Tuesday, October 12, 2004

 

Google error message

Try this! Go to Google and type in, with quotation marks, "weapons of mass destruction" then click I'm Feeling Lucky instead of Google Search. Pasted below is the Error message you'll receive:

These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed

The weapons you are looking for are currently unavailable. The country might be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your weapons inspectors mandate.

Please try the following:

Click the Regime change button, or try again later.

If you are George Bush and typed the country's name in the address bar, make sure that it is spelled correctly. (IRAQ).

To check your weapons inspector settings, click the UN menu, and then click Weapons Inspector Options. On the Security Council tab, click Consensus. The settings should match those provided by your government or NATO.

If the Security Council has enabled it, The United States of America can examine your country and automatically discover Weapons of Mass Destruction.If you would like to use the CIA to try and discover them, click Detect weapons

Some countries require 128 thousand troops to liberate them. Click the Panic menu and then click About US foreign policy to determine what regime they will install.

If you are an Old European Country trying to protect your interests, make sure your options are left wide open as long as possible. Click the Tools menu, and then click on League of Nations. On the Advanced tab, scroll to the Head in the Sand section and check settings for your exports to Iraq.

Click the Bomb button if you are Donald Rumsfeld.

Cannot find weapons or CIA Error
Iraqi Explorer

Monday, October 11, 2004

 

UK Indymedia posts

This is copied and pasted straight from www.indymedia.org.uk (not certain any of the included links still work or will work):

BREAKING NEWS: US Authorities Seize IMC Servers in UK
07-10-2004 21:43 34 comment(s)

UPDATE 9th Oct:
Statewatch Statement on Server Seizures and MLAT"Why did the Home Office agree? What grounds did the USA give for the seizure of the servers? Were these grounds of a "political" nature? Has the Home Office requested that the servers be returned? What does this action say about freedom of expression and freedom of the press?"

UPDATE 8th Oct: Latest Indymedia Statement"Indymedia condemns the fact that even 24 hours after two entire servers were taken down, Indymedia is still not getting any information of the reasons for the order. By taking down 2 servers more than 20 Indymedia sites were affected in different countries globally as well as several unrelated projects. Indymedia considers this extremely invasive operation a a serious threat to the Freedom of Speech worldwide. Indymedia insists that the servers are returned"

UPDATE 8th Oct: Rackspace have issued a statement:
"In the present matter regarding Indymedia, Rackspace Managed Hosting, a U.S. based company with offices in London, is acting in compliance with a court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering. Rackspace responded to a Commissioner’s subpoena, duly issued under Title 28, United States Code, Section 1782 in an investigation that did not arise in the United States. Rackspace is acting as a good corporate citizen and is cooperating with international law enforcement authorities. The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter."
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Statement (8th Oct) "We have witnessed an intolerable and intrusive international police operation against a network specialising in independent journalism," said Aidan White IFJ General Secretary. "The way this has been done smacks more of intimidation of legitimate journalistic inquiry than crime-busting." International Freedom of Expression eXchange: AMARC Alert (8th Oct) See also 2002 Indymedia Support Letter signed by MPs and others. Further links to mainstream media coverage can be found at the bottom of this feature. Correspondence between an indymedia activist and Rackspace, and lists of sites that are and are not back on line, can be found on this blog.
Original Post
On Thursday morning, US authorities issued a federal order to Rackspace ordering them to hand over Indymedia web servers to the requesting agency. Rackspace, which provides hosting services for more that 20 Indymedia sites at its London facility, complied and turned over the requested servers, effectively removing those sites from the internet.
Since the subpoena was issued to Rackspace and not to Indymedia, the reasons for this action are still unknown to Indymedia. Talking to Indymedia volunteers, Rackspace stated that "they cannot provide Indymedia with any information regarding the order." ISPs have received gag orders in similar situations which prevent them from updating the concerned parties on what is happening.
It is unclear to Indymedia how and why a server that is outside the US jurisdiction can be seized by US authorities.
It is ironic that that this happens now, just days before Indymedia is due to participate in the European Forum on Communications Rights being held alongside the European Social Forum and several other days of discussions about electronic civil liberties and community media. For more information on these events see
www.efcr2004.net
[ Original Press Release Global Indymedia article and comments IMC FBI pages]

 

Now this is cool!

From yesterday's AP thingy, found on Yahoo (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=624&e=11&u=/ap/math_against_terror)

Mathematicians Offer Help in Terror Fight
Sun Oct 10, 8:16 AM ET
By MATT CRENSON, AP National Writer

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - A small group of thinking men and women convened at Rutgers University last month to consider how order theory — a branch of abstract mathematics that deals with hierarchical relationships — could be applied to the war on terror.

It almost seems ridiculous for people who inhabit a world of concept lattices and partially ordered sets to think they can affect a war that is being fought on the streets of Baghdad and in the remote mountains of northern Pakistan. But the war on terror is also fought in cyberspace, and in the minds of people from Lahore to Los Angeles. Mathematicians are right at home in such abstract realms.

"It's not just theoretical," said Fred Roberts, director of the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science, the Rutgers research institute where the conference was held.

Terrorism takes brains. You don't need political influence, military might or economic resources to plant bombs or take hostages; but without brains, terrorism is nothing more than random violence.

Consider al-Qaida's attack on New York City and Washington, D.C., three years ago. It required a force of only 20 men armed with box cutters, yet it was so brilliantly conceived, meticulously planned and keenly attuned to global politics that it changed the world.

"Terrorism is a thinking man's game," said terror expert Gordon Woo.

Mathematician Jonathan Farley of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (news - web sites) said he was inspired to organize the meeting by the movie "A Beautiful Mind." The film tells the story of mathematician John Forbes Nash, whose work in game theory found application in Cold War military strategy, international trade and the auctioning of broadcast frequencies by the Federal Communications Commission (news - web sites).

