Halliburton Could Get $1.5 Billion More Iraq Work-Army :.

Halliburton Co., under scrutiny for its contracts in Iraq, would receive an extra $1.5 billion as part of the Bush administration's additional war spending proposal for fiscal 2005, a senior U.S. Army budget official said on Friday.


U.S. Bankruptcies 'To Surge' Amid Junk Bond Deluge :.

The "global economy" is a lie that is feeble at best:

THE US is heading for a surge in bankruptcies and a dramatic increase in corporate debt default as the number of companies with bonds rated at the lowest end of the junk bond scale reaches record levels.

More than 45 per cent of newly issued junk bonds are rated CCC, according to bond market analysts at Standard & Poor’s (S&P), a dramatic increase since 2003 when 30 per cent of the junk bond market was made up of companies that were a notch away from default.

Thompson 'Shot Himself on Phone' :.

The widow of US writer Hunter S Thompson has said her husband killed himself while they were speaking to one another on the telephone.

Thompson - best-known for his 1972 account of a drug-addled Nevada trip, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - shot himself on Sunday at his Colorado home.

His widow, Anita Thompson, 32, told the Aspen Daily News she heard the "clicking of the gun".

She said: "I was on the phone with him, he set the receiver down and did it."

Mrs Thompson said her husband had asked her to come home from a health club so they could work on his weekly column, but instead of saying goodbye, he shot himself.

She added that she heard a loud, muffled noise, but did not know what had happened.

"I was waiting for him to get back on the phone," she said.


Not Enough Evidence to Charge Marine in Point-Blank Fallujah Execution :.

Imagine my shock:

A US marine, captured on film killing a wounded Iraqi at point blank range during November's assault on Fallujah, will not be formally charged due to lack of evidence.

The November 13 shooting occurred during a search of a mosque in a widely broadcast incident that sparked worldwide outrage and was described by the International Committee of the Red Cross as a demonstration of "utter contempt for humanity."

In the incident, a trooper raised his rifle and shot point blank at an apparently unarmed, wounded Iraqi who was slumped against one of the mosque walls, in footage captured by an embedded cameraman working for the NBC network.

Although the insurgents were found to be unarmed, investigators said the one the Marine believed he had seen moving could have been reaching for a weapon.

The rifleman was withdrawn from combat pending the results of the investigation, but the graphic footage enraged many, months after the scandal over US troops' abuse of inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison.

CBS News said Wednesday it had learned that military investigators had concluded insufficient evidence existed to formally charge the marine.

German Protesters Call Bush 'No. 1 Terrorist' :.

Can you feel the love?

About 12,000 protesters, many carrying banners reading "Bush go home," "No. 1 Terrorist" and "Warmonger," marched through the German city of Mainz on Wednesday, but were mostly kept away from the visiting U.S. president.

The official rally, which was twice as big as expected, never got within earshot of President Bush, but a small group of protestors rushed toward his car as he left to visit a U.S. base in nearby Wiesbaden. Police wrestled several demonstrators to the ground and led them away in handcuffs, a Reuters witness said.


Flashback: Tsunami Bomb New Zealand's Devastating War Secret :.

Going back about five years here. Full text follows:

The New Zealand Herald

Tsunami bomb NZ's devastating war secret


By Eugene Bingham

Top-secret wartime experiments were conducted off the coast of Auckland to perfect a tidal wave bomb, declassified files reveal.

An Auckland University professor seconded to the Army set off a series of underwater explosions triggering mini-tidal waves at Whangaparaoa in 1944 and 1945.

Professor Thomas Leech's work was considered so significant that United States defence chiefs said that if the project had been completed before the end of the war it could have played a role as effective as that of the atom bomb.

Details of the tsunami bomb, known as Project Seal, are contained in 53-year-old documents released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Papers stamped "top secret" show the US and British military were eager for Seal to be developed in the post-war years too. They even considered sending Professor Leech to Bikini Atoll to view the US nuclear tests and see if they had any application to his work.

He did not make the visit, although a member of the US board of assessors of atomic tests, Dr Karl Compton, was sent to New Zealand.

"Dr Compton is impressed with Professor Leech's deductions on the Seal project and is prepared to recommend to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that all technical data from the test relevant to the Seal project should be made available to the New Zealand Government for further study by Professor Leech," said a July 1946 letter from Washington to Wellington.

