Saturday, April 03, 2004

Why we need your Social Security number:

We must provide your Social Security number to the credit bureau(s) in order to obtain your credit report. We also use your Social Security number as part of our identity verification process, both for delivering your credit report and when we speak with you on the phone about your report or membership. [...]
posted by Irdial , 2:23 PM Þ 

Just in case you didnt realize, the reason why you will not have to be finferprinted and photographed at the US border if biometric passports are issued in European countries, is that these passports will have downloadable biometric information in them that will be stored by USVISIT/NSA. The outrage is still there, only its being perpetrated both on your own shores and their shores.

This is why we must absolutely refuse biometric passports.
posted by Irdial , 1:30 PM Þ 
Friday, April 02, 2004


great minds think

mine wanders
posted by Alun , 8:42 PM Þ 

Is America 'going over the top' with 'excessive zeal'?-- Critics across the spectrum viewed U.S. VISIT as the latest sign of U.S. "paranoia" which has culminated in treating all "foreigners like potential terrorists." Expressing a widespread view, a German public radio station termed it a "drastic measure" reminiscent of a police state and typical of the "usual cowboy mentality" of the Bush Administration. European and Canadian papers were especially uneasy about the "Orwellian" nature of the program and the potential for "misuse" of biometrics data. Asian, Pakistani and Latin writers suggested the program would, as Seoul's moderate Hankook Ilbo predicted, "arouse a sense of humiliation and antipathy toward the U.S." in affected countries.

Terrorism 'triumphs' because of these measures-- Some critics held that the new security measures and the issuance of continuous "vague threats" give more clout and "prestige" to terrorists who can "up the ante at will." Spain's conservative ABC worried that the U.S. was not only "risking a collapse of air traffic," but "rewarding terrorists with an invaluable psychological victory." Peru's center-left La Republica further suggested the measures "represent a victory of the insane fundamentalist minority over the sane...majority of people in the world."

"Freedom Too High A Price To Pay"-- Gillian Bowditch commented in the conservative Scotsman of Edinburgh (Internet version, 1/6): "The start of 2004 has been characterized by grounded flights, the decision to employ armed sky marshals on British planes and to photograph and fingerprint visitors to the U.S. If you had no fear of flying before, prepare to be terrified from now on. It is hard not to sympathize with these new procedures.... But it seems that we have become unable to talk sensibly about the terrorist threat without generating a form of social paralysis.... It is not just that these new controls force us to become suspicious, paranoid and jittery.... There is the prospect of visitors travelling to 'the land of the free' being treated as if they are potential terrorists. Civilized societies photograph and fingerprint suspects, not people who are guests in their country....

"U.S. Visit"-- Heinrich Graben commented on public broadcasting Hessischer Rundfunk radio (1/6): "It reminds us of a police state and control mania.... There is a bitter taste, because once you are registered in the great computer of the USA, you will remain there. It is absolutely unclear how data misuse can be prevented and how overreaction in cases of the same name can be ruled out. The Secretary for Homeland Security takes drastic measures in the usual cowboy mentality of the Bush administration. He thinks the more information you get about everything and everybody, the better it is. But this is not really working out. Most Islamic terrorists have no criminal record.... With the new border checks the U.S. has gone over the top."

CYPRUS: "Proof And Fingerprints"-- Right-wing, nationalistic Simerini declared (1/7): "The U.S. authorities are now implementing new measures in their effort to halt terrorism. In addition to the weird questionnaire that has to be filled out by those who wish to secure a visa for entry to the U.S., a new security system has been introduced at American airports. Upon arrival at American airports, you should expect to be welcomed by 'photographers' of the security authorities. They will take your picture, they will take your fingerprints and, if necessary, they might decide to subject you to a blood test. The Department of Homeland Security has clarified that this measure does not apply for the citizens of 28 countries, including the EU member-states, who arrive in the U.S. for a short period of time.... The question is whether these measures will avert possible terrorists from entering the U.S. It is very likely that a determined terrorist will not be stopped because of any security measures. A world-wide 'filing' system might have been more effective. However, even in that case not known terrorists could certainly try to enter [the U.S.]... As Asterix would have said, 'Are these Romans crazy or are they not?'"

"American Authorities Got Themselves In the Trap of Neurosis"-- Jiri Dolezal wrote in right-center Lidove noviny (1/7): "Safety is an extremely treacherous state, because it does not exist. Only various illusions of safety exist. And there is also a similar behavior which psychiatrists call neurosis. Starting this week, American authorities were caught in the trap of neurosis: they divided humankind between 'us' (U.S. citizens) and 'them' in order to secure safety. These measures mean that (aside from a few exceptions) the rest of the world is a priori suspected of terrorism.... But Timothy McVeigh would not appear on such a list of the a priori suspected.... Also the Japanese...would not have to have their fingerprints and photos taken...despite the fact that Japan is the only country where terrorists successfully used WMD. For the U.S. taxpayers money, U.S. authorities have created a perfectly irrational ceremony for elimination of anxiety, nothing more."

"With A Fingerprint Into The Home Of Freedom"-- Right-wing conservative Magyar Nemzet noted (1/5): “Although the system of electric forensic and biometric data gathering, a system that is hard to evade, is becoming more frequently used worldwide, it is another unpopular measure that fits well with the similarly unpopular trends, whereby the United States is losing prestige. These measures were up till now related to criminals and suspects. Because of the war in Iraq, the United States has lost a lot of its prestige and it turned for many from ‘the home of freedom’ to the ‘empire of arrogance’. If the United States loses its internal freedom and disrespects the rights of others, the terrorists can start rubbing their hands in satisfaction.”

IRELAND: "U.S. Plans To Retain Visitors' Fingerprints For 75 Years"-- Christine Newman observed in the center-left Irish Times (1/8): "Fingerprints taken from Irish citizens on entry to the U.S. will be retained indefinitely by the U.S. authorities, even after the visa-holder has left the country.... A spokesman in the Data Protection Commissioner's office in Dublin said: 'If the fingerprints are for the purpose of confirming entry to the U.S. and then again on departure, and that is the only reason, then they should be deleted.' If fingerprints were to be used in the long term, then the public should have the right to know so that they could choose whether they wanted to go to the U.S., the Dublin spokesman said.

PAIN: "Big Brother"-- Centrist La Vanguardia wrote (1/6): "There is no doubt that the new entry control procedures adopted January 5 by U.S. authorities is a step toward the conversion of that great country into a troubling copy of the societies controlled by Big Brother, one that ignores people's fundamental rights and imposes bureaucratic and police red tape. It is a sad paradox that the U.S., founded under the sign of freedom, is succumbing to a climate of fear and paranoia, conveniently stoked by the government itself.... Since September 11, the government of George Bush has implemented a series of preventive measures that seriously threaten the very foundations of its own society, when they don't openly violate international human and civil rights charters (such as the prisoners held at Guantanamo).... If other countries take similar measures, the obscene policy of security emanating from Washington could lead us to a world dominated by fear, mistrust of foreigners, and restrictions on civil rights and freedoms."

"Reciprocal Controls"-- Left-of-center El País wrote (1/6): "The origin of this initiative [US-VISIT] is the trauma of 9/11 and the anti-terrorist psychosis it caused, though it is by no means clear that measures such as these would have stopped those attacks. The logical response to these controls is reciprocity.... It would be logical for Europe to introduce reciprocal measures. It should be possible to create reasonable controls that do not disturb the delicate balance between security and freedom.... The passengers also must fill out a questionnaire which includes questions about religious beliefs, diet and political tendencies.... This is entering the area of personal privacy. All of this reflects that the U.S. does not know how to live without an enemy. After the end of communism, it has found one in the fear of a slippery, ubiquitous terrorism that the Bush Administration encourages because it believes that it favors it. But this could be the first triumph of the terrorists."

"The U.S. Isolated In Its Hyper-Security"-- Conservative ABC editorialized (1/5): "There is no doubt that getting our skies free of terrorists is in the common interest, but the U.S. pretension of handling the issue just as a domestic one is excessive. The U.S. is risking a collapse of air traffic...and definitely is rewarding terrorists with an invaluable psychological victory.... The biggest mistake that the U.S. might commit is to tie its own hands with a security fixation, and even worse to think that allies must follow. For any ally, it is always easier to share a justified war than an exaggerated obsession."

SOUTH KOREA: "Problems With Selective U.S. Fingerprinting"-- Moderate Hankook Ilbo editorialized (1/8): "Even though it is intended to counter terrorism, the U.S.-VISIT program will arouse a sense of humiliation and antipathy toward the U.S. among countries affected by the program.... In particular, it is absurd for the U.S. to include the ROK--an ally that hosts 37,000 American forces and is participating in its war on terrorism by deciding to send some 3,000 troops to Iraq in the face of dangers of terrorist attacks--among those countries subject to the program, while exempting 27 countries, such as EU countries, Australia and Japan, from it.... We cannot shake off our suspicion that Washington is openly dividing the world into 'reliable' and 'unreliable' countries.... The U.S.-VISIT program will prove counterproductive, only inviting hatred toward the Americans as it treats all but a few countries as hotbeds of terrorism."

"U.S.'s Fingerprinting Another Terror Against Human Rights"--The nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (1/6): "The U.S.-VISIT program violates human rights by regarding foreign visitors to the U.S. as potential criminals and forcing them to provide their biological information to U.S. authorities.... Furthermore, the program reeks of racism as the U.S. exempts Canada and 27 countries, including EU countries, Japan and Australia, with which it has signed visa-waiver agreements, from the program and targets countries in the Middle East, Africa and South America. In this regard, it is only natural that Brazil has begun fingerprinting and photographing all U.S. citizens entering that country.... Washington should work out procedures for visitors that dispel concerns about human rights violations and reduce inconveniencies for other countries as much as possible. If many foreigners feel displeasure [over U.S. immigration procedures], it itself amounts to aggravating the security environment."

INDONESIA: "Fingerprints Of Air Passengers"-- Independent Indo Pos/Jawa Pos of Surabaya opined (1/8): “We could tolerate a tighter security measure that is general in nature such as by deploying more security personnel on the streets and in busy public places. But it is intolerable to take the fingerprints of those on board an airplane. It is beyond logic. Therefore, other countries should remind the U.S. that its actions against terrorism should not be at odds with the comfort and privacy of foreign citizens. Terrorism is a threat to all human beings. But the efforts to ward it off must be conducted within the sense of solidarity and togetherness. Do not give the impression as if only the U.S. has an interest in terrorism, that only the U.S. is threatened by terrorism, and that only the U.S. is the most responsible for the efforts to fight terrorism.”

