Monday, May 28, 2007

National Guard for the 'Net

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has called for a national volunteer organization of trained and well-coordinated units of IT professionals from U.S. technology companies. Tasked to quickly recreate and repair compromised communications and technology infrastructures during national emergencies.


"What this country needs is essentially a technology equivalent of the National Guard: a National Emergency Technology Guard - NET Guard - that in times of crisis would be in a position to mobilize our nation's information technology, or IT, community to action quickly, just as the National Guard is ready to move during emergencies."

Salem seeks standard test for psychics

City councilors are trying to set up a bar exam for local psychics, to control the rampant flow of unlicensed, unscreened, and oddly enough, untrustworthy amount of clairvoyants new to the city.

from the Salem News:

"There has to be criteria or you're going to get garbage coming here," Barbara Szafranski, the owner of Angelica of the Angels, predicted. "Everybody here is a legitimate person who's worked for years and years. ... When you do a reading, you hold a person's life right in your hands. We have people come to us who are willing to commit suicide, who won't go to a psychiatrist, so they come to us."

"What are the criteria?" asked a baffled Councilor-at-large Joan Lovely. "Is there schooling?"

Friday, May 25, 2007

Police can raid your home without "absolute certainty"

Cops can force you out of bed, point guns at you (while you're naked), and look for seven guys who haven't lived there for three months. They can do this, and not violate your rights.

I'm putting in a moat.

from the Los Angeles Times:

In December 2001, Los Angeles County sheriffs were looking for four black suspects in an identity-theft scheme. One of them was known to have a gun. When the deputies set out to raid a home in Lancaster, they did not know the suspects had moved three months earlier. Rettele had bought the home in September and lived there with Sadler and her 17-year-old son.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Quasi-martial law enacted in Baltimore

Large chunks of Baltimore are undergoing a process very similar to martial law, all in an attempt to curb a high homicide rate.

from the Baltimore Sun:

The legislation - which met with a lukewarm response from Mayor Sheila Dixon's administration yesterday, and which others likened to martial law - would allow police to close liquor stores and bars, limit the number of people on city sidewalks and halt traffic in areas declared "public safety act zones." It comes as the number of homicides in Baltimore reached 108, up from 98 at the same time last year.

"Desperate measures are needed when we're in desperate situations," said City Council Vice President Robert W. Curran, the bill's author. "What I'm trying to do is give the mayor additional tools."

Russia engages Estonia in cyberwar

Russia apparently unleashed the internet hounds of hell upon Estonia. Is this the next form of state-vs-state warfare?

We can't we all just sit down to a good, fair, high stakes game of pong?

from the Guardian:

A three-week wave of massive cyber-attacks on the small Baltic country of Estonia, the first known incidence of such an assault on a state, is causing alarm across the western alliance, with Nato urgently examining the offensive and its implications.

While Russia and Estonia are embroiled in their worst dispute since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a row that erupted at the end of last month over the Estonians' removal of the Bronze Soldier Soviet war memorial in central Tallinn, the country has been subjected to a barrage of cyber warfare, disabling the websites of government ministries, political parties, newspapers, banks, and companies.

SWAT team raids wrong house, woops

A North Carolina woman is filing a complaint after a SWAT team erroneously raided her house, forcing kids to the ground at gunpoint.


Sandra Braswell said the officers threw two smoke grenades into her house at 208 N. Oak St. around 1:30 a.m. Saturday while her 16-year-old grandson and six of his friends were having a party on the back porch.

She said the officers, with guns drawn, told the teenagers to get on the floor. When some of the teenagers tried to run, the officers forced them to the ground and pinned their hands behind their backs.

“They didn't show no warrant,” she said on Monday. “They didn’t have no warrant for this house. They made me lay in the floor, though. I couldn’t say nothing, with my hands up in the air and all these kids in here on the floor. One of the kids laying across form me, cop got a gun pointed to his head.”

Kyoto Protocol endorsed by U.S. mayors, bypass President Bush

About 500 US mayors signed the Kyoto Protocol, a snub to the anti-Kyoto President Bush.

from Seed Magazine:

"Mayors took action because we have to, because the federal government was silent," said Douglas Palmer, head of the United States conference of Mayors.

A total of 514 US mayors attending an environment summit of world city leaders signed the accord to slash pollutants to below 1990 levels by 2012.

