Archive for March, 2009
31 Mar 2009

Safety First!

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In the good old days, police actually used to rescue people in danger. Today, however, as we see in a recent incident in Britain, they are more likely to devote their energies to preventing bystanders and civilians from taking risks and getting involved while waiting for the appropriate official agency to arrive.

London Times:

A pregnant woman, her husband and their three-year-old son were killed in a house fire early yesterday as police who arrived before the fire brigade prevented neighbours from trying to save them. The woman screamed: “Please save my kids” from a bedroom window and neighbours tried to help but were beaten back by flames and were told by police not to attempt a rescue.

By the time firefighters got into the house in Doncaster, Michelle Colly, 25, her husband, Mark, 29, and son, Louis, 3, were dead. Their daughter, Sophie, 5, was taken to hospital and believed to be critically ill.

Davey Davis, 38, a friend of the family, said: “It was the most harrowing thing I have ever witnessed. Michelle was at the bedroom window yelling, ‘Please save my kids’ and we wanted to help but the police were pushing us back and not allowing us near. We were willing to risk our lives to save those kiddies but the police wouldn’t let us.

“Tempers were running very high, particularly with the women who were there, but the police were just saying we have to wait for the fire brigade because of health and safety.

“There were four or five police officers. They were here before the fire brigade. We heard the sirens and we came across to help but they wouldn’t let us. …

Another resident, who asked not to be named, added: “There were lads with aluminium ladders who wanted to get to them but the police were shouting, ‘Stay away, get out of the yard.’ They were saying, ‘You have got to wait until the fire brigade gets here.’ Michelle was standing at the window banging on it – we all saw it – and shouting to save her kids but the police were just below her pushing us out and telling everybody to stay away.” …

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “The senior officer in charge is confident we handled this incident as professionally as possible.

31 Mar 2009

NY Times Spiked “Game-Changing” Story Last October

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The Philadelphia Bulletin reports that a Pennsylvania attorney recently (3/19) told the House Judiciary Committee that the New York Times spiked a story last October which could have had a significant impact on the election had it been reported.

Heather Heidelbaugh, who represented the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee in the lawsuit against the group, recounted for the ommittee what she had been told by a former ACORN worker who had worked in the group’s Washington, D.C. office. The former worker, Anita Moncrief, told Ms. Heidelbaugh last October, during the state committee’s litigation against ACORN, she had been a “confidential informant for several months to The New York Times reporter, Stephanie Strom.”…

During her testimony, Ms. Heidelbaugh said Ms. Moncrief had told her The New York Times articles stopped when she revealed that the Obama presidential campaign had sent its maxed-out donor list to ACORN’s Washington, D.C. office.

Ms. Moncrief told Ms. Heidelbaugh the campaign had asked her and her boss to “reach out to the maxed-out donors and solicit donations from them for Get Out the Vote efforts to be run by ACORN.”

Ms. Heidelbaugh then told the congressional panel:

“Upon learning this information and receiving the list of donors from the Obama campaign, Ms. Strom reported to Ms. Moncrief that her editors at The New York Times wanted her to kill the story because, and I quote, “it was a game changer.”

31 Mar 2009

The Patented Yglesias Side-Step

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“What if the government put a cap on blog readership? or the number of words you could post?” one of Matthew Yglesias’s readers proposed as a thinking point in the course of arguing against the Gen Y pinko’s suggestion for a 95% tax on earnings over $10 million.

“Fine by me, I’d love to post fewer words,” replied the crafty Rand villain, carefully sidestepping the reduced benefits to him (fewer readers) portion of the analogy and seizing like a limpet onto to the “less work” portion. They train them well in precisely this kind of sophistry in our elite schools.

31 Mar 2009

When Obama Gets Around to Professional Sports

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Digital Anarchy imagines the Community-Organizer-in-Chief bringing fairness to the NFL.

Hat tip to Scott Drum.

31 Mar 2009

Labour Minister Who Said Ireland Misunderstood EU Treaty Never Read It

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Minister of State for Europe Caroline Flint

Labour Minister for Europe Caroline Flint, supporting a re-vote, patronisingly declared that the Irish had “misunderstood” the treaty.

In debate in Parliament yesterday, Ms. Flint’s own understanding of the treaty came into question.

During questions yesterday in Parliament, Europe Minister Caroline Flint admitted that she had not read the Lisbon Treaty in its entirety.