PHILIPPINES: "Fingerprinting"-- The editorial of the independent Manila Times read (1/8): "Will this new measure hinder travel to and trade with the U.S.? We don't think so.... Filipinos will continue to go to the U.S.... Filipinos will grin and bear the embarrassment.... What is most unfair is that nationals of countries where many terrorists are based are exempt from these 'enhancements'.... Brazil has retaliated by photographing and fingerprinting visiting Americans. Should be do the same for the sake of our internal security?"

PAKISTAN: "U.S. Visit Program To Humiliate Foreigners"-- The Islamabad-based pro-jihad Urdu daily Islam editorialized (1/7): "The new U.S. Visit program is a plan to humiliate foreign nationals in the U.S. This program illustrates that the U.S. has no respect and does not care for the people of other countries. Every person who comes to America is a suspected terrorist. The new visit program might affect U.S. relations with other states. Tourism and trade may also be affected as well.... According to some critics, this new procedure is a symbol of the mental bankruptcy of the U.S. administration and Americans are frightened due to their policies and imperialistic activities.... It is unfortunate that the U.S. leadership is steering America towards loneliness in the world."

SOUTH AFRICA: "Scanning For What?"-- The pro-government Star held (1/7): "The U.S. has reason to be concerned about safety and security.... But the real issue now is whether it is creating a safer world or one dominated by psychotic obsessions. Its war on terror has so far solved very little.... Now, in yet another aberration, Washington is insisting on foreign visitors with visas being fingerprinted and photographed.... In other words, the Americans will build up a gigantic database of the ordinary citizens of the world.... From America itself comes the warning that the introduction of biometric identifiers will mean the creating of surveillance society. Furthermore, civil liberty groups believe that this invasion of privacy is unlikely to lead to the bad guys being caught, but rather that immigrants will be trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare. Inevitably there is going to be retaliation.... We again ask, are we heading for a safer world?"

KENYA: "Dig Out The Roots Of Terror"-- Independent left of center Nation commented (1/7): “If Pearl Harbor was a turning-point because it sucked the U.S. into World War II, September 11 seems to have sounded the death-knell for civil rights. Armed escorts on planes, more armed guards sealing off airports--sounds like a declaration of war on citizens of the world. Perhaps a more appropriate way should be to focus attention on the root causes of rising terrorism, which can be traced to the unresolved Palestinian question. Arming soldiers to the teeth to watch over the people sounds like an extension of the explosive Middle East situation to a wider arena. By polarizing the world, the U.S. precautions are bound to lead to deeper suspicion and mistrust among races. No amount of photo-shoots and fingerprints can resolve global terrorism. A less painful way has to be sought.”

ECUADOR: "U.S. Psychosis"-- Sensationalist La Hora noted (1/7): "[This] humiliating and discriminatory provision [of fingerprinting and photographing visitors to the U.S.] that has begun at land and maritime borders in the U.S., is aimed particularly at citizens from the so-called Third World--rather ironic considering that the U.S. was nurtured throughout its history and even now is maintained by migrations from this region of the world. In an act of reciprocity, Brazil has imposed similar restrictive measures on Americans entering through its airports. Other Latin American countries should imitate this exercising of their right to safeguard their own national security.... September 11, 2001, with its burden or horror and death, has unleashed a demented psychosis.... A psychosis that is nearing hysteria among some U.S. political leaders, one that might bring unforeseeable consequences both for its own people and the rest of humankind."

PERU: "Are We All Terrorists"-- Center-left asserted La Republica (1/8): "A few days ago the U.S. Visit program has been implemented.… Of course every country is free to take the measures it considers necessary to guarantee its own domestic security...but since they affect so many millions of tourists and the vast majority of countries in the world --including Peru--, we must state our opinion.… Don't these measures, whose actual effectiveness to prevent attacks is relative, really represent a victory of the insane fundamentalist minority over the sane...majority of people in the world?…It should be possible to implement reasonable controls without breaking the sensitive balance between security and freedom… Since 9/11...there have been accelerated steps backward on the later… As it happened during the cold wa...times are back where personal privacy was invaded...they show that the U.S. cannot live without an enemy.… It is not communism anymore but something worse: omnipresent terrorism...whose [crimes] all of us have to pay for.… Therefore, we salute Brazil's decision to implemented a similar practice in reciprocity.… If we are suspects, U.S. citizens are too.… We have become potential terrorists."
posted by Irdial , 7:59 PM Þ 

Liberal Radio Network Hits Air With Left Jab

By Howard Kurtz

Al Franken set a lofty standard on his new radio show yesterday, casting it as "a battle for truth, a battle for justice, a battle for America itself."

"Not to be grandiose about it," he added.

Air America Radio didn't have a grandiose debut -- the signal was elusive in Los Angeles, its San Francisco station didn't materialize and its Internet feed kept breaking off -- but the fledgling liberal network managed to plant its flag in what has been overwhelmingly conservative turf.

With a preaching-to-the-converted tone, Franken ripped President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter ("a walking horror show," he called her), the target of several parodies in which the conservative commentator was portrayed -- in rather mean fashion -- as an ill-tempered, cursing, borderline racist.

A parade of liberal guests scored their partisan points on "The O'Franken Factor." But perhaps the most entertaining moment came when conservative talker and onetime Watergate felon G. Gordon Liddy called in from his radio show.

"I know if someone comes after me, you'll kill them," Franken said.

"And not quickly," Liddy noted. "Slowly and painfully."

A comedian who made a name on "Saturday Night Live" and later wrote a book attacking Rush Limbaugh, Franken is the marquee draw for Air America, which launched on stations in New York, Chicago, L.A., Portland, Ore., and suburban southern California and on XM Satellite Radio. A station in Minneapolis, Franken's home town, is picking up his show. Air America is seeking a Washington station, but area listeners can access the network online at

The venture was rushed on the air by Chevy Chase businessman Mark Walsh, a former executive at HBO and America Online who worked for John Kerry's presidential campaign last year, and Manhattan financier Evan Cohen. Walsh, the company's chief executive, says he expects the firm, which has fewer than 100 employees, to lose $30 million in the coming years but hopes to gain a foothold among liberal and independent listeners hungry for a left-leaning alternative on the radio.

Mindful that such liberal politicians as Mario Cuomo and Jerry Brown have flopped as radio hosts, Walsh has assembled a lineup that leans heavily on entertainers, from comedian Janeane Garofalo to rapper Chuck D to Lizz Winstead, co-creator of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."

Conservative pundits have been dismissive. O'Reilly said on his Fox News show that "this whole liberal network scheme is just plain stupid. . . . These pinheads backing the venture will lose millions of dollars because the propaganda network is simply tedious and tedious doesn't sell."

Conservative radio host Jay Severin mocked the venture in the Boston Globe: "Yes, we know you believe with utmost sincerity that we are monstrous Neanderthals, but do you really believe your left-wing/pacifist/United Nations/French worldview will win a big middle-class audience? In America?"

Katherine Lanpher, formerly of Minnesota Public Radio, proved a useful foil as Franken's co-host on the noon program, chiding him for promoting his latest book and at one point telling him to "zip it." She did much of the heavy lifting during an interview with former senator Bob Kerrey, a member of the 9/11 commission, although Franken displayed detailed knowledge of the terrorism issue as well. When Franken referred to "Gorelick," Lanpher had to explain that he meant former deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick, also a member of the Sept. 11 commission.

A conspiratorial caller asked about rumors that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice had warned then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown not to fly on Sept. 11, 2001, which Kerrey dismissed as unsubstantiated. Franken made sure to add that "I don't believe for a second that they knew this was going to happen. . . . I do believe they were asleep at the wheel."

A good radio show has strong pacing and a deft mixture of ideology, confrontation and humor. Franken's "Factor" was meandering and discursive, almost NPR-like, sounding more like someone shooting the breeze at a dinner party than trying to persuade listeners. The "bumpers" between segments were soft and Muzak-like. With Franken speaking in a relatively low voice, the self-proclaimed "Zero Spin Zone" sometimes sounded like a zero energy zone.

An interview with liberal author and filmmaker Michael Moore wandered from the writing of his two-year-old book "Stupid White Men" to joking about connections between the Bush family and the Saudi royal clan to Moore reading letters from soldiers who don't like the president.

Half an hour into the interview, it was Lanpher who pressed Moore on why, while endorsing Wesley Clark for president, he called Bush a "deserter." Moore insisted it was an accurate description of Bush's allegedly spotty National Guard service.

Unlike Moore, Franken declined to engage a New Jersey caller named Eric who said that the war in Iraq would save thousands of lives over time.

A surprise call from Al Gore was frittered away as Moore offered an apology (for supporting Ralph Nader in 2000) so convoluted that the former Democratic nominee asked: "What are you saying?" Gore said he was making an exception to his no-interview policy because "your show is a really important show" and promised to return. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is slated for today.

Franken got off a good rant now and then, such as when he talked about Bush's television ads: "They can't show the carrier footage with him in front of 'Mission Accomplished' -- it just looked stupid. Now I think they can't do 9/11. The only thing they're going to be able to do is ads of him clearing brush."

But a mock news interview with an Arab man at the London airport who seemed to suggest he was bringing on board a dog who had swallowed box cutters seemed insensitive as well as unfunny.

The bombast level quadrupled with a burst of rock music when Randi Rhodes, a brassy Brooklynite and longtime Florida radio host, took over at 3 p.m. She served up red meat by the slab.

"We're here because you're smarter than George W. Bush," Rhodes declared. "The Bush family is just like the Corleones. . . . Jeb fixed his brother's election." Within 15 minutes she had worked in the word "penis," and after that "girls' panties."

Rhodes defended the former attorney general's response to terrorism, compared with her successor, John Ashcroft: "I know Janet Reno. . . . She's more man than he is."

Seeming to embody liberal anger, Rhodes launched into an extraordinary diatribe about why the president continued to speak to a second-grade class after two planes hit the World Trade Center, and said he then flew to Nebraska because he was "scared . . . Republicans have been drinking this Kool-Aid for a really stinking long time."

At 7 p.m. media analyst Marty Kaplan provided some comic relief by interviewing actor Larry David, who described how he was kissing an actress on his show for HBO, "Curb Your Enthusiasm." But even this had a political point: David abruptly stopped when he saw that the woman had a photo of Bush.