Professor Leech, who died in his native Australia in 1973, was the university's dean of engineering from 1940 to 1950.

News of his being awarded a CBE in 1947 for research on a weapon led to speculation in newspapers around the world about what was being developed.

Though high-ranking New Zealand and US officers spoke out in support of the research, no details of it were released because the work was on-going.

A former colleague of Professor Leech, Neil Kirton, told the Weekend Herald that the experiments involved laying a pattern of explosives underwater to create a tsunami.

Small-scale explosions were carried out in the Pacific and off Whangaparaoa, which at the time was controlled by the Army.

It is unclear what happened to Project Seal once the final report was forwarded to Wellington Defence Headquarters late in the 1940s.

The bomb was never tested on a full scale, and Mr Kirton doubts that Aucklanders would have noticed the trials.

"Whether it could ever be resurrected ... Under some circumstances I think it could be devastating."

Surveillance Hell in Los Angeles :.

Spotting suspects without ever leaving the station has become a reality for the Los Angeles Police Department.

New technology is helping officers make more arrests with less manpower.

“The software will actually bring the number of suspects down from several thousand to just a few,” said Steven Safari, vice president for sales for Neven Vision, a California-based company that specializes in comprehensive facial biometric analysis technology.

With cameras placed in parks and on city streets, Los Angeles police identify what may be suspicious activity and zoom in on the faces of the people involved.

Officers on the beat get to use handheld personal digital assistants with cameras that can access a complete set of mug shots. Police are able to take a picture of anybody on the street and then can match up the digital photograph to the faces in a database of gang and felony suspects.

“We're going to be able to identify who's wanted, not wanted, we’ll be able to eliminate people that are possibly wanted, identify gang members that weren't being able to be identified before,” said Matt Zeigler, an L.A. police officer.

Rigorous Intuition :.

Jeff is doing excellent work on MK related subjects, and much more. Consider adding Rigorous Intuition to your daily-read list.

South Korea Dumps Dollar, Oil Surges :.

U.S. stocks sank on Tuesday as oil prices jumped above $51 a barrel and the dollar slid on concerns that other central banks would follow South Korea's lead in diversifying reserves out of U.S. assets.


Gannon/Guckert Web Pages on :.

These might be useful to researchers.

Crazy, Yes. But Crazy Enough to Be True? :.

Is Gannon/Guckert an Aquino MK asset? Most of the limousine liberals who are banging the drums on this issue have no idea of what this MIGHT be... Key word, might.

If you're not already, start watching this closely. It MUST go away:

What if "John Gannon" isn't really "James D Guckert"? (And why should he be, since he's lied about everything else?) What if he proves to be Johnny D Gosch?

In 1982, Gosch was a 12-year old Des Moines paperboy abducted into a paedophile ring which practiced ritual, Satanic abuse and enjoyed covert sanction. Paul Bonacci, himself a child victim to Omaha's Lawrence King of Franklin Credit Union notoriety, testified that he had helped lure Gosch from his paper route. "Evidence links this same porno/paedophile ring to the 80's 'congressional call boy scandal', money laundering, drug running, illegal arms deals and more," says The Johnny Gosch Foundation...

Human Tracking: Big Brother Goes Mainstream :.

Once viewed as a futuristic nightmare, human tracking is now affordable and available without restriction. For $200 plus a monthly service fee of $20, anyone can purchase an electronic device that puts George Orwell's 1984 surveillance technology to shame. They're marketed as "kid-tracking" devices, though some ads also mention pets and senior citizens. In vivid shades of doublespeak, one company offers service plans named "Liberty, Independence, and Freedom," but surveillance and control are their purpose.

At the very least, human-tracking devices will alter relationships between some parents and children, husbands and wives, employers and employees more dramatically than any other product emerging from the information revolution. Ultimately, they offer a new form of human slavery based on location control. They pose the greatest threat to personal freedom ever faced in human history.

Whatever legitimate uses there may be - to safeguard a child or incapacitated adult, for example - abuses will occur. Even full-blown geoslavery is inevitable: the uncertainty is how many people will suffer from it - hundreds, thousands or millions.

Half of Russia's Nuclear Materials Unaccounted for - U.S. Senator :.

Half of Russia’s nuclear materials are unaccounted for, a U.S. senator has said, citing classified intelligence and warning that the weapons could be used by terrorists plotting new attacks against the United States.

'Minutemen' to Patrol Arizona Border :.