Following a series of vague answers on the implications of the Treaty for European defence, Shadow Europe Minister Mark Francois asked, “Has the Minister read the elements of the Lisbon Treaty that relate to defence?”. Ms. Flint replied, “I have read some of it but not all of it.” She went on to say: “I have been briefed on some of it.”…

In a press release, Mark Francois responded saying, “It’s wonderfully honest of the Minister for Europe to admit that she hasn’t actually read the renamed EU Constitution. It’s not every day that someone will admit they haven’t read the most important document for their job. Her astonishing admission does leave some questions. How does she know if the Treaty’s good for Britain if she hasn’t read it? How could she lecture the Irish that they’d only rejected the Lisbon Treaty because they didn’t understand it?”

30 Mar 2009

Gunners’ Embarcation For India

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From Col. C.E. Callwell, C.B.’s Service Yarns and Memories, William Blackwood, 1912:

Ever since a distinguished Crimean veteran one day came down to the Royal Military Academy to hear reports of Examiners and of the Governor and of other people solemnly read out, and I found myself transformed into a commissioned officer, the Service, according to the verdict of unim­peachable authorities, has been going to the dogs —one had not heard of it as a cadet. But even the most determined pessimists allow that occa­sional bright patches display themselves in the overcast and stormy sky; and an example of such a patch is found in the fact that newly-caught subalterns who know nothing whatever, no longer have drafts flung at their heads to take out to the uttermost parts of the earth, as they did in those days. My very first experience of responsibility after appearing in the ‘Army List’ was the taking over of some forty gunners and drivers at Woolwich, and conducting them to Allahabad where somebody else luckily assumed control over them.

It was about 8 A.M. on a wintry January morn­ing that I encountered the draft for the first time on the imposing parade-ground in front of the Artillery Barracks. It was drawn up alongside another, somewhat larger, draft, which was under charge of a subaltern of a few months’ stand­ing. A crowd of officers of various grades were standing about, the R.A. Band was all ready to speed us on our way, and strong bodies of gun­ners, who apparently were not proceeding to the East because they had no bags and other things at their feet, formed a phalanx in rear. I had joined the previous day, and had then been en­trusted with big packets of documents connected with my party, and the major commanding the depôt had at the same time made reference to “credits” and “money due to the men” and “to­morrow morning,” which conveyed no meaning to my mind. “Ah, there you are. That’s right,” said the major, bustling up to me with a non­commissioned officer in tow, who was cherishing a haversack; “I’ll hand you over the money now, and the list of credits.”

The non-commissioned officer produced a por­tentous sheet of paper, with a column of names on it and various sums noted down against each name. “Where are you going to put it?” de­manded the major. One was arrayed in a tunic in those days when in marching order, and anything like a haversack would have been grossly irregular. Where was the document to go? “Try your sabretache,” suggested somebody, and various people assisted me in exploring that out­rageous article of personal impedimenta, and in cramming the list of credits into its penetralia.” Well done! Now for the money, and then you’ll be fitted out all complete,” said the major en­couragingly; whereupon the non-commissioned officer produced two handfuls of gold and silver and copper coins out of the haversack. “Haven’t you anywhere to put it?” The dross was even worse than the document. I had never seen so much money before at one time in my life, and had no idea how much it amounted to, having neglected to investigate the list which was now stuffed away safely in the sabretache.

“There’s always a pocket in overalls, up at the top,” suggested a bystander. But to get at that pocket would have involved taking off a sword-belt, to say nothing of embarking upon other and even more precarious processes.

“Surely you’ve got a pocket in the breast of your tunic; I have in mine,” remarked another friend in need. Now it is no light thing to unbutton the breast of a new tunic when there is a cross-belt in the way, when one’s hands are encased in thick, stiff pipe-clayed gloves, and when one’s fingers are numbed with the cold. The operation was nevertheless successfully accom­plished, and, true enough, the caricature of a pocket disclosed itself in the lining of the garment (where the padding is inserted to give one a chest), one of the sort which will hold next to nothing, which will not retain what is put into them, and which are so contrived that you never know whether what you try to put into them has got in or not. The pocket was a miracle of inconvenience, and by this time my bosom was all over pipe-clay like a 17th Lancer’s, but just then the Assistant-Quartermaster-General shouldered his way into the group. “I say! Time’s getting on,” he interrupted; “what’s all this delay about?”

” Come, get the money into your pocket,” urged the depôt major impatiently.