Garofalo, who emerged as an anti-Iraq war spokeswoman last year, engaged in stream-of-consciousness bar banter with her sidekick, actor Sam Seder. The 8 p.m. host slammed what she called "closet-bigot, homophobe, misogynist people who masquerade as Republicans," saying they practice "the politics of extreme belligerence, elastic ethics and very malleable and bendable truths." And she was just warming up.

Garofalo also groused about Fox News Channel anchor Brit Hume and his "Special Report" panelists -- "his Algonquin table of apologists" -- whom Seder half-jokingly characterized as "extreme right, far extreme right and very, very far extreme fascist right."

HBO talk show host Bill Maher told Garofalo it was inappropriate for conservatives to talk about putting Ronald Reagan's image on currency and even Mount Rushmore while he is still alive. Garofalo responded: "They want to put his name on everything -- airports, park benches, bidets."

Garofalo later complained about the "very vulgar things" said about Bill Clinton when he was trying to battle al Qaeda during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Maher, taking a swipe at the "lazy" and "stupid" press, offered Garofalo and her network words of encouragement. "There is not a liberal media," he said. "That's why I'm glad you guys are there."

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

posted by Ken , 7:54 PM Þ 

posted by Irdial , 7:28 PM Þ 

The US now demands fingerprints from visitors from most foreign countries. The US government takes the outrageous position that "If you're not a terrorist, you have no grounds to object to whatever kind of surveillance we might impose."

If I were a foreigner, I would probably stay away rather than subject myself to this.
posted by Irdial , 7:15 PM Þ 

U.S. military contractor Lockheed Martin is STILL the prime candidate for the contract to conduct the 2006 Canadian census. Send an email to the new Minister of Industry and PM Paul Martin calling on them to cancel the Lockheed Martin census deal--or face a national boycott of the census! Just click here.
posted by Irdial , 7:12 PM Þ 

Its going to happen.

By Suzanne Gamboa, Associated Press, 4/2/2004 12:29

WASHINGTON (AP) A program requiring foreigners to be fingerprinted and photographed before entering the country is being expanded to include millions of travelers from some of America's closest allies, The Associated Press learned Friday.

The move affects citizens in 27 countries including Britain, Japan and Australia who had been allowed to travel within the United States without a visa for up to 90 days.

Under changes that will take effect by Sept. 30, they will be fingerprinted and photographed when they enter through any of 115 international airports and 14 seaports.

Asa Hutchinson, the Homeland Security Department's border and transportation undersecretary, was holding a news conference Friday afternoon to discuss the changes to the US-VISIT program.

Members of Congress were briefed earlier, and details about the plan were shared with the AP by government and congressional officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Bush administration made the decision after determining the so-called ''visa-waiver countries'' won't meet an October deadline to have biometric passports that include fingerprint and iris identification features that make the documents virtually impossible to counterfeit.

But citizens from those countries still won't have to go through the consulate interviews, background checks, fingerprinting and photographing that foreigners from other countries must do to obtain a visa.

The US-VISIT program was passed by Congress in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In January, the U.S. government began fingerprinting and photographing visitors from nations other than the visa-waiver countries started being fingerprinted and photographed at the border. About 5 million people have been processed so far.

Fingerprinting the visa-waiver citizens could have ramifications for Americans when they travel abroad. When US-VISIT began last winter, Brazil retaliated by requiring Americans visiting that country to be fingerprinted and photographed.

The visa-waiver countries are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
posted by Irdial , 7:07 PM Þ 


A program requiring foreigners to be fingerprinted and photographed before entering the country is being expanded to include millions of travelers from some of America's closest allies, The Associated Press learned Friday.
The move affects citizens in 27 countries - including Britain, Japan and Australia - who had been allowed to travel within the United States without a visa for up to 90 days.
Under changes that will take effect by Sept. 30, they will be fingerprinted and photographed when they enter through any of 115 international airports and 14 seaports.

File under: How to make friends and influence people.
posted by Alun , 7:00 PM Þ 

'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes'

Whistleblower the White House wants to silence speaks to The Independent

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
02 April 2004

A former translator for the FBI with top-secret security clearance says she has provided information to the panel investigating the 11 September attacks which proves senior officials knew of al-Qa'ida's plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes happened.

She said the claim by the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, that there was no such information was "an outrageous lie".

Sibel Edmonds said she spent more than three hours in a closed session with the commission's investigators providing information that was circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of 2001 suggesting that an attack using aircraft was just months away and the terrorists were in place. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and has obtained a gagging order from a court by citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege".

She told The Independent yesterday: "I gave [the commission] details of specific investigation files, the specific dates, specific target information, specific managers in charge of the investigation. I gave them everything so that they could go back and follow up. This is not hearsay. These are things that are documented. These things can be established very easily."

She added: "There was general information about the time-frame, about methods to be used ? but not specifically about how they would be used ? and about people being in place and who was ordering these sorts of terror attacks. There were other cities that were mentioned. Major cities ? with skyscrapers."

The accusations from Mrs Edmonds, 33, a Turkish-American who speaks Azerbaijani, Farsi, Turkish and English, will reignite the controversy over whether the administration ignored warnings about al-Qa'ida. That controversy was sparked most recently by Richard Clarke, a former counter-terrorism official, who has accused the administration of ignoring his warnings.

The issue ? what the administration knew and when ? is central to the investigation by the 9/11 Commission, which has been hearing testimony in public and private from government officials, intelligence officials and secret sources. Earlier this week, the White House made a U-turn when it said that Ms Rice would appear in public before the commission to answer questions. Mr Bush and his deputy, Dick Cheney, will also be questioned in a closed-door session.

Mrs Edmonds, 33, says she gave her evidence to the commission in a specially constructed "secure" room at its offices in Washington on 11 February. She was hired as a translator for the FBI's Washington field office on 13 September 2001, just two days after the al-Qa'ida attacks. Her job was to translate documents and recordings from FBI wire-taps.

She said said it was clear there was sufficient information during the spring and summer of 2001 to indicate terrorists were planning an attack. "Most of what I told the commission ? 90 per cent of it ? related to the investigations that I was involved in or just from working in the department. Two hundred translators side by side, you get to see and hear a lot of other things as well."

"President Bush said they had no specific information about 11 September and that is accurate but only because he said 11 September," she said. There was, however, general information about the use of airplanes and that an attack was just months away.

To try to refute Mr Clarke's accusations, Ms Rice said the administration did take steps to counter al-Qa'ida. But in an opinion piece in The Washington Post on 22 March, Ms Rice wrote: "Despite what some have suggested, we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles, though some analysts speculated that terrorists might hijack planes to try and free US-held terrorists."

Mrs Edmonds said that by using the word "we", Ms Rice told an "outrageous lie". She said: "Rice says 'we' not 'I'. That would include all people from the FBI, the CIA and DIA [Defence Intelligence Agency]. I am saying that is impossible."

It is impossible at this stage to verify Mrs Edmonds' claims. However, some senior US senators testified to her credibility in 2002 when she went public with separate allegations relating to alleged incompetence and corruption within the FBI's translation department.
posted by Irdial , 4:58 PM Þ 
posted by Ken , 3:19 PM Þ

Al Franken & Co. are now llive and streaming.
posted by Irdial , 2:28 PM Þ 
posted by meau meau , 1:52 PM Þ 

Consider also the possible impact of a future ID card system on the most recent waves of arrests. We can reasonably presume that the security services had a fair idea of the identity of most of the luckless 500 before they pulled them in, and that any others who might have been collared in passing will have been IDed pretty swiftly afterwards. So there would have been little in the way of immediate benefit to be derived from any of these having ID cards. There would likely be a subsequent effect for these people, as a record of their arrest linked to their ID card would possibly affect their future arrest prospects, and would probably disrupt any international travel arrangements they might have. You could however say that this bummer of a deal (for the majority of the 500 who are surely innocent) would simply be an automation and global extension of the systems we've already got, i.e. the ones that don't work very well. They are the 'suspected of being Irish' de nos jours, and that's the price they pay in the War on Terror.

As regards those who really are guilty, most of them don't turn out to be obviously guilty until they've actually done something, and although they have ID documentation, this does not say in big letters "Terrorist". The US government's profiling plans do indeed anticipate some form of equivalent to this, whereby individuals deemed to have a higher than normal probability of being a future terrorist will be singled out for special attention, but unless you believe that you can profile the whole world and that profiling works, this is sheer madness. Otherwise, presence or absence of an ID card has no demonstrable effect on the success of the security services - this (as UK experience over the past 30 years has shown) is largely dictated by how good they are at their job, and how well they know they organisations they're fighting. [...]

This is from The Register. There are very good channels of information running so that we all know what is happening. These are indespensible, however there has to come a point where people say, "I will not do this". If not, then these channels are nothing more than earthquake prediction systems that people hear without taking flight in advance of the accuratelly predicted "big one".

We have to say why these things are wrong, what can be done to improve current systems whilst preserving our liberty (as I have done for the passport photo / centralized database problem) and we must also say that we will not accept or co-operate with these immoral proposals, if the government dares to attempt to bring them in. If you are not prepared to take a stand in this way, there is no point in keeping everyone alert as to what the government is planning, jsut as in the case of earthquake detection; if you are not prepared to run from an earthquake when you are given 24hrs advance warning, dont bother to provide the alert service.
posted by Irdial , 1:50 PM Þ 

Has anyone fortunate enough to have more than one mac tried Xgrid yet?
posted by meau meau , 1:27 PM Þ 

New York settles "Barbie is a Lesbian" suit (Reuters)
posted by meau meau , 1:25 PM Þ 

Can I travel overseas without an ID card?

..."A difficulty will occur with travel to the United States if we do not align what we are doing with the changes that are taking place around us... Because the United States is considering new ways of accrediting identification, and, if we do not match them, it will reintroduce visas for UK citizens visiting the US" (PI-faq)

Isn't that pathetic - the governemnt is wanting to burn your liberties because otherwise you'd have to apply for a piece of paper to visit the US. I mean, really.
posted by meau meau , 11:44 AM Þ 

Some answers

  • the actual reason for the introduction of ID cards;

  • To create and install a system of control of the population of the UK. Duh. It is less expensive and comparatively trivial to set up an ID card system that is decentralized and which does not carry some of the more offensive aspects of being compelled to carry ID, though this compulsion itself is anathema to any normal intelligent person.

