Day: May 10, 2003

Are aliens hiding their messages?

“If we are not alone in the Universe, why have we never picked up signals from an extraterrestrial civilisation? This long-standing puzzle, known as the Fermi paradox after physicist Enrico Fermi, who first posed the question, is still one of the strongest arguments against the existence of intelligent aliens.


But two physicists have come up with an intriguing solution. They suggest a way in which aliens could send messages to each other across space that not only disguises their locations but also makes it impossible for a casual observer to even distinguish the messages from background noise. Messages sent by this method could be criss-crossing our Galaxy without us ever knowing.


At first glance, sending a message without giving away your location appears impossible. If a signal – a stream of photons – comes from a single source, its origin can always be determined by measuring the direction of recoil of a detector struck by the photons. But Walter Simmons and his colleague Sandip Pakvasa from the University of Hawaii at Manoa have come up with a cunning way around this.” New Scientist [via EurekAlert!]

[It doesn’t seem very plausible to me; read the article. “I want to believe…”]

The two faces of Rumsfeld:

2000: director of a company which wins $200m contract to sell nuclear reactors to North Korea


2002: declares North Korea a terrorist state, part of the axis of evil and a target for regime change

Rumsfeld’s spokesperson says the Defense Secretary just “does not recall” the issue coming before the board back then. ‘ “One could draw the conclusion that economic and personal interests took precedent over non-proliferation,” said Steve LaMontagne, an analyst with the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington.’ Guardian/UK

The NYPD’s New Beat:

Who do you hire to police a country recently ruled by a neo-Stalinist dictator, whose cops were little more than thugs with badges, and whose army was recently at war with the very forces now issuing their marching orders? If you’re the U.S. State Department looking to police Iraq, you hire Dyncorp, a scandal-ridden U.S. military contractor with ties to the CIA and the NYPD.

Much controversy surrounds the recent $22 million contract awarded to Dyncorp Aerospace Operations (UK) Ltd. to “re-establish police, justice, and prison functions” in Iraq. Over the past decade, Dyncorp has been accused of everything from running an illegal sex ring in Bosnia to killing children in Equador as part of “Plan Colombia.”

The company is also under fire for its connections to the strife-wracked NYPD.

According to the New York Post, “The State Department is looking for present and former NYPD cops willing to help restore order to Iraq by rebuilding and training new police departments.” Though the search is nationwide, the article reports that Dyncorp, which is spearheading the search, is “especially interested in [hiring] present and former Big Apple law enforcers.” The estimated salary for the officers is $80,000 a year.

Yet an NYPD deployment to Iraq would be only the latest international adventure for what is rapidly becoming the world’s leading globalized police force. Indypendent

Bin Laden resurgent in Saudi Arabia?

“The insistent claim of traditionally secretive Saudi authorities that a series of violent incidents across the Kingdom in recent months was the work of criminal gangs is becoming extremely threadbare.

With the assassination of a district police chief in the northern province of al-Jawf, a hotbed of Islamic opposition to the monarchy, on 20 April it seems to be increasingly clear that the violence is politically motivated, in all likelihood by supporters of Osama bin Laden.” Foreign Report [via Jane’s]

The Korea Crisis

‘North Korea belongs in the axis of evil.’ Not. “North Korea is not crazy, near collapse, nor about to start a war. But it is dangerous, not to mention dangerously misunderstood. Defusing the threat that North Korea poses to its neighbors and the world will require less bluster, more patience, and a willingness on the part of the United States to probe and understand the true sources of the North’s conduct.” Foreign Policy Debunks the platitudes and myths one after another.

Where is the Outrage?

From Cursor:

“As autopsy findings indicate that a British cameraman killed last week was shot dead by Israeli soldiers, the Israeli military begins requiring foreigners entering the Gaza Strip to sign waivers absolving the army from responsibility if it shoots them Guardian/UK. They must also declare that they are not peace activists and are not part of the International Solidarity Movement.


Antonia Zerbisias asks: ‘Where is the outrage over activists’ death?’ A Google News search of Rachel Corrie (dead), Tom Hurndall (clinically dead) and Brian Avery (face shot off), shows that almost all of the coverage is coming from outside of America’s mainstream media.”