“Weel ye tak’ off yer-r gloves, ma mannie. Dinna fash yer-rself,” put in a kindly surgeon-major, who was there to see that none of the travellers contracted some fell disease at the last moment.

“D’you mean to say that you aren’t going to see if it’s all right ?” exclaimed the Assistant-Quartermaster-General, absolutely aghast.

But I had wits enough left not to start upon counting goodness only knows how much money, standing out there shivering on the parade-ground, so I shovelled the coins into my bosom, and had the satisfaction of feeling that a good percentage of them had found their way into the pocket. There was an unmistakable lump in one place. On making investigations with the assist­ance of the other subaltern after getting into the train, it transpired that there was a shortage of two or three sovereigns as compared with the list of credits; but after arriving on board H.M.S. Serapis, and carrying investigations further, nearly the whole of the deficient monies turned up in my boots. You may abuse the combination of overalls and Wellingtons as much as you like. You may inveigh against the arrangement as uncomfortable and unserviceable, and all the rest of it. But the system does have this one advantage. If something carries away high up— a collar-stud, say, or a pin—the thing is not gone beyond recall: it turns up at the end of the day in one of your boots.

“Now then! Hurry up and get into your place, will you,” ordered the depôt major in a fuss. ” You don’t want to inspect them, I suppose; anyway there is no time for it now.” I did not want to inspect them in the very least. Even to an inexperienced eye they presented an un-martial and unprepossessing appearance, and I obediently took up my station in their vicinity. ” March off, please,” directed the Assistant-Quar­termaster-General. “‘Tion! Fours right! Quick march.'” bawled the other subaltern, who being-senior was of course in command of the parade. The drafts somehow transformed themselves out of an irregular line into a still more irregular swarm; the RA. Band thundered “The Girl He Left Behind Him,” and away we streamed—one cannot call it marched—down the hill to the Arsenal Station.

The object of the phalanx of gunners and others who had been drawn up in rear of the drafts now made itself apparent. By a deft manoeuvre they disposed themselves along the flanks and the rear of the troops bound for Asia, while a select party of good-conduct-badge-bedecked veterans assumed the role of wreckers in rear-guard, charged with the picking up of stray men who had collapsed, and of kit-bags which had been abandoned in the stress of the progress. The drafts were composed almost entirely of old soldiers, who were in that condition which may be said to include every stage of exhilaration from the paralytic to that commonly described in the orderly-room as “hav­ing had beer.” However, we got to the station somehow, and there the confusion seemed, to one unaccustomed to such scenes, to almost border on a riot. But although in a disorderly mood, the drafts were merely light-hearted, and in any case they were hopelessly outnumbered, they were bundled into compartments by willing hands, as each compartment filled, stalwart gunners forced the door to, and the guard instantly locked it. Almost before one realised the work­ings of an efficient organisation the task was completed and the whistle sounded. The crowd of officers who had assisted in the engagement, a look of relief depicted on their faces, waved their hands to us cheerily in our first-class compart­ment, the band broke out into “Auld Lang Syne,” the drafts responded with a hurricane of inartic­ulate noises, and we were fairly off on our way to Hindustan.

30 Mar 2009

$700 Billion Stimulus is Unconstitutional

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George Will makes an excellent argument. Let’s hope the Supreme Court intervenes.

[T]he Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) is unconstitutional.

By enacting it, Congress did not in any meaningful sense make a law. Rather, it made executive branch officials into legislators. Congress said to the executive branch, in effect: “Here is $700 billion. You say you will use some of it to buy up banks’ ‘troubled assets.’ But if you prefer to do anything else with the money — even, say, subsidize automobile companies — well, whatever.”

FreedomWorks, a Washington-based libertarian advocacy organization, argues that EESA violates “the nondelegation doctrine.” Although the text does not spell it out, the Constitution’s logic and structure — particularly the separation of powers — imply limits on the size and kind of discretion that Congress may confer on the executive branch.

The Vesting Clause of Article I says, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in” Congress. All. Therefore, none shall be vested elsewhere. Gary Lawson of Boston University’s School of Law suggests a thought experiment:

Suppose Congress passes the Goodness and Niceness Act. Section 1 outlaws all transactions involving, no matter how tangentially, interstate commerce that do not promote goodness and niceness. Section 2 says the president shall define the statute’s meaning with regulations that define and promote goodness and niceness and specify penalties for violations.