  • what ID cards can and cannot do;

  • Privacy International has the FAQs about this.

  • who will be able to demand an ID card and under what circumstances;

  • Anyone will demand it, and for no good reason, in all circumstances, wheneven you open any type of account, be it a SIM card, self storage, home name it. Ask any american how many times they have to enter their SSN on a form. The American Social Security Number, your unique identifier, is ubiquitosly demanded, on almost every form that you have to fill in, no matter what it is for.

  • if ownership of ID cards will be compulsory;

  • If it is not compulsory, then it will be next to useless for the purposes that the card cannot address. Yes, I mean that.

  • if the carrying of ID cards will be compulsory;

  • If it is not compulsory, then it will be next to useless for the purposes that the card cannot address. Yes, I mean that.

  • whether all parties asking for ID cards will be able to see all of the information held on the card;

  • Unauthorized parties will have access to your information. This is for certain.

  • the security of the ID cards and the centralised database;

  • No central database is secure as long as there is a terminal available somewhere. That is a fact.

  • the form of any biometric data to be held on ID cards;

  • This is crucial. See my description of a foolproof decentralized Photo ID system for a way that it can be done for passports.

  • how any biometric data might be collected and how much time and effort would be required of that process;

  • No matter how hard or easy it is, it should not be done!

  • the ability of the cardholding citizen to view personal data held on ID cards;

  • Passports have MICR text that is human readable. These cards will be machine readable only, and presumably encryped so that if you get yourself an RFID/Standard Biometric chip reader, you will get garbage when you try and read it.

  • the accessibility of such information to people using minority computer systems, to those without computers and those requiring assistive technologies;

  • hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  • the ability of the citizen to demand the correction of misleading data held on the ID card;

  • Bwahahhahhahahahahhhhahahahh! Ask anyone who has had false information stored about them in one of the credit agencies about how this info lives forever.

  • the supervision of the centralised database necessary to operate the ID card system;

  • There is no one who could be trusted with supervising this operation; the government is full of liars, contractors are by their nature as sealed as sieves.

  • whether there will be data on the ID card to which the citizen does not have access;

  • You think? Even if there is nothing writable on the card itself, the central database will keep your activities listed against your card number, hidden from review. This is natural.

  • the ability of a citizen to track the usage of their ID card and by whom;

  • This is impossible. Not technically, but philosophically.

  • the ability of the government to track ID card usage;

  • Blunkett has already said that they will be keeping an audit trail of every time the card is swiped or RFID'd.

  • if centralised data will be shared between government departments, researchers or commercial organisations;

  • Of course it will be shared. Thats what it is for!

  • if personal data will be exported from the country and hence out of the remit of the Data Protection Acts;

  • Do you really think that this database will not be rsync'd with an NSA computer? Put down that crack pipe!

  • what protections will be put in place to prevent "function creep";

  • None; anyone will be able to ask you to show this card, and will be able to refuse to serve you if you dont show it. In America, if I remember correctly, its not legal to ask for your SSN, but take a look at how the SSN affects your life if you change your number. This will happen here if the ID card is brought in. Note how all your records are stored under this number, and that how you can be denied acces to your own information if you change your number!

  • what protections will be put in place to prevent abuse of the ID card system by future administrations;

  • Precrime?

  • what protections will be put in place to prevent official abuse of the ID card system;

  • Be serious!

  • how the ID card system will not discriminate against ethnic minorities;

  • It can ONLY discriminate against "ethnic minorities", ask any south African.

  • if the ID card scheme violates the Data Protection Acts;

  • It violates much more than that. My identity is what it is without being confirmed, registered or sanctioned by anyone, least of all the state. By creating and issuing IDs, the state takes control of you, your data and interposes itself (yet again) between you, your fellow man and the world. In Belgium, it even interposes itself between you and the street; you cannot legally walk out of your house without carrying your ID card. This is a violation of your rights as a human being, born free into this world, and not a piece of property owned or created by the state.

  • if the ID card scheme violates the European Convention on Human Rights (as incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998), especially as legal opinions suggest it will.

  • No. The Belgians, French, Germans et al all have ID cards and would not have brought in the European Convention on Human Rights unaltered if it destroyed the legal basis for their ID card systems. If not, it was a huge error that will mean either the demise of ID cards all over Europe, OR that the European Convention on Human Rights will have to be re-written.
    posted by Irdial , 11:17 AM Þ 

  • if ownership of ID cards will be compulsory;
  • IT will the governemnt has said so, ad nauseam.

  • if the carrying of ID cards will be compulsory;
  • THIS is a red herring

  • the ability of the government to track ID card usage;
  • THE governement has admitted to wanting to track PATTERNS of 'usage' so it obviouSLY plans to track usage as much as possible.

  • if centralised data will be shared between government departments, researchers or commercial organisations;

  • if personal data will be exported from the country and hence out of the remit of the Data Protection Acts;
  • THE US has already stated that your data will be held for at least three years on at least one government database, if you travel there. (To begin with?)

  • how the ID card system will not discriminate against ethnic minorities;
  • THIS will not be achievable it is already apparent that 'stop-and-search' policing discriminates against ethnic minorities, this will compound the problem if it becomes - as it will - an offence to not submit an ID card, then, as we are 'assured' it will not be compulsory to carry ID, it will be at the police officer's discretion whether or not to detain the stopped person until ID is submitted. Someone could be detained for what they don't possess rather than for what they may have done

  • if the ID card scheme violates the European Convention on Human Rights (as incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998), especially as legal opinions suggest it will.
  • UNFORTUNATELY the EU legislation is flimsy enough to allow for 'national security' to override most of it's provisions, so far as I can tell.
    posted by meau meau , 10:48 AM Þ 

    Tony Blair has converted us all into liking the idea of ID cards. No, really. We know this because he told us so ? see (about three-quarters of the way down; search for "ID cards") or the BBC's article just on ID cards.

    In growing signs of the Prime Minister's failing omniscience, he seems not only to have overlooked that his own Home Secretary acknowledges that ID cards will do little to combat terrorism ? for many reasons, many of which we covered in our Consultation Response to the Home Office

    (350kb Word doc) 15 months ago ? but also that there are still many questions outstanding. To adapt a list from a friend of mine, among other things, we still don't know:

    • the actual reason for the introduction of ID cards;

    • what ID cards can and cannot do;

    • who will be able to demand an ID card and under what circumstances;

    • if ownership of ID cards will be compulsory;

    • if the carrying of ID cards will be compulsory;

    • whether all parties asking for ID cards will be able to see all of the information held on the card;

    • the security of the ID cards and the centralised database;

    • the form of any biometric data to be held on ID cards;

    • how any biometric data might be collected and how much time and effort would be required of that process;

    • the ability of the cardholding citizen to view personal data held on ID cards;

    • the accessibility of such information to people using minority computer systems, to those without computers and those requiring assistive technologies;

    • the ability of the citizen to demand the correction of misleading data held on the ID card;

    • the supervision of the centralised database necessary to operate the ID card system;

    • whether there will be data on the ID card to which the citizen does not have access;

    • the ability of a citizen to track the usage of their ID card and by whom;

    • the ability of the government to track ID card usage;

    • if centralised data will be shared between government departments, researchers or commercial organisations;

    • if personal data will be exported from the country and hence out of the remit of the Data Protection Acts;

    • what protections will be put in place to prevent "function creep";

    • what protections will be put in place to prevent abuse of the ID card system by future administrations;

    • what protections will be put in place to prevent official abuse of the ID card system;

    • how the ID card system will not discriminate against ethnic minorities;

    • if the ID card scheme violates the Data Protection Acts;

    • if the ID card scheme violates the European Convention on Human Rights (as incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998), especially as legal opinions suggest it will.

    If only it were an April Fool's; looks like we have some educating to do. Again. Do feel free to Fax Your MP, if you'd like to make a start.

    Source ripped from the veritable Stand site.
    posted by Irdial , 10:28 AM Þ 

    Tory Liar's press conference ID comments followed up by the BBC and Guardian.

    Unfortunately they just repeat the lies - The Independent actually gets a retaliation. Talking of the Indy have you seen how much they charge for 'premium' content?


    This means that 02’s non-supervisor level operators have access to a list of numbers you have dialled when you use one of their pay-as-you-go cards!

    It just clicked that this operator could be in an outsourced-to-Asia call centre, think of the bribery potential there!
    posted by meau meau , 9:56 AM Þ 

    Trailblazer has some interesting ideas in it, but it is fundamentally flawed as a project because:
    |t doesnt integrate with any browser that you USE
    You cant import your 26m history file into it
    you cant import your bookmarks file into it

    and so, its very cool features, which rely on your surfing habbits are next to useless, unless you switch to it as your browser, and thats just not going to happen.

    It would have been much cooler to:
    write this as an extension of mozilla / firebird
    do what i said above so that at least you can use it aas a tool to sift through your bookmarks and history.

    Move along, move along.....
    posted by Irdial , 7:30 AM Þ 
    Thursday, April 01, 2004
    posted by Ken , 11:21 PM Þ 
    posted by Ken , 10:43 PM Þ 

    If any of you are travelling around Europe and need to know which airlines fly where, then I recommend using cheap0. My friend Tom of PAUSE_2 records has just launched it, and so it needs a little testing and some constructive comments, but I think it's a very useful service.

    posted by alex_tea , 6:43 PM Þ 
    posted by Alun , 5:13 PM Þ 

    Self-Configuring Chips Part of IBM Vision

    AP Technology Writer

    March 31, 2004, 3:36 PM CST

    NEW YORK -- Future microprocessors from IBM Corp. will optimize their performance by altering themselves, adding memory or removing unneeded bits of circuitry on the fly, the company's chief technologist said Wednesday.

    The self-morphing chips, still in development, were disclosed as IBM revealed wide-ranging plans for the company's current generation of chips, the Power5.

    Big Blue hopes to work with outside technology developers to make Power chips a flexible, widely used driver of several kinds of computing systems, from high-end corporate servers to video game consoles and handheld devices.

    For decades, microprocessors have gotten ever faster by cramming more and more transistors onboard, but the physical limitations of the materials involved is making it harder to shrink the dimensions much further.

    Instead of relying on continual improvements in chip speed, future chips must be more cleverly designed to combine more computing functions, said Bernard Meyerson, IBM's chief technologist. The self-altering chip is one means of achieving that.

