to education provided a convenient scapegoat for the failure of the economy, rather than to blame the actions of the Wall Street hustlers to whom Obama is now sucking up. Yes, it is an obvious good to have better-educated students to compete with other economies, but that is hardly the issue of the moment when all of the world’s economies are suffering grievous harm resulting from the irresponsible behavior of the best and the brightest here at home. It wasn’t the students struggling at community colleges who came up with the financial gimmicks that produced the Great Recession, but rather the super-whiz-kid graduates of the top business and law schools.

What nonsense to insist that low public school test scores hobbled our economy when it was the highest-achieving graduates of our elite colleges who designed and sold the financial gimmicks that created this crisis. Indeed, some of the folks who once designed the phony mathematical formulas underwriting subprime mortgage-based derivatives won Nobel prizes for their effort. A pioneer in the securitization of mortgage debt, as well as exporting jobs abroad, was one Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of GE, whom Obama recently appointed to head his new job creation panel.

not much left of that hopey-changey thingy, eh...?

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Still more ennui

maybe it's being in pristina, kosovo, in the dead of winter, but i'm seeing a pattern here...

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Of COURSE the mortgage giants are sticking it to us even more than we thought...!

why would we think for a moment that they would do otherwise...? privatize profits, socialize costs - that's the american way of capitalism... bend over and grab your ankles...
Mortgage Giants Leave Legal Bills to the Taxpayers

Since the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, taxpayers have spent more than $160 million defending the mortgage finance companies and their former top executives in civil lawsuits accusing them of fraud. The cost was a closely guarded secret until last week, when the companies and their regulator produced an accounting at the request of Congress.

The bulk of those expenditures — $132 million — went to defend Fannie Mae and its officials in various securities suits and government investigations into accounting irregularities that occurred years before the subprime lending crisis erupted. The legal payments show no sign of abating.

of COURSE it was "a closely guarded secret"... why make a big deal out of announcing that our routine screwing is even more painful than we already thought...?

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

And we would have expected something different...?

from an israeli probe of an israeli atrocity...? in your dreams...

Israeli probe: Gaza flotilla raid was ‘legal’

it's bizarrely comforting that, if the u.s. was investigating itself on a similar incident, the results would no doubt be depressingly the same...

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Hilarious...! Chinese reverse engineering...

hey... you gotta admire the chinese... they can sure figure things out... u.s. stealth technology was adapted from technology developed by the germans in the last years of wwii (another interesting story, i'm sure) and first put into regular use in the early 70s, although rumors are that it was in use even prior to that... but it only took the chinese slightly over 10 years to take what the u.s. had and make it part of their own defense arsenal... the biggest slap in the face was introducing it as secretary gates was making his big visit to china a couple of weeks ago and just prior to hu jintao's visit to d.c. this past week... no fools, those chinese...
Chinese officials recently unveiled a new, high-tech stealth fighter that could pose a significant threat to American air superiority — and some of its technology, it turns out, may well have come from the U.S. itself.

Balkan military officials and other experts have told The Associated Press that in all probability the Chinese gleaned some of their technological know-how from an American F-117 Nighthawk that was shot down over Serbia in 1999.

Nighthawks were the world's first stealth fighters, planes that were very hard for radar to detect. But on March 27, 1999, during NATO's aerial bombing of Serbia in the Kosovo war, a Serbian anti-aircraft missile shot one of the Nighthawks down. The pilot ejected and was rescued.

It was the first time one of the much-touted "invisible" fighters had ever been hit. The Pentagon believed a combination of clever tactics and sheer luck had allowed a Soviet-built SA-3 missile to bring down the jet.

The wreckage was strewn over a wide area of flat farmlands, and civilians collected the parts — some the size of small cars — as souvenirs.

"At the time, our intelligence reports told of Chinese agents crisscrossing the region where the F-117 disintegrated, buying up parts of the plane from local farmers," says Adm. Davor Domazet-Loso, Croatia's military chief of staff during the Kosovo war.

yep, the chinese are definitely slick operators...

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