Surely this would be incompatible with the Vesting Clause. Where would the Goodness and Niceness Act really be written? In Congress? No, in the executive branch. Lawson says that nothing in the Constitution’s enumeration of powers authorizes Congress to enact such a statute. The only power conferred on Congress by the Commerce Clause is to regulate. The Goodness and Niceness Act does not itself regulate, it just identifies a regulator.

The Constitution empowers Congress to make laws “necessary and proper” for carrying into execution federal purposes. But if gargantuan grants of discretion are necessary, are the purposes proper? Indeed, such designs should be considered presumptively improper. What, then, about the Goodness and Niceness Act, which, as Lawson says, delegates all practical decision-making power to the president? What about EESA? …

As government grows, legislative power, and with it accountability, must shrink. The nation has had 535 national legislators for almost half a century. During that time the federal government’s business — or, more precisely, its busy-ness — has probably grown at least twenty-fold. Vast grants of discretion to the executive branch by Congress, such as EESA, may be necessary — if America is going to have constant governmental hyperkinesis. If Washington is going to do the sort of things that EESA enables — erasing the distinction between public and private sectors; licensing uncircumscribed executive branch conscription of, and experimentation with, the nation’s resources.

Since the New Deal era, few laws have been invalidated on the ground that they improperly delegated legislative powers. And Chief Justice John Marshall did say that the “precise boundary” of the power to “make” or the power to “execute” the law “is a subject of delicate and difficult inquiry.” Still, surely sometimes the judiciary must adjudicate such boundary disputes.

The Supreme Court has said: “That Congress cannot delegate legislative power to the president is a principle universally recognized as vital to the integrity and maintenance of the system of government ordained by the Constitution.” And the court has said that properly delegated discretion must come with “an intelligible principle” and must “clearly delineate” a policy that limits the discretion. EESA flunks that test.

30 Mar 2009

Obama Appoints Internationalist Yale Law School Dean to be State Department Legal Advisor

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Meghan Clyne, in the New York Post, sees the appointment of ultraleftist Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh to the top legal position in the State Department as a step toward putting Koh on the Supreme Court.

Judges should interpret the Constitution according to other nations’ legal “norms.” Sharia law could apply to disputes in US courts. The United States constitutes an “axis of disobedience” along with North Korea and Saddam-era Iraq.

Those are the views of the man on track to become one of the US government’s top lawyers: Harold Koh.

President Obama has nominated Koh — until last week the dean of Yale Law School — to be the State Department’s legal adviser. In that job, Koh would forge a wide range of international agreements on issues from trade to arms control, and help represent our country in such places as the United Nations and the International Court of Justice.

It’s a job where you want a strong defender of America’s sovereignty. But that’s not Koh. He’s a fan of “transnational legal process,” arguing that the distinctions between US and international law should vanish. …

Koh has called America’s focus on the War on Terror “obsessive.” In 2004, he listed countries that flagrantly disregard international law — “most prominently, North Korea, Iraq, and our own country, the United States of America,” which he branded “the axis of disobedience.”

He has also accused President George Bush of abusing international law to justify the invasion of Iraq, comparing his “advocacy of unfettered presidential power” to President Richard Nixon’s. And that was the first Bush — Koh was attacking the 1991 operation to liberate Kuwait, four days after fighting began in Operation Desert Storm.

Koh has also praised the Nicaraguan Sandinistas’ use in the 1980s of the International Court of Justice to get Congress to stop funding the Contras. Imagine such international lawyering by rogue nations like Iran, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela today, and you can see the danger in Koh’s theories.

Koh, a self-described “activist,” would plainly promote his views aggressively once at State. He’s not likely to feel limited by the letter of the law — in 1994, he told The New Republic: “I’d rather have [former Supreme Court Justice Harry] Blackmun, who uses the wrong reasoning in Roe [v. Wade] to get the right results, and let other people figure out the right reasoning.”

Worse, the State job might be a launching pad for a Supreme Court nomination. (He’s on many liberals’ short lists for the high court.) Since this job requires Senate confirmation, it’s certainly a useful trial run.

More background, from Volokh.

30 Mar 2009

UN’s Dreams of Looting

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The potential costs of dealing with an imaginary problem can be tremendous. Fox News reports on the UN’s about to be released climate change wish list. Santa Claus could never afford all this.

A United Nations document on “climate change” that will be distributed to a major environmental conclave next week envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes — all under the supervision of the world body. …

The paper makes no effort to calculate the magnitude of the costs and disruption involved, but despite the discreet presentation, makes clear that they will reverberate across the entire global economic system.