    Here's how it would work. Continually running electrical current through a tiny circuit can cause its materials to erode, as individual atoms get stripped and dragged away by the electricity. Eventually the metal breaks.

    Chip designers got around the problem by carefully choosing a blend of metals. Now, Meyerson said, IBM has developed a way to make the metal erosion happen at will -- when software running the chip determines that part of the circuitry needs cutting or tuning.

    "It's a bit frightening to the typical designer," Meyerson said.

    He said early versions of the self-changing chips have been tested at IBM, which, like other computing companies, is pursuing means of making systems "autonomic," or self-healing and self-regulating. Meyerson said fully realized versions of the morphing chips would emerge in the next decade.

    Of course, IBM has high expectations for its chip business right now. The division has struggled with soft demand and lost money, though executives have pledged it will be profitable in 2004. The technology group, which includes chips, was recently merged with the systems unit to accentuate their shared aims.

    One goal announced Wednesday is for Power's underlying architecture to be customized by developers of other systems, much as the open-source Linux operating system can be configured by its users. For example, a Chinese company, CultureCom Holdings Ltd., has tinkered with Power chips to get them to understand Chinese characters, removing the need for translation software.

    Some analysts said IBM seemed to be making a more forceful attempt to compete against leading chip maker Intel Corp.

    But IBM executives played down that suggestion, saying IBM would continue to sell servers with Intel chips because the market is big enough for both kinds of systems.

    In trading on the New York Stock Exchange, IBM shares were down 48 cents to close at $91.84.
    Copyright (c) 2004, The Associated Press
    posted by Ken , 4:30 PM Þ 

    From Prime Minister's Monthly Press Briefing...

    Ben Brogan of the Telegraph picks up Mr Blair's earlier answer about how soon ID cards might now be introduced.
    "There is no longer a civil liberties argument about that in the majority of quarters - the logistics is the only time delay in it. Otherwise it needs to move forward."

    A non-lobby journalist asks ... since more than 500 British muslims have been arrested in the "war on terror"', is there not racial profiling in the UK, and isn't that fuelling disenchantment within the British Muslim community?
    "I think we need to adjust our terrorism laws still further - and the issue of ID cards is on the agenda more than we anticipated," says Mr Blair, baldly.

    But the non-lobby journalist did not follow-up with "Can you please explain exactly why that is so, PM?"
    Even a simple "WTF?" would have sufficed.
    posted by Alun , 1:54 PM Þ 

    "I cannot see a real difference between a library that places a photocopy machine in a room full of copyrighted material and a computer user that places a personal copy on a shared directory linked to a P2P service," he wrote. "In either case the preconditions to copying and infringement are set up but the element of authorization is missing."
    Judge Konrad von Finkelstein blows down a house of cards.
    posted by Alun , 11:07 AM Þ 

    For Dav:
    The British skirt quartet The Darkness lands in used bombastischer manners by spaceship on the stage and tears the guests to applause storms.

    From the German Phonographic Awards. You'll be happy to know Scooter won Best Dancefloor Act. Hopefully that means the best act that can be used as a dancefloor.

    Translated...."And you surprise you that you badly are?"

    [That's irdial's broken img from another src]

    Alex, ta for d2 advice.

    Letter as code, as weapon, as armoured tank.
    See also the article in this month's Wire.
    posted by Alun , 10:22 AM Þ 

    Bazbert, look closely. The three stringer is actually a six-string. A six-string three-string. Imagine Roger McGuinn meets The Presidents of the USA. Imagine the deep twang of the transatlantic submarine telephone cable. Tuned D-A-D that's all you need to ROCK, in a very hugely melodic way.
    posted by captain davros , 12:56 AM Þ 
    Wednesday, March 31, 2004
    posted by Ken , 11:15 PM Þ 

    When your passport is swiped, your picture comes up on the screen, loaded from the passport, and NOT a central database

    This sounds very much like it would cost a lot fucking less than the current options flaunted by the powers that pee. I would question why this option has not been considered but I think the answer is far too obvious! Bought bought bought bought bought
    What do you think people would do about this, given that it would be their tax dollars better spent (even if they DON'T realize the obvious freedom advantages). Would they still not give a shit? I think the people around where I live certainly wouldn't... damn fools.

    Dav, those guitars are wicked. I want to make puke-green sounds come out of that three-stringed beast.
    posted by Barrie , 8:42 PM Þ 
    posted by Ken , 7:37 PM Þ 
    posted by Alison , 5:56 PM Þ 

    "I came to this company a couple of years ago, all eager to be a part of the "team", got a nice kick up from my last job and a cool office with a view of the river. Yeah, that was a good day, came into work with my picutres and shit, degrees, put them on the wall, called my secretary and....yup, she was hot. I was pumped." [...]

    I Need a New Fucking Job
    posted by Ken , 5:25 PM Þ 
    posted by Ken , 5:09 PM Þ 
    posted by Ken , 5:05 PM Þ 

    "Newsmap is an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator. A treemap visualization algorithm helps display the enormous amount of information gathered by the aggregator. Treemaps are traditionally space-constrained visualizations of information. Newsmap's objective takes that goal a step further and provides a tool to divide information into quickly recognizable bands which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe."

    posted by Ken , 4:58 PM Þ 

    posted by Irdial , 4:41 PM Þ 

    This comes to you courtesy of a Slashdot troll.

    and one level up....
    posted by Irdial , 4:37 PM Þ 
    posted by Irdial , 3:09 PM Þ 

    Ken | Freeform radio for the chronically impatient. Avant-garde pop, poppy avant-garde, loud guitars, lots o' Japanese and 45's played slow. Playlists posted in real time on the web so you can play along at home or work.

    Wednesdays, 9am to Noon | On WFMU
    posted by Irdial , 3:06 PM Þ 

    Note all you Fugazi fans, this is Ian McKaye singing..., and it's marvellous.
    posted by captain davros , 2:20 PM Þ 

    Bayer deals blow to UK GM crops

    GM crop growing has been shelved for the "foreseeable future", according to the UK government. German company Bayer CropScience was the only firm eligible to grow herbicide-tolerant maize in the UK. But it has blamed government conditions for making the crop "economically non-viable" because they would stall production of the maize for too long.


    Perhaps Bayer could now keep GM technology in its "healthcare" division, where it belongs.
    posted by meau meau , 1:32 PM Þ 
    posted by meau meau , 12:44 PM Þ 

    SEE these guitars...from the Dav collection.

    posted by captain davros , 10:05 AM Þ 

    Rwanda: Bill played sax while Hutus burned.
    The administration did not want to repeat the fiasco of US intervention in Somalia, where US troops became sucked into fighting. It also felt the US had no interests in Rwanda, a small central African country with no minerals or strategic value.

    Don't publish and be damned.

    What is it, this mind?
    It is the wind
    Blowing through the pine trees
    In the Indian ink painting

    posted by Alun , 9:59 AM Þ 

    Terror police probe 'bomb plot'

    Anti-terrorism officers are continuing to question eight men as they investigate an alleged bomb plot. The arrests in south-east England came as detectives seized half a ton of fertiliser, of a type used as explosive in the Bali and Istanbul bombings. Anti-terrorism officers are continuing to question eight men as they investigate an alleged bomb plot. The arrests in south-east England came as detectives seized half a ton of fertiliser, of a type used as explosive in the Bali and Istanbul bombings
    About 700 officers from five forces carried out searches at 24 addresses early on Tuesday morning, following weeks of surveillance...

    This seems like a serious arrest. Achieved through targetted policing and not a one-size-fits-all-or-none ID card system.

    Would the arrested having ID cards have stopped them? - 9-11 says not. It certainly wouldn't have stopped them buying some fertiliser from the local garden centre.

    Would you having an ID card have stopped them? Obviously not but that is what the Home Office would wish you to believe.
    posted by meau meau , 9:58 AM Þ 
    Tuesday, March 30, 2004

    WELL, DUH.

    Harvard: 'File sharing doesn't hurt music sales'

    "Two US universities have released research that flies in the face of music industry claims that file sharing hurts CD sales: it "is not so", they say.

    Professors Felix Oberholzer at Harvard University and Koleman Strumpf at the University of California got together to track music downloads across 17 weeks in 2002. They matched their data on file transfers with the actual market performance of the songs and albums being downloaded.

    They concluded that even large amounts of file-swapping had little effect on album sales: "Downloads have an effect on sales which is statistically indistinguishable from zero, despite rather precise estimates ? moreover, these estimates are of moderate economic significance and are inconsistent with claims that file-sharing is the primary reason for the recent decline in music sales," they wrote.

    "While downloads occur on a vast scale, most users are likely individuals who would not have bought the album even in the absence of file sharing." [...]

    Macworld UK - Harvard: 'File sharing doesn't hurt music sales'
    posted by Ken , 9:21 PM Þ 
    posted by Alison , 8:46 PM Þ 

    "It seems that lawyers are using jail-house email lists to send potential clients letters offering their services. One couple, on finding their son who'd been missing for two days, '...was astonished that deputies failed to call them when their son was arrested -- though contact and medical information was in the young man's wallet -- yet managed to inform people who wanted his business.'"

    From the venerable Slashdot.

    Of course, I am posting this in relation to the abuse of the Biometric Net. I dont have to spell it out do I?
    posted by Irdial , 7:40 PM Þ 

    My name is Elena, I run this site and I don't sell anything in here and to tell the true, I don't have anything to sell. What I do have is my bike and this absolute freedom to ride it wherever curiosity and speed demon take me to. This pages maintained by author and with internet traffic site may be down sometimes [...]

    We are going through passport control. One need to have permission to enter zone of exclusion. I have one of nuclear research center. [...]


    tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack tack
    posted by Irdial , 7:31 PM Þ 
    posted by Irdial , 7:19 PM Þ 

    Listen to the SOUND of these guitars!!!!
    posted by Irdial , 7:15 PM Þ 

    The UKPS constantly seeks improvements to the security features of the British Passport

    That's OK as long as it relates only to tamper proofing the document.

    improvements ... in the issuing process.

    Improvements to the issuing process should relate only to the quality of the physical passport.

    The use of biometric information to link a person to a passport will enhance security.

    NO. This is a typical brain dead journalist line, without meaning or substance. HOW will "the biometric information to link a person to a passport" enhance security, and the security of WHAT exactly? You simply cannot make statements like that and be taken seriously by anyone with half a brain cell.