Concert CD’s Sold on the Spot by a Radio Giant:

“Clear Channel Communications, the radio broadcasting and concert promotion giant, plans to introduce a venture today that will sell live recordings on compact disc within five minutes of a show’s conclusion. The venture, Instant Live, will enable a band’s still-sweating fans to leave with a musical souvenir instead of say, a pricey T-shirt or a glossy program.” NY Times

Related: HearItAgain.net ‘offers offer high quality, unedited recordings of various concerts from throughout the world. HearItAgain.net was created by fans for fans so concert goers can literally “Take The Concert Home”.’ Concerts are offered in mp3 format. It looks like, so far, their catalogue consists only of two Frank Black and the Catholics shows, which are priced at $11.95.

It’s the Ferocity, Stupid:

How Democrats Can Beat Bush in 2004:

Michael S. Dukakis served with honor in the U.S. Army for two years. Three decades later, he was ridiculed for riding in a tank while wearing a helmet and a goofy grin. George W. Bush, a simian-faced draft dodger, hitches a ride to an aircraft carrier decked out in full “Top Gun” regalia and CNN calls dubs him our “warrior president.”


Life isn’t fair to the Democrats. No matter how much they suck up to corporate CEOs, they can’t compete for contributions with Republicans who invite their backers to write legislation. Most registered voters are Democrats, but too many are disloyal swing voters and apathetic no-shows to assure victory. And even when Dems do win the most votes, cheating Republicans bully their way into office.


As things stand, Dems seem poised to get their collective ass kicked in ’04. While unified Republicans aren’t even bothering to hold presidential primaries next year, nine small-time Democrats are vying for the chance to take on a ruthless incumbent with bottomless pockets. Democratic frontrunners include Joe Lieberman, a wet-lipped whiner, right-wing even by Republican standards; John Kerry, a wild-eyed, helmet-haired war waffler doomed to Dukakian disaster in November; and John Edwards, a rich southerner capable of beating Bush if DNC insiders could see past his dark trial lawyer past. But it’s still early. Hard as it is to believe now, one of these guys could win. After all, Bill Clinton emerged from a similar clutch–the “seven dwarves”–in 1992. — Ted Rall, Yahoo!

Also: The Moral Imperative: “(UCBerkeley linguistics professor) George Lakoff says that conservatives know how to influence voters, and Democrats haven’t a clue. It’s all in their language.” TomPaine

Aliens in our own land

“The United States of America that we thought we knew is gone, finished, kaput and we only have ourselves to blame.

Most of our fellow citizens, who continue to mouth platitudes to freedom and democracy, have not yet been bitten by the police state that grows more powerful by the day with the blessings of Republicans and Democrats alike.

We no longer have a country that operates on the consent of the governed, if, indeed, we ever did. But we did have the illusion, perhaps foolishly so in the face of the reality that has come to pass. We the people are now superfluous to the decisions made by the ruling elite in Washington, the state houses and city hall…” — Bev Conover, Online Journal

Going After Iran:

With Saddam Hussein’s regime in ashes and Syria threatened into at least temporary compliance, Iran is simply next on the list. And, say what you want about the neocons and their bid to remake the Middle East, they are nothing if not methodical.

(…)

For now, though, Ledeen and his compatriots in the White House don’t seem to be contemplating an invasion of Iran. Rather, they’ve discovered that the United Nations may have its uses after all. Now, US officials are pressing the UN to declare Iran in breach of a global nuclear arms treaty, alleging that Iran has been secretly producing enriched uranium at one of its power plants. The US is pushing for enhanced inspections that would rein in Iran’s program. In fact, while much about Iran’s weapons program is still unknown, it does appear to be farther along in its quest for nuclear arms than Iraq ever was during the last decade. As the New York Times Steven Weisman reports, that’s cause for alarm in Washington and Tel Aviv.