Take a good long look. This is what the collapse of a state looks like. Individuals pick up guns and say, "Enough." This tends to lead to a bad end... Oh well.

Any group that assumes the normal (core) duties of government might begin to appear as a legitimate authority in the eyes of the public. This subverts the power of the state in unnaceptable ways. I would expect the 'Minutemen' to be branded as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Government at any moment. Its members will probably be arrested under the Patriot Act and held without being charged with anything for some period of time.

Think about it.

The illegal immigration situation is clearly out of control. What if the 'Minutemen' were to succeed in slowing the flood of illegal immigrants into America? This would set an unthinkable precident. There are lots of situations that are clearly out of control. Income disparity. Health care. Pollution. What's the solution to these problems? Do people just show up with their weapons cocked and locked?

History shows us that the systems that result from armed coups/revolutions/civil wars are very ugly. As the U.S. devolves into open chaos, keep that in mind. I'm not saying that the state deserves to be spared from the wrath of the populace---far from it---I'm just saying that you'll want to look to films like Mad Max and books like Player Piano for glimpse into the system that will result:

Intent on securing the vulnerable Arizona border from illegal immigrant crossings, U.S. officials are bracing for what they call a potential new threat this spring: the Minutemen.

Nearly 500 volunteers have already joined the Minuteman Project, anointing themselves civilian border patrol agents determined to stop the immigration flow that routinely, and easily, seeps past federal authorities. They plan to patrol a 40-mile stretch of the southeast Arizona border throughout April when the tide of immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border peaks.

"I felt the only way to get something done was to do it yourself," said Jim Gilchrist, a retired accountant and decorated Vietnam War veteran who is helping recruit Minutemen across the country.

$200 Per Hour Gay Prostitute Questions President Bush in the White House :.

I've been reading about this for the past several days. I just thought, "No way." Well, this isn't going away:

Heard about the Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert muck-up in Washington? If you are an aficionado of the blogs, you've heard plenty. They're having a field day with it. But underneath all the fun lies a serious problem that hasn't got its due from the mainstream press: This White House employs a lot more kinds of fakery than just budgetary smoke and mirrors.

Here's a summary: For more than two years, a reporter named Jeff Gannon turned up at White House briefings and press conferences, where he asked softball questions with a decidedly pro-Bush bent. For example, at President Bush's Jan. 26 press conference, Gannon asked how Bush could work with lawmakers like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Hillary Clinton, "who seem to have divorced themselves from reality."

Well, it turns out that "Jeff Gannon" is really Jim Guckert, and he was a reporter for an online outfit called "Talon News," which was associated with the online group, owned by Texas Republicans. It also turns out that Guckert, in addition to reporting for a phony Web site, has no real journalism training and is a $200-an-hour gay prostitute. He ran numerous Web sites like The photos of Gannon that were displayed on those Web sites left nothing to the imagination about his physical attributes.

So the question becomes, just how did this character get White House press credentials, despite supposed post-Sept. 11 security requirements? Bruce Bartlett, a conservative columnist who worked in the Reagan and first Bush administrations, says that "if Gannon was using an alias, the White House staff had to be involved in maintaining his cover." In other words, the White House wanted him at those briefings and wanted him to ask his softball questions, most likely to divert attention when legitimate reporters were getting too pushy.


Hunter S. Thompson Commits Suicide :.

At first, this really hit me like a ton of bricks. After thinking about it for a few minutes, though.... how else would he go down? Some kind of cancer, organ failure, stroke, heart attack, etc. F*ck that. He'd been living on borrowed time for the last 40 years. Maybe he'd finally seen enough:

Journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson, who unleashed the concept of "gonzo journalism" in books like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," fatally shot himself in the head Sunday at his home near Aspen, Colorado, police and his family said.

"On Feb. 20, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson took his life with a gunshot to the head at his fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colo.," said a statement issued by Thompson's son, Juan Thompson, to the Aspen Daily News as reported by the Denver Post.

Thompson, 67, was associated with the "New Journalism" movement of the 1960s, in which writers took a more novelistic and personal approach to their subjects. His account of a drug-fueled trip to cover a district attorneys' anti-drug conference as a writer for Rolling Stone magazine was the seed of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," perhaps his best-known work.

Subtitled "A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream," the 1971 book included his lament on the passing of the 1960s and its "sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil."