    Firstly, they allow for detection of counterfeit or manipulated documents


    and secondly, confirm the identity of the individual.

    If the document is issued correctly, and is not tampered with, it must be assumed that the holder is the person named on the document, whether it has biometric information in it or not. If the document has been tampered with, then the holder might not be the person named in the passport. This is the only type of check that needs to be made. Biometrics are not needed to ensure that the holder of a passport is the named person in the passport. Certainly, there is no need for a central database of all biometrics (photograph, fingerprint, iris scan) to check the identity of each person every time a passport is used. A simple test to see if the passport has been tampered with is all that is required.

    This is how you do it.

  • Each passport or ID document contains a cryptographically signed digital portrait of the holder, signed by the passport issuing authority.

  • When your passport is swiped, your picture comes up on the screen, loaded from the passport, and NOT a central database

  • The digital signature of the passport photo is also downloaded.

  • A PGP-like signature check is done against the public key of the national passport issuing authority, which is stored on the keyring of the swiping device.

  • If the signature is good, the document is genuine.
    If the signature is bad, the document is a forgery.

    This system does several things.

  • It decentralizes the management of photo authentication.

  • It stops the inevitable abuses of centralized databases.

  • Each passport photo is digitally unique. This means that every time that you get your photo taken for your passport, it is a different cryptographically signed number that ends up in your passport. You will never have a unique identifier tied to your identity, even though its your face in every photograph.

  • Big brother gets a kick in the balls.

  • Passport/ID fraud is basically eliminated, except for the fake ones made to order at the request of MI6 and the like.

  • There is no need for the centralized database that they are planning; the means exist right now, with military grade crypto and digitally signed photographs that will create a rock solid, absolutely authenticatable, user friendly, non big brother solution to passport fraud, that protects documents and does not erase our rights as free people.

    The crypto to do this is in the public domain, and so zero cost license wise. My solution is cheaper than the centrally held database solution.

    I am a genius.

    Bow to me.

    Now of course, there is nothing to stop people from collecting these signature numbers, but if that is the only part of the passport that is readable, and this readable part does not contain your name or any other personally identifiable information, it will be harder for people to create a database connected to your biometric ID. If you are the nervous type you could change your id every month; in any case, I devised this ID scheme merely to demonstrate that there is no reason to create a centralized database from the outset. There are other, better ways to manage document authenticity. All someone has to do is simply THINK about the problem. Unfortunately, the people who are behind the deployment of this disaster are the companies that sell the systems that will be used to fleece the population for decades to come. Money is the true root cause for centralization, that and the lust for absolute control that slobbering pigs like David Blindkid and John Asscroft dreamed about.
    posted by Irdial , 6:38 PM Þ 
    posted by chriszanf , 6:03 PM Þ 

    I'll give it try:

    E njoyments

    posted by Alison , 5:14 PM Þ 

    I have a 200GB Lacie d2, one of the first batch of Firewire 400 drives. It's been pretty good, I've only had two problems with it, the first was that the power unit broke within a few weeks of getting, Lacie replaced it free of charge with no questions asked.

    The second happened when upgrading to 10.3.3, I lost a lot of data from some of my partitions (I have partitioned the drive into 8 separate volumes) and had to re-initialize them as fsck wouldn't fix them. I blame Apple more than Lacie for that one, although there may be some user error in there as well.

    Apart from that I reckon it's great.
    posted by alex_tea , 4:38 PM Þ 

    I need an external hard drive for the Powerbook. Am thinking of a LaCie d2 160Gb. If this is a horrible mistake please let me know.
    posted by Alun , 2:01 PM Þ 

    The BBC catches up with Blogdial...

    Micro-chipped passports are due to be introduced in the UK in the middle of 2005.

    Biometric British Passports

    The UKPS is planning to implement a facial recognition image biometric in the British Passport book from mid-2005. The biometric can be derived from a passport photograph and will be in accordance with international standards.

    The facial image biometric will help to counter identity fraud (e.g. duplicate issues), and to verify the identity of the holder against the document. From the introduction of ID cards, all passports for British Citizens will be renewed or issued to the ID card standard.

    The UKPS constantly seeks improvements to the security features in the British Passport and in the issuing process. The use of biometric information to link a person to a passport will enhance security. Security features within a passport serve a dual role. Firstly, they allow for detection of counterfeit or manipulated documents and secondly, confirm the identity of the individual.

    The UKPS has been supporting the work of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to develop international standards for biometric deployment. ICAO nominated facial recognition as the primary biometric for travel documents with iris pattern and fingerprint as secondary but not mandatory.

    In line with ICAO recommendations, the UKPS will deploy contactless integrated circuit media (i.e. a computer chip) of sufficient capacity to facilitate storage of the facial image and at least one additional biometric identifier. A contactless chip includes an aerial to allow close proximity readings, i.e. without being swiped through a reader. Modern contactless chips are paper-thin and therefore particularly suited to being incorporated in passport books or passport identity cards

    ...And here's the view from Planet Blunkett.
    posted by Alun , 1:53 PM Þ 
    posted by meau meau , 1:35 PM Þ 

    Andrew Denton: ...Members of your band, Spearhead, have also been investigated. What's happened?

    Michael Franti: One of our members of our band has a sister who's in the military and his mother was visited by some military intelligence officers, who had a dossier of us performing at various political demonstrations. And they had his flight records, they wanted to know why he'd been to Japan twice in the last month, they wanted to know who he had written cheques to, they had all his chequing account records. And basically, again, I don't feel like we're being singled out. I feel like that we're the first group to become aware of what's happening. Anybody who is beginning to speak out, either an artist or an organiser, against the war and in favour of peace is starting to make little blips on the radar and they're starting to take pictures.

    Andrew Denton: What is suspicious about going to Japan?

    Michael Franti: I don't...I haven't quite figured that out either. But maybe he's going to team up with Godzilla! The world's biggest act of terror. I don't know!

    more here
    posted by meau meau , 1:28 PM Þ 
    posted by Alun , 12:24 PM Þ 

    Privacy Villain of the Week:
    'Registered Traveler' enablers

    The Transportation Security Administration announced last week that it will be initiating a pilot test program of its long-touted "trusted traveler,' now rechristened 'registered traveler' program. The program will be a 'voluntary' (at the outset, anyway) internal biometric passport system set up at airports around the country.

    The idea is being sold to potential volunteers on the basis that turning over your iris-scan to the Department of Homeland Security will allow you to go through a less harassing experience at the airport.
    How effective this will be at lessening hassle is unclear, however. The majority of the hassle at the airports for travelers comes at the metal detector gauntlet where air travel consumers must remove coats, keys, often shoes, take their laptop from its case, etc. Yet a TSA spokesman told Wired News, "the card is not a 'get out of security checks' card, and that those who register will still have to go through metal detectors. The program may, however, create designated lanes to speed registered travelers past long lines.",1848,62777,00.html

    Additionally, with the TSA insisting on pushing the CAPPS II passenger screening program, all of them will undergo a background check every time they buy an air ticket anyway. So the value of the background check a "trusted traveler" goes through is unclear. Even if he has already turned his iris over to Sec. Ridge, any future 'anomaly' in his credit or phone records could conceivably put him into the special scrutiny category that entails more invasive searches.

    On the other hand, if TSA is being disingenuous and those who get the cards will undergo very little scrutiny, the system would be ripe for abuse, particularly by anyone with connections on the inside.

    Given all this, it is unclear what the usefulness of the card will be, beyond establishing a biometric database for the federal government. The only practical effect would seem to be harassment of those who do not wish to be scanned and traced, since they will have to wait in longer lines to go through identical search procedures.

    With what little information that has been put out by TSA so far, the program seems to be little more than a backdoor to a national biometrically-enabled ID program.

    And the required privacy notices for the program have not been issued by TSA, which says they "may not" apply since the program is voluntary. The dearth of information leaves air travelers even more in the dark as to what may lie ahead.

    Government's one-size-fits-all programs typically degenerate into one-size-fits-none, and security is no different. There may be a place for similar programs in a free and private air travel and air security market. But TSA is determined that command-and-control supplant market processes. Anyone who volunteers to be guinea pigs for this odd privacy-destroying program should think twice. There is nothing to indicate that surrendering privacy will lead to anything resembling more security under such a program. TSA hopes to get 5,000 volunteers for the pilot program. Don't do it. We don't need 5,000 unwitting privacy villains cultivating this process which deserves to die on the vine.

    By James Plummer

    The Privacy Villain of the Week and Privacy Hero of the Month are projects of the National Consumer Coalition's Privacy Group. Privacy Villain audio features occasionally available from FCF News on Demand. For more information on the NCC Privacy Group, see or contact James Plummer at 202-467-5809 or via email. This release available online at [...]

    "Enabler" also means anyone who signs up for this atrocity. If no one signs up for it, it will die on its feet. The same goes for all ID cards and Biometric Net measures.
    posted by Irdial , 12:21 PM Þ 

    Boahn, bahn in tha fehf-tez
    Boahn, bahn in tha fehhhhhf----tez
    Boahn, bahn in tha fehf-tez
    Boahn, bahn in tha fehhhhhf----tez
    posted by captain davros , 12:19 PM Þ 


    I can foresee RFID 'protection' for credit cards - although you could keep transaction information limited to the bank, If you take your card to the airport the RFID transmission from the card could be logged on the ID database as supporting information. That way the authorities could simply track the RFID of your credit card in designated areas and still know exactly where you were, even without 'official' ID or even requiring the details of card transactions. If they did take against you for some reason the RIP approved companies could go to the bank and request transaction details for the card. The authorities would argue the RIP company has no knowledge of the card holder's identity, just the card number and so that activity would not infringe your privacy.

    But they'd be wrong of course.
    posted by meau meau , 11:32 AM Þ 

    First of all, the role of an Airport will change dramatically. I will explain how it could be...Your passport is scanned, and...You are immediately arrested thanks to a reciprocal arrangement between the Bundesflic and New York’s Finest.

    That's far too C20 an airport would be a specially designated building which would RFID receivers hard-wired into the Building Control System, your traveller would enter the building and their RFID transmission would automatically activate a search of their records, this would produce a hit and they would be flagged before they even get to the flight desk. The security take you to their interview room...