"I'm a pure mathematician, so I'm completely useless for the most part," Farley said. "But it would be nice to take some of what we do and make it useful for some people — maybe even lifesaving."

The new Homeland Security Institute has a mandate from Congress to do just that, said Gary G. Nelson. A senior researcher at the quasi-governmental institute, he attended the conference in hopes of finding research projects for the institute to support.

Some ideas sounded promising, Nelson said. The most intriguing were those that could help intelligence agencies boil down the vast amounts of data they contend with.

Other proposals were "a pretty long logical distance" from the real world. And not everything was easy to understand, he said, even for a systems engineer.

Theoretically, Farley said, abstract math could help intelligence officers figure out the most efficient way to disable a terrorist network.

Say it's cheaper or more practical to go after a terrorist cell's "middle management" rather than its leadership. How many of those lieutenants would you have to remove in order to disrupt communication between the top dogs and the field operatives? Are there one or two key individuals whose capture would completely cut off the chain of command?

Order theory is all about such questions.

"This helps them decide where to spend the money," Farley said.

Of course, many times the organizational structures of terrorist groups are unknown. Mathematical techniques could also be applied to that problem, by using computer programs that comb through giant databases looking for connections between individuals, locations or events. For example, a program might discover that everybody involved in a given attack attended the same London mosque. Or it might find large numbers of e-mail messages between members of one terrorist cell in Germany and another in the United States, suggesting that they may be working together.

Such data mining techniques are nothing new. But the explosion in computing power over the past few years has spurred innovation in the field.

Jafar Adibi, a computer scientist at the University of Southern California, is developing ways to find hidden links between known terrorists and their as-yet-unknown confederates.

"You're trying to detect major groups of these bad guys," Adibi said.

The technique relies on having an initial group of known terrorists. Then it analyzes things those known terrorists have in common with other people in the database, such as phone calls, places of worship, political affiliations or blood relation.

The program concludes that anybody who has enough connections of the right kind with a known terrorist probably is one also.

Adibi has tested his program using a database built from newspaper accounts and other publicly available information. He labels 20 percent of a terrorist group's members as "known" and challenges the program to find the rest. Right now, the system misses 20 percent of the remaining members, and three of the 10 people it does identify as "bad guys" aren't actually terrorists.

Adibi said he hopes to improve those numbers a bit. But even so, programs like his could help focus anti-terror efforts on the most likely suspects. Mass detentions by law enforcement authorities have often snared too many innocent people, Woo said. Britain has arrested more than 600 people on suspicion of terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks, and convicted only 15 of them. By some counts, the United States has detained more than 5,000 foreign nationals under the provisions of the Patriot Act, alienating them and their families.

"Part of the war on terrorism is winning hearts and minds," said Woo, an analyst in the London office of Risk Management Solutions. The Newark, Calif.-based consulting firm assesses catastrophe risks for the banking and insurance industries.

Minds are the specialty of Vladimir Lefebvre, a cognitive scientist at the University of California in Irvine. The Russian-born researcher has spent his career developing ways of reducing human decision-making to mathematical equations. The work stems from a top-secret Soviet research project that Lefebvre worked on during the 1970s.

"I can compute feelings," he said with a grin.

Lefebvre's ideas are so obvious that you wonder if he might be kidding. Every person, he argues, has a view of the self that he or she uses as a tool for making decisions. That view can be influenced by the outside environment.

So in principle, there ought to be things we can do to make terrorists feel less sure about themselves or less ardent in their beliefs. The right strategy might even make them think of themselves as something other than terrorists.

Lefebvre believes human decision-making is so straightforward that simple equations can describe how an individual's behavior arises from his or her self-image as it is shaped by other people and the environment.

Stefan Schmidt, a New Mexico State University researcher who has worked with Lefebvre, offered a hypothetical example. Suppose, he said, terrorists were considering three points of entry into the United States — one in the Pacific Northwest, one in the Southwest and one in the Northeast. Looking at the level of security on the various borders, and considering other factors such as remoteness, terrorists might decide on the Southwest as the best place to cross.

Assume that border agents, on the other hand, are heavily guarding the Northeast border. They would benefit by making the Southwest seem more heavily patrolled than it really is, and the Northeast appear relatively unprotected. If they did a credible job, the terrorists would incorrectly choose the most secure border as their best bet and run a much higher chance of being caught.

Conceptually, this kind of reasoning is no different from military strategy. If you can plant an inaccurate idea in your opponent's head, you will have an advantage on the battlefield.

But actually doing that — at least for the time being — requires a combination of brilliance, instinct and luck that few people possess. Lefebvre would reduce the process of outwitting your opponent to a computer program.

In some ways, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have done just that. Computer scientist Kathleen M. Carley heads a lab that tries to simulate all kinds of social groups, including terrorist organizations.

The lab has built simulations of Hamas and al-Qaida by dumping newspaper articles and other publicly available information about the organizations into a computer database. A program then takes that information and looks for patterns and relationships between individuals. It finds weak and strong figures, power brokers, hidden relationships and people with crucial skills.

Then another program can predict what would happen if a specific individual were removed from the organization. After Israel's assassination of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in March, the program correctly predicted he would be succeeded by hard-liner Abdel Azziz Rantisi.

Three weeks later Israel assassinated Rantisi as well. Carley's lab predicted that Hamas political director Khaled Mashaal would succeed him, and posted its pick on the Internet.

This time, Hamas declined to reveal who had taken power for fear he too would be assassinated. But eventually it became known that Mashaal was indeed the one.

At that point, Carley said, "we were told to quit putting such predictions on the Web" by federal officials.

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