The United States Conference of Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement is the only climate protection agreement of its kind among US elected officials. Bush has refused to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

School holds mock gun attack, terrify children

The staff of an elementary school used 'poor judgement' and staged a mock rampage, neglecting to mention to the children that it wasn't mock.

from CNN:

During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on a locked door.

After the lights went out, about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said.

"I was like, 'Oh My God,' " she said. "At first I thought I was going to die. We flipped out."

Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation "involved poor judgment."

Canadian Gravity Mystery Solved; What?

Apparently, Canada has had a weird dip in gravity around Hudson Bay. I wasn't aware of that. There's a certain surrealism to this whole story.

from LiveScience:

"There are many uncertainties about the last ice age and its impact on the Earth," said one of the study’s researchers Jerry Mitrovica, a physicist at the University of Toronto. “We are able to show that the ghost of the ice age still hangs over North America."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Cold War's hidden casualties

The laborers who helped build America's nuclear weapons are getting a raw deal. Exposed to radiation on a ridiculous level, these workers are much older now, and very sick with cancer. The cherry on top to this yellowcake is how they're getting the run around for deserved benefits from the Dept. of Labor.

from the Washington Post:

"They couldn't scrub the radiation off my skin -- even after four showers," McKenzie, 52, recalled of his most terrifying day at the Savannah River nuclear weapons plant near Aiken, S.C. "They took my clothes, my watch and even my ring, and sent me home in rubber slippers and a jumpsuit."

Later, when doctors discovered the first of 19 malignant tumors on his bladder, McKenzie followed the same torturous path as thousands of nuclear weapons workers with cancer: He filed a claim for federal compensation. It was denied.

Unable to access secret government files, or even some of his own personnel records, McKenzie could not sufficiently prove that he was exposed to something that may have made him sick. Nor can most of the 104,000 other workers, retirees and family members who have sought help from a federal program intended to atone for decades of hazardous working conditions at scores of nuclear weapons facilities around the country.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Genetic discrimination to be made illegal

If you wanted to deny anyone a job or insurance just because they have unfavorable genetics, you'd better do it soon.

From New Scientist:

On 25 April, the House of Representatives voted 420 to 3 to pass the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The Senate is expected to endorse the act within a few weeks, which is also supported by President Bush. "I am so stunned by the majority," says Sharon Terry, president of the Genetic Alliance, a charity lobbying for the rights of people with inherited illnesses.

"Clearly the House finally understood the incredible significance this has. The American public can now access genetic tests, feel safe about their genetic information not being misused and participate in research that involves genetic information."

Pentagon promises cyber binoculars in 3 years

The Pentagon is saying that it can put out a rather impressive piece of collaborative technology. Reading brain signals and everything. I hope there are applications for this tech beyond shooting people more efficiently.

From Wired:

In a new effort dubbed "Luke's Binoculars" -- after the high-tech binoculars Luke Skywalker uses in Star Wars -- the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is setting out to create its own version of this science-fiction hardware. And while the Pentagon's R&D arm often focuses on technologies 20 years out, this new effort is dramatically different -- Darpa says it expects to have prototypes in the hands of soldiers in three years.

Bush wants privacy lawsuit immunity for phone companies

President Bush wants to help phone companies out with pesky lawsuits over violations of privacy.

href="">Washington Post:

The Bush administration is urging Congress to pass a law that would halt dozens of lawsuits charging phone companies with invading ordinary citizens’ privacy through a post-Sept. 11 warrantless surveillance program.

The measure is part of a legislative package drafted by the Justice Department to relax provisions in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that restrict the administration’s ability to intercept electronic communications in the United States. If passed, the proposed changes would forestall efforts to compel disclosure of the program’s details through Congress or the court system.

The proposal states that “no action shall lie . . . in any court, and no penalty . . . shall be imposed . . . against any person” for giving the government information, including customer records, in connection with alleged intelligence activity the attorney general certifies “is, was, would be or would have been” intended to protect the United States from terrorist attack. The measure, which has not yet been filed, is contained in a proposed amendment to the fiscal 2008 intelligence authorization bill.

About Me

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I'm Troy Doney. I'm on the internet. I'm the writer of the blog "Off the Reservation" at New West. I also write a blog at Reznet. My personal blog is Man Bites Dog. I post my pictures at Flickr and I write short sentences at Twitter.