Among the tools that are considered are the cap-and-trade system for controlling carbon emissions that has been espoused by the Obama administration; “carbon taxes” on imported fuels and energy-intensive goods and industries, including airline transportation; and lower subsidies for those same goods, as well as new or higher subsidies for goods that are considered “environmentally sound.”

Other tools are referred to only vaguely, including “energy policy reform,” which the report indicates could affect “large-scale transportation infrastructure such as roads, rail and airports.” When it comes to the results of such reform, the note says only that it could have “positive consequences for alternative transportation providers and producers of alternative fuels.”

In the same bland manner, the note informs negotiators without going into details that cap-and-trade schemes “may induce some industrial relocation” to “less regulated host countries.” Cap-and-trade functions by creating decreasing numbers of pollution-emission permits to be traded by industrial users, and thus pay more for each unit of carbon-based pollution, a market-driven system that aims to drive manufacturers toward less polluting technologies.

The note adds only that industrial relocation “would involve negative consequences for the implementing country, which loses employment and investment.” But at the same time it “would involve indeterminate consequences for the countries that would host the relocated industries.”

There are also entirely new kinds of tariffs and trade protectionist barriers such as those termed in the note as “border carbon adjustment”— which, the note says, can impose “a levy on imported goods equal to that which would have been imposed had they been produced domestically” under more strict environmental regimes.

Another form of “adjustment” would require exporters to “buy [carbon] offsets at the border equal to that which the producer would have been forced to purchase had the good been produced domestically.”

The impact of both schemes, the note says, “would be functionally equivalent to an increased tariff: decreased market share for covered foreign producers.” (There is no definition in the report of who, exactly, is “foreign.”) The note adds that “If they were implemented fairly, such schemes would leave trade and investment patterns unchanged.” Nothing is said about the consequences if such fairness was not achieved.

UN Information Note

29 Mar 2009

It Can Happen Here

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With little attention from the public or the MSM this week, Congress made Barack Obama’s most alarming campaign promise into a reality by funding an expansion of the Americorps federal youth community volunteer program into a vastly larger, uniformed and politically-indoctrinated cadre of young people.

The Obama Administration has already had its own little Kristallnacht, in which public fury was deliberately whipped up against financial industry executives by government officials, who were publicly pilloried as allegedly responsible for causing the economic crisis by greed and dishonesty. The supposed wrong-doing of today’s American financial sector, just like the false accusations of the burning of the German Reichstag by the Jews in the 1930s, is being used as a similar excuse for a governmental power-grab and for similar extraordinary punitive steps against a minority.

The Washington Examiner finds the creation of an “Obama Youth” also decidedly sinister. These kinds of paramilitary cadres, “just as powerful, just as strong” as the regular military, are a traditional hallmark, and effective tool of social control, favored by totalitarians everywhere, by the Lukashenkos, the Castros, the Chavezes, and now by Barack Obama.

With almost no public attention, both chambers of Congress in the past week advanced an alarming expansion of the Americorps national service plan, with the number of federally funded community service job increasing from 75,000 to 250,000 at a cost of $5.7 billion. Lurking behind the feel-good rhetoric spouted by the measure’s advocates is a bill that on closer inspection reveals multiple provisions that together create a strong odor of creepy authoritarianism. The House passed the measure overwhelmingly, while only 14 senators had the sense and courage to vote against it on a key procedural motion. Every legislator who either voted for this bill or didn’t vote at all has some serious explaining to do.

Last summer, then-candidate Barack Obama threw civil liberties to the wind when he proposed “a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the regular military. The expanded Americorps is not quite so disturbing, but a number of provisions in the bill raise serious concerns.

To begin with, the legislation threatens the voluntary nature of Americorps by calling for consideration of “a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people.” It anticipates the possibility of requiring “all individuals in the United States” to perform such service – including elementary school students. The bill also summons up unsettling memories of World War II-era paramilitary groups by saying the new program should “combine the best practices of civilian service with the best aspects of military service,” while establishing “campuses” that serve as “operational headquarters,” complete with “superintendents” and “uniforms” for all participants. It allows for the elimination of all age restrictions in order to involve Americans at all stages of life. And it calls for creation of “a permanent cadre” in a “National Community Civilian Corps.”