(…)


The US has also been trying to convince erstwhile allies Russia, France, and Germany to put pressure on Iran. Not surprisingly, Washington hasn’t had much luck with this tactic yet. “Very sound evidence is needed to accuse anyone. So far, neither the United States nor any other countries can present it,” a Russian official said yesterday. Mother Jones

From Poker to Prayer:

Gamble on Buddha:

A casino may seem a strange place for a Buddhist epiphany.


But for David Everard now known as the Venerable Kelsang Lodro, a teacher of Kadampa Buddhism at the Heruka Buddhist Centre in Woodstock Road, Golders Green the time he spent as a croupier was instrumental in his journey of spiritual enlightenment.


“It was about 15 years ago, when I was 32. I was a croupier and a gaming inspector in casinos. Obviously, when you come into contact with the incredibly rich, you soon realise money doesn’t bring happiness some of the most miserable people in the world are very rich,” he said.

The 77 Percent Solution:

…Can you think of anything more preposterous – and dangerous – than determining matters of war and peace based on public opinion surveys? Yet all indications are that Bush and chief strategist Rove are chronic poll watchers and takers. A scary thought when you consider how consistently unreliable polls turn out to be.

(…)

(W)ith their plummeting response rates, laughably small samplings and precision-flouting margins of error, these things are becoming less reliable than Rob on “Survivor: The Amazon” – and take a closer look at the latest numbers. You’ll see that the president isn’t flying anywhere near as high as Karl Rove would like us to believe. — Arianna Huffington, AlterNet

(More) Lies About Iraq:

“For weeks, we have been hearing breathless media reports of possible discoveries of chemical and biological weapons by U.S. and British troops in Iraq. Within hours or days, if one scours the back pages of the newspaper, he finds that it was merely another false alarm. But what is never mentioned is that these weapons, made five, ten or fifteen years ago, are almost certainly unusable, having long since passed their stable shelf-life, according to the Department of Defense’s own documents based on a decade of international inspections, electronic surveillance and information supplied by spies and defectors.” — Cliff Montgomery, AlterNet

Sheryl Crow Made a Mix Tape for You –

but do you really want to hear what’s on it? “Do celebrated pop stars really have better, more revealing, or more wide-ranging taste than a run-of-the-mill music fan?”

It’s the sort of stuff you might hear playing in the background at Walgreens—or maybe these are themes from several generations of eighth-grade dances. Scan the list of titles and artists, and you feel as if you’d heard it without even putting the disc on. Sort of like Crow’s music.

Slate

Judge Awards $104M to Kin of 9-11 Victims.

The headline doesn’t hint at what makes this newsworthy. Among others, the judge ruled that Saddam Hussein and the government of Iraq were liable for the damages given evidence they had responsibility for the terrorist attacks. Do you suppose the judge sees this case as a stepping stone to higher political aspirations in a GOP Washington?

Can you tell someone’s political stripes from the cars over which they gush?

I’m not talking about SUVs. Even though they’ve become so politically incorrect, especially after Arianna Huffington tied them to American imperialist urges Salon, many people who consider themselves Green justify — or don’t even try to — driving them (although I had to give Huffington’s thesis a second glance when I saw the pitiful stories profiling Hummer owners’ — mostly with cowboy hats, if I remember correctly — chauvinistic hauteur about driving the vehicle in which the U.S. forces were tearing across the sands toward Baghdad…). //www.autointell.net/nao_companies/daimlerchrysler/chrysler/chrysler-300c/chrysler300c-icon-02-25.jpg' cannot be displayed]

But to gush over this, more Cadillac than Cadillac, as Mickey Kaus does here Slate, surely shows one’s true stripes. They even boast that it has rear-wheel drive. Kaus (when did he add gearheading to his political commentator resumé?) wrote this column last month touting the superior performance of rear-wheel drive, which seems almost entirely based on how a car feels when you muscle it through a power turn too fast and whether it is better to lose control front-first or rear-first. Would a neo-con, however, be troubled by the fact that we’re talking here about a Chrysler? You know, controlled by those antiwar Germans at Daimler? Coming full circle, Kaus’ RWD column suggests that the SUV boom has been due to the fact that they are RWD. By the way, some people (31 at last count) are so incensed about Kaus’ automotive writing they’ve mounted an online petition to shut him up.