    It would be feasible to track RFID positions within the building, so too long in the toilets could result in an invasive body search. In addition the number of visitors could be logged as they enter and leave so if you were counted in and did not correlate this with an RFID hit you would also be called to the interview room to justify your visit, this would cause severe difficulties for citizens of countries which do not adopt RFID/Bio measures.

    In our 'secure' world any public building zone could be a designated area - after all RFID/biometrics have already been proposed in driving licences as an option - open only to the 'right sort of citizen' - the compliant jellyfish.
    posted by meau meau , 10:15 AM Þ 
    posted by Irdial , 9:02 AM Þ 
    posted by Irdial , 8:38 AM Þ 

    Blood Klaaatu tu

    An early morning rasta sci-fi russo-pop triplet for you!
    posted by Irdial , 8:32 AM Þ 

    Did you mean: Klaatu type robot
    posted by alex_tea , 7:54 AM Þ 

    Hmmmm what I meant was a Klatuu type robot, to whom all responsibility for enforcing the law was irrevocably given just like it is in the movie.

    "What movie?" I hear you cry.

    Use Google I reply.
    posted by Irdial , 7:38 AM Þ 

    and the operators of the backend systems were Klatuu type robots who were infallible
    An infallible robot is absolutely impossible. Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems prove that. What if you hand a Ultimate Truth machine a slip that says "The Ultimate Truth machine will not say that this slip is true?"

    very good articles, mr irdial.
    posted by Barrie , 6:57 AM Þ 
    Monday, March 29, 2004


    When you do anything needing authentication, you can be asked to authenticate yourself, either with your passport or your European standardised Biometric Net card. For example, when you go to any big hotel, reception will scan your passport upon registration. Since all of these scans and the associated collected data, like what you ate during your stay in the hotel, or where you rented your car or bought that SIM card (and thereafter, all the calls you made on that number) will be collected against your Biometric Net Data, and since all of these will be held in publicly owned databases which will be for sale, when you enter an airport in another country, they will be able to access all of this at the speed of Google. If you buy "a lot" of booze, they will know this. If you buy pr0n, they will know this.

    If you are a man that is married to a man, they will know this.

    The british government has already said that it will keep a record of every time the proposed ID card is used to form an audit trail. This too will be available to any government that wants it.

    Of course, all of this will be available to anyone with enough money to bribe someone to access to a terminal.

    Think about it.

    On a related note:

    I know someone who was trying to find out why his mobile phone could not call France. He called the operator, and asked if there was something wrong with his account (which is a pay as you go account). Here is how the conversation went.

    She asked for the number he was calling, and he gave it.

    She said that there was nothing wrong with the account.

    Frustrated, he told a fib to get her to look harder at the problem; he said,

    "it was working yesterday when I called the same number!"

    She replied, “What time did you make that call?"

    "11am-ish" came the reply.

    She said, "there is no record of you calling that number yesterday at that time sir".


    This means that 02’s non-supervisor level operators have access to a list of numbers you have dialled when you use one of their pay-as-you-go cards!

    Think about THAT.
    posted by Irdial , 11:05 PM Þ 

    Phonographic Industry Reactionaries Augment Tyrannical Enterprises
    Politicians' Ignorance Really Annoys The Electorate
    Payed Into Recorders' Accounts: Terrible Extortions
    Philistine Indoctrinators Retaliate Against Their Extinction
    P2p Isn't "Robbing Artists' Tradable Excreta"
    Programs Involving Redistribution Are Threatened Eviction
    "Product" Is Rarely Attributable To Enlightenment
    Proposing Imposing Regimentation Actually Threatens Egalitarianism
    Produce Interesting Recordings And They'll Empathise
    Prosecuting Innocents (Reacting Against Their Emancipation)
    posted by meau meau , 7:57 PM Þ 

    That privacy international release made me sick to my stomach.

    Some interesting things will happen in the future if this comes to pass.

    First of all, the role of an Airport will change dramatically. I will explain how it could be.

    Lets say that you own a car. You are going on a round the world trip, and you leave your car parked somewhere in NYC, perfectly legally. Whilst you are gone, the parking conditions change, and you get a ticket. You are not around to pay it. The fine doubles every week that you don’t pay it. Eventually, an arrest warrant is issued for you because you have not paid this ticket.

    As a part of your worldwide trip, you enter Germany the day after your arrest warrant was issued.

    The magic starts to happen.

    Your passport is scanned, and "at the speed of Google", they search for your biometric information against the one billion entries in every country that uses biometrics for their criminal and passport records. You are flagged as having an arrest warrant issued for you in New York City. You are immediately arrested thanks to a reciprocal arrangement between the Bundesflic and New York’s Finest.

    Now, this sort of thing happens a lot at airports. They are not only places where people disembark from airplanes, they are also places where people are held for deportation when they are flagged up in the international "Biometric Net". Many tens of thousands are languishing in airports all over the globe, which is perfectly legal thanks to the new laws allowing indefinite detention pending fast track justice or extradition.

    Airports are prisons; they are nets used to catch people for the slightest infraction. You think that the squalor of the detention centres at Calais are horrible, imagine being held in limbo for years because you have forgotten to pay some swinging tax or were not in town to vote.

    This is precisely what will have to happen, otherwise, the recieving country will either have to let you in, a known criminal, or, they will have to immediately deport you, which will not always be possible. Airports will have to create massive holding facilities for the hundreds of people they will catch each day.

    Of course, the same will follow for everyone that enters an airport wishing to escape get away on vacation. In those places where you are manditorially swiped to exit the country, you face instant detention if they find that you are a transgressor. Certainly, no airline will risk taking you anywhere if the burden of shipping you back to your place of origin is placed on them, should any transgression be found on the Biometric Net.

    All of this will happen to you even if you have done nothing, because the system will be open to abuse and attack, not to mention that biometric techniques are imperfect and prone to misidentification. Of course, there is the issue of what different jurisdictions consider "nothing" to be. Not being vaccinated is certainly not "nothing" in some places. Having a blog where you rant might not be considered "nothing" in other places. Right now, saying that you want to sh00+ th3 pres|d3 /\/ + is enough to get Moulder & Scully to pay you a visit at home. Lets not even talk about file sharing. They will be able to find and correlate everything about you with the Biometric Net, and this should bother you.

    Even if biometrics were capable of delivering 100% reliability, and the operators of the backend systems were Klatuu type robots who were infallible, the idea that this Biometric Net is being created is fundamentally wrong. Human beings are not cattle to be numbered; and we all know what happened the last time people were numbered in this way.

    I for one have already pledged that I will not allow myself to be put in this database. I will not support any government that has a hand in creating this Biometric Net, and if you have any shred of decency left in you, you will also refuse to be herded in this appallingly dehumanizing project.

    Finally, it should be of great interest to the curious just who is going to profit from the billions of biometric data that are going to be harvested every year. Who is going to profit from the management of the information? Whoever they are, they have tentacles reaching into the highest levels of every government on earth; this is the only way that such a project could be engineered.

    Also, the way in which the American public has failed to understand that they will either have to be biometrically scanned by their own government or scanned in everyone elses government is very curious indeed. It is also most curious that they have not understood that fundamentally, once this project starts the data of Americans will be stored all over the world against their will, forever, in unaccountable databases run by non-Americans

    Just for the curious.
    posted by Irdial , 7:46 PM Þ 


    In my head all darn day...
    667: Neighbour of the beast

    Whiling waking hours, hackneyed Hackney residents relaxed, only their collection of ghosts and the afterimage of the sun on their retinas for company, drifting dangerously under, under, under, Under Milk Wood. What'll the neighbours say? What'll the neighbours...

    Under Milk Wood is such a wonderfully visual experience...
    posted by Alun , 7:02 PM Þ 

    posted by alex_tea , 6:53 PM Þ 



    Files & Biometric Identifiers on More Than a Billion Passengers to be Computerised and Shared Globally by 2015

    Civil rights groups warn of grave dangers in international biometric passport system.

    29th March 2004

    Embargo: 22.00 hrs GMT, 29th March 2004

    A wide range of privacy, human rights & civil liberties organisations throughout the world have signed an open letter expressing grave concerns over a global biometric identity system being established on behalf of governments by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

    The letter, spearheaded by Privacy International and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) raises concerns about little-known plans to imminently create international standards that will require the use of biometrics and RFID (radio frequency) technology in all future passports. The measures, being decided this week at a meeting of the ICAO in Cairo, will esult in a distributed international identification database on all passport holders.

    The open letter has been signed by, among others, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Statewatch, the UK based Foundation for Information Policy Research, the Association for Progressive Communications and the US based Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

    The ICAO has agreed that the initial international biometric standard for passports will be facial mapping. Adequate memory space in newly issued passports will be reserved for additional biometrics such as fingerprinting at the discretion of every government. The EU is already calling for fingerprints to be included, along with an associated European register of all biometrics. National authorities will store and share these vast data reserves.

    The measures, supported by the US and the EU, will ultimately create an electronic ID system on hundreds of millions of travellers. Despite serious implications for privacy and personal security, the process is occurring without public engagement or debate. Rather than allowing this important issue to be decided by parliaments, governments have delegated the setting of standards to the ICAO, a UN-level organization that is responsible for the standardization of travel documents, passenger data systems and air travel requirements.

    The legislative drivers for the ICAO system are already in pace. The USA-PATRIOT Act, passed by the U.S. Congress after the events of September 2001 included the requirement that the President certify a biometric technology standard for use in identifying aliens seeking admission into the U.S., within two years. The schedule for its implementation was accelerated by another piece of legislation, the little known Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act 2002. Part of this second law included seeking international co-operation with this standard. The incentive to international co-operation was made clear:

    "By October 26, 2004, in order for a country to remain eligible for participation in the visa waiver program its government must certify that it has a program to issue to its nationals machine-readable passports that are tamper-resistant and which incorporate biometric and authentication identifiers that satisfy the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)."

    These laws gave momentum to the standards that were being considered at the ICAO by requiring visa waiver countries (which include many EU countries, Australia, Brunei, Iceland, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, and Slovenia) to implement biometrics into their Machine-Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs), i.e. passports.

    Based on projections from current passport and travel statistics, biometric details of more than a billion people will be electronically stored by 2015. Some of the countries sampled for this estimate are:

    United States 90 million
    United Kingdom 54 million
    Japan 64 million
    Canada 24 million
    Australia 13 million
    Russian Federation 50 million
    Ireland 4 million
    Taiwan 17 million
    China 60 million

    The Privacy International open letter warns:

    "We are increasingly concerned that the biometric travel document initiative is part and parcel of a larger surveillance infrastructure monitoring the movement of individuals globally that includes Passenger-Name Record transfers, API systems and the creation of an intergovernmental network of interoperable electronic data systems to facilitate access to each country's law enforcement and intelligence information."