But that’s not all. The bill also calls for “youth engagement zones” in which “service learning” is “a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency.” This updated form of voluntary community service is also to be “integrated into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics curricula” at all levels of schooling. Sounds like a government curriculum for government approved “service learning,” which is nothing less than indoctrination.

29 Mar 2009

China’s GhostNet

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The Telegraph reports that a Canadian study produced by researchers asked to investigate cyberattacks on the office of the Dalai Lama reveals large-scale world-wide cyberattacks, all originating from China.

A vast Chinese cyber-espionage network, codenamed GhostNet, has penetrated sensitive ministries and embassies across 103 countries and infects at least a dozen new computers every week. …

The discovery of GhostNet is the latest sign of China’s determination to win a future “information war”. A ten-month investigation by the Munk Centre for International Studies in Toronto has revealed that GhostNet not only searches computers for information and taps their emails, but also turns them into giant listening devices.

Once a computer has been infected, hackers can turn on its web camera and microphones and record any conversations within range.

The study revealed that almost a third of the targets infected by GhostNet are “considered high-value and include computers located at ministries of foreign affairs, embassies, international organisations, news media and NGOs”. This global web of espionage has been constructed in the last two years.

Another report from Cambridge University said the sophisticated computer attacks had been “devastatingly effective” and that “few organisations, outside the defence and intelligence sector, could withstand such an attack”.

The report stopped short of accusing the Beijing government of responsibility for the network, but said the vast majority of cyber attacks originated from inside China.

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The New York Times also headlined the report in its Technology section.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, or malware.

Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.

The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to the spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focused on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

Intelligence analysts say many governments, including those of China, Russia and the United States, and other parties use sophisticated computer programs to covertly gather information.

The newly reported spying operation is by far the largest to come to light in terms of countries affected.

This is also believed to be the first time researchers have been able to expose the workings of a computer system used in an intrusion of this magnitude.

Still going strong, the operation continues to invade and monitor more than a dozen new computers a week, the researchers said in their report, “Tracking ‘GhostNet’: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network.” They said they had found no evidence that United States government offices had been infiltrated, although a NATO computer was monitored by the spies for half a day and computers of the Indian Embassy in Washington were infiltrated.

The malware is remarkable both for its sweep — in computer jargon, it has not been merely “phishing” for random consumers’ information, but “whaling” for particular important targets — and for its Big Brother-style capacities. It can, for example, turn on the camera and audio-recording functions of an infected computer, enabling monitors to see and hear what goes on in a room. The investigators say they do not know if this facet has been employed.

The researchers were able to monitor the commands given to infected computers and to see the names of documents retrieved by the spies, but in most cases the contents of the stolen files have not been determined. Working with the Tibetans, however, the researchers found that specific correspondence had been stolen and that the intruders had gained control of the electronic mail server computers of the Dalai Lama’s organization.

The electronic spy game has had at least some real-world impact, they said. For example, they said, after an e-mail invitation was sent by the Dalai Lama’s office to a foreign diplomat, the Chinese government made a call to the diplomat discouraging a visit. And a woman working for a group making Internet contacts between Tibetan exiles and Chinese citizens was stopped by Chinese intelligence officers on her way back to Tibet, shown transcripts of her online conversations and warned to stop her political activities.

The Toronto researchers said they had notified international law enforcement agencies of the spying operation, which in their view exposed basic shortcomings in the legal structure of cyberspace.

By some curious coincidence, the web-site offering the actual report as inaccessible today.

29 Mar 2009

Iran Assisting North Korea

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The London Times quotes a Japanese report demonstrating more cooperation among the membership of the Axis of Evil.

Missile experts from Iran are in North Korea to help Pyongyang prepare for a rocket launch, according to reports.

Amid increasing global concern over the launch, which the US and its allies consider to be illegal, Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper claimed today that a 15-strong delegation from Tehran has been in the country advising the North Koreans since the beginning of March.

The experts include senior officials from the Iranian rocket and satellite producer Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, the newspaper said.

They are clearly sharing missile technology.

29 Mar 2009

Global Warming Science Basics

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Dr. Mason Williams, retired Professor Emeritus from the University of Rhode Island, College of Engineering, has written up a succinct summary of the basic issues underlying the debate on Anthropogenic Global Warming.

28 Mar 2009

Horror Movie Has Different Ending

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Bear Mountain Sports turns around a clichéd Hollywood situation in this terrific commercial.

1:04 video

Also via Jon Henke.

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