    Privacy International has warned of "unprecedented" security threats that could arise from the plan because of potential access by terrorists and organised crime. Furthermore, the biometric standard being adopted is "fundamentally flawed" and will result in a substantial number of passengers being falsely identified as potential terrorists or wrongly accused of holding fraudulent passports.

    Dr Gus Hosein, Senior Fellow with Privacy International, warned: "This is a potentially perilous plan. The ICAO must go back to the drawing board or hold itself responsible for creating the first truly global biometric database".

    "Governments may claim that they are under an international obligation to create national databases of fingerprints and face scans but we will soon see nations with appalling human rights records generating massive databases, and then requiring our own fingerprints and face-scans as we travel."

    He continued: "In January 2004 when the U.S. began fingerprinting and face-scanning foreign visitors and storing this data for over fifty years under the US-VISIT program, many countries responded with alarm. With the biometric passport, however, every country may have its own surveillance system, accumulating fingerprints and face-scans and keeping them for as long as they wish with no regard to privacy or civil liberties."


    Notes to editors:

    The open letter is available at and a background information package is available at html

    Contact Information:

    Simon Davies, Director Privacy International, +44 (0)7958 466 552 email

    Gus Hosein, Senior Fellow Privacy International, +44 (0)20 7955 6403 email

    Passport statistics and projections have been derived from the following sources:

    United States:
    United Kingdom:
    Japan: 2995
    Russian Federation:

    - Privacy International (PI) is a human rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance by governments and corporations. PI is based in London, and has an office in Washington, D.C. Together with members in 40 countries, PI has conducted campaigns throughout the world on issues ranging from wiretapping and national security activities, to ID cards, video surveillance, data matching, police information systems, and medical privacy, and works with a wide range of parliamentary and inter-governmental organisations such as the European Parliament, the House of Lords and UNESCO.
    posted by Irdial , 5:52 PM Þ 

    Congress Moves to Criminalize P2P
    By Xeni Jardin
    Wired News, Mar. 26, 2004 PT

    Congress appears to be preparing assaults against peer-to-peer
    technology on multiple fronts.

    A draft bill recently circulated among members of the House judiciary
    committee would make it much easier for the Justice Department to pursue
    criminal prosecutions against file sharers by lowering the burden of
    proof. The bill, obtained Thursday by Wired News, also would seek
    penalties of fines and prison time of up to ten years for file sharing.

    In addition, on Thursday, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy
    (D-Vermont) introduced a bill that would allow the Justice Department to
    pursue civil cases against file sharers, again making it easier for law
    enforcement to punish people trading copyright music over peer-to-peer
    networks. They dubbed the bill "Protecting Intellectual Rights Against
    Theft and Expropriation Act of 2004," or the Pirate Act...

    All these efforts by Congress to impose severe penalties are misguided,
    said P2P United Executive Director Adam Eisgrau.

    "As the 40 percent increase in downloads over the last year makes
    alarmingly clear, like it or not file sharing is likely to (continue) on
    a massive scale no matter how many suits are brought and what the fine
    print of copyright or criminal law says," Eisgrau said. "Second, putting
    a tiny percentage of tens of millions of American file sharers behind
    bars or in the poorhouse won't put one new dime in the deserving pockets
    of artists and other copyright owners.",1412,62830,00.html

    Pathetic Impotent Republicans Actively Testing Everyonespatience
    Poor Ignorant Retards Attaching True Evil
    Pandemically Infected Rats Aspirating Tepid Ecoli

    I expect only THE BEST substitute acronyms from the BLOGDIAL intelligencia.
    posted by Irdial , 5:39 PM Þ 
    posted by Alison , 12:59 PM Þ 
    posted by Irdial , 12:29 PM Þ 

    Aisha Mohammed New mother

    Last month Aisha Mohammed, from north-west London, was in the hospital with a kidney problem, 16 days after the birth of her daughter Hauwa, when six police officers arrived at the door of her ward and handcuffed her.

    "I had just put my baby down in another ward and was going back to my own room to have a lie-down as I was feeling so bad," Ms Mohammed.

    "A nurse argued with them that I was ill and could not be discharged but they insisted I must go with them. The one female officer followed me into my room and I had to get changed in front of her.

    "I was in terrible pain but they took me to the police station, where they took my belongings and said they would throw me in a cell. I was really frightened."

    She did not understand why they had arrested her at first but it soon became clear it was over a dispute she had had with a neighbour some time ago, which had already been dismissed by a judge.

    "I was in the police station an hour and a half and when I got back to the hospital social services had taken my baby and I had to go and get her back.

    "I was crying all the time. I was worried about my baby, I was in pain and I didn't understand what was going on. Only one policeman said sorry. But they made me feel dirty, like a criminal, like a piece of shit. I think it was racist, because I am Muslim." [...]

    If that was your momz, what would you feel?,12780,1180063,00.html
    posted by Irdial , 10:03 AM Þ 
    Sunday, March 28, 2004

    Couples will have rights to pensions similar to married couples, will not have to pay inheritance tax on property passed between them when one dies [...]

    The price for this is total submission to the state. A tad expensive.

    and will have access to hospital records similar to that allowed for a spouse. [...]

    You can make your hospital records available to whoever you want as long as you do it in writing, in advance. If you want everything to be done for you automatically and by the state, then you ask for what has just been given. If you want to be in control of your own life, you plan in advance, make provisions and keep the state out of your affairs.

    The distress caused by the lack of rights for gay couples was highlighted by Trevor Bentham, who lived for 22 years with the actor Sir Nigel Hawthorne. Bentham had to pay a six-figure tax bill on Sir Nigel's half-share of their home, a 15th-century manor house in Hertfordshire, when the Yes Minister actor died. [...]

    He would not have had to pay anything if the property was held by a holding company, shares in which were owned by the two parties.

    Couples who then want to split will have to go through a dissolution in the courts, similar to a divorce. If there are children, maintenace payments will have to agreed. [...]

    They are now sanctioned and controlled by what the courts want. Idiots!
    posted by Irdial , 2:51 PM Þ is an online betting exchange for binary bets.

    A binary bet is a unique way of trading the financial markets without exposing yourself to unlimited losses. A binary bet is a spread bet married to a fixed odds bet. It is called a "binary" bet because there are only two outcomes of the bet, either 0 or 100. The bet settles at 0 if the event does not occur and at 100 if the event does occur. works like a stock exchange but caters for binary bets. It gives the user the opportunity to make their own market and offer it to other clients of the exchange. It is a marketplace where traders meet and trade the financial markets, whether it is stocks, indices or currencies. gives you the opportunity to create your own prices and have them matched against buyers and sellers in the market. [...]
    posted by Irdial , 2:40 PM Þ 

    Someone almost clever said:

    I am angry and depressed today.

    I've always been a patriotic American, I've always loved my country. Some of my earliest memories are of reading the Declaration of Independence and children's histories of the War for Independence.

    As part of that patriotism I've also tried, from a young age, not to blind myself to my country's failures to live up to its ideals: slavery, Jim Crow, internment of the Japanese, Joe McCarthy are all thing I've spent a lot of time abhorring -- my list of "never agains".

    Today is another day that history will see as a black mark on the conscience of America: Thomas Butler was sentenced to two years in prison today.

    Thomas Butler -- Doctor Thomas Butler -- was one of this country's foremost researchers into Yesina pestis, better known as the "Black Plague". When 30 vials of Black Plague went missing from his laboratory, Dr. Butler informed the FBI and cooperated with the investigation. When the FBI and prosecutors decided they needed a scapegoat -- possibly because the disappearance was widely publicized -- Dr. Butler was arrested.

    When Dr. Butler refused to lie by accepting a plea bargain, the prosecutor, apparently in order to force a plea bargain and save face, piled on 57 charges, most of them having nothing to do with the missing vials of Black Plague. The other charges involved Dr. Butler's compensation for work outside his university; the prosecutor alleged these contracts deprived the university of money, even though such contracts are commonplace at the university.

    In January, Dr. Butler was convinced. The jury acquitted Dr. Butler on the main charges of smuggling Black Plague. The charges for which he was convicted were incorrectly filling out a Federal Express form by characterizing plague samples as "laboratory materials" rather than "commercial merchandise", and charges related to the contracts. Incredibly, the jury convicted Dr. Butler on 44 of those charges, but found him not guilty on 10 others -- for precisely the same kind of contracts. Clearly, we have a case here where the jury was trying to split the difference.

    And again, no one has ever been prosecuted before for these very common contractual arrangements -- this is purely a case of the prosecutor piling on charges in order to get a conviction on something even if that conviction has nothing to do with the original grounds for the arrest.

    If you consider yourself a patriot -- if you plan to exercise your right to vote this November -- you owe it to yourself and you owe it to your country to read Dr. Thomas Lehman's account of Dr. Butler's trial and conviction. Dr. Lehman, a university scientist himself, is familiar with the contracts over which Dr. Butler was convicted -- and make sit clear what a horrifying farce this has been.

    And then you need to get angry. Angry that one of the best researchers into bio-terrorism will spend the next two years in prison -- and will be barred from research the rest of his life. Angry that that makes you not more safe, but far less safe, because Al Quida's researchers are not in jail.

    But more fundamentally, angry that the American "Justice" system is a farce that send innocent men to jail in order to save face for overzealous cops and prosecutors.
    posted by Irdial , 12:39 PM Þ 

    posted by a hymn in g to nann , 10:15 AM Þ 
    posted by Irdial , 12:18 AM Þ 

    Giant X-ray used in drugs search
    The x-ray machine shows up anything hidden under clothes
    A 7ft-tall X-ray machine was used for the first time by police who arrested 35 people during a raid on two pubs in north-west London.

    More than 400 officers took part in the operation to scan suspects for drugs and weapons in Harlesden High Street.

    Equipment was brought in on articulated lorries on Friday night, and suspects had the choice of being strip-searched or scanned. [...]

    Hmmm invasive body search BEFORE arrest?! by all means, have these machines in the police station to search people AFTER they are arrested, but you CANNOT have mobile scanners in trucks mass x-raying people in a "drugs sweep"!
    posted by Irdial , 12:04 AM Þ 

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