"There was no point in fighting -- on our side or theirs," he wrote. "We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark -- the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."


He's been right before:

Scott Ritter, appearing with journalist Dahr Jamail yesterday in Washington State, dropped two shocking bombshells in a talk delivered to a packed house in Olympia's Capitol Theater. The ex-Marine turned UNSCOM weapons inspector said that George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and claimed the U.S. manipulated the results of the recent Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.


Blogger Is Now Mostly Unusable

Blogger has sucked for a while, but now I can only post about 25% of the time. It ranges from slow to unusable most of the time. I pretty much hate it now. Cryptogon will be moving to Drupal when the next version is released in a few weeks.

Update: As If On Cue


Friday, February 18, 2005

In the past several days, we've seen some performance problems with Blogger. In general, the app has been slower and users have encountered an increased number of Internal Server Errors.

We are aggressively fixing the source of the errors and have pushed several fixes in the past few days to address the problem. There is additional work to do to return Blogger back to a more responsive state - and we're on it. If you find yourself seeing errors, please logout of Blogger and completely shutdown your browser. When you restart your browser and log back in, you will be on a new appserver which may be less loaded and thus performing better.

Thanks for hanging in there as we straighten out this issue.

Posted by Jason at 8:58 AM

Microsoft Warns of Impossible to Clean Spyware :.

Yesterday, I think I managed to talk someone out of buying a Windows machine during my lunch break at work. I did it from my cube, where I'm paid good money to support Windows users all day long. What did I tell this person to buy?

"Walk into an Apple store and pick a Mac, any Mac."

OSX is really the only choice for non technical users who require decent security and reliability---out of the box. I don't want to be associated with the clueless Mac twits who have swallowed Steve Job's KoolAid, but take some number of non-technical users, half running Windows and half running OSX, and release them into the wild. After a few months, which users will have had fewer problems? If you said "the Windows users," my advice to you would be to set the crack pipe down and listen in on the calls I take during business hours.

Don't get me wrong, I have food in my belly because Windows is so bad. I guess I have B Gates to thank for that:

Microsoft Corp. security researchers are warning about a new generation of powerful system-monitoring programs, or "rootkits," that are almost impossible to detect using current security products and could pose a serious risk to corporations and individuals.

The researchers discussed the growing threat posed by kernel rootkits at a session at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco this week. The malicious snooping programs are becoming more common and could soon be used to create a new generation of mass-distributed spyware and worms.

With names like "Hacker Defender," "FU" and "Vanquish," the programs are the latest generation of remote system-monitoring software that has been around for years, according to Mike Danseglio and Kurt Dillard, both of Microsoft's Security Solutions Group.

The programs are used by malicious hackers to control, attack or ferret information from systems on which the software has been installed, typically without the owner's knowledge, either by a virus or after a successful hack of the computer's defenses, they said. Once installed, many rootkits run quietly in the background but can easily be spotted by looking for memory processes that are running on the infected system, monitoring outbound communications from the machine, or checking for newly installed programs.

However, kernel rootkits that modify the kernel component of an operating system are becoming more common. Rootkit authors are also making huge strides in their ability to hide their creations, said Danseglio.

In particular, some newer rootkits are able to intercept queries or "system calls" that are passed to the kernel and filter out queries generated by the rootkit software. The result is that typical signs that a program is running, such as an executable file name, a named process that uses some of the computer's memory, or configuration settings in the operating system's registry, are invisible to administrators and to detection tools, said Danseglio.

If you're wondering what I run at home: I've been using Windows 2000 Pro since 1999 without incident.

But if I think Windows is so bad, why do I use it?

All operating systems are flawed. I have no blind allegiance to any OS, I just use what works the best in most cases. Since 1999, that has meant Windows 2000 for me.

2000 is a good, all-around, desktop OS, if you know how to harden it for security, which I do. (And no, I don't use anti-virus software. I do, however, know how to use hardware/software firewalls, proxy servers and non Microsoft browsers, email and productivity applications.) Using Linux as a desktop OS has been nothing but a pain in the ass for me. It's ok, but things are always broken. I run Mandrake Linux on the server; enough said. I actually bought a Titanium Powerbook about two years ago, but I sold it because it seemed slow to me---having been used to the speed of Win2K and various Linux distros. OSX on current generation G5 Macs is now fast enough for me to consider using as my "daily driver." If I had the need (and the money) I would use a Mac. Besides, I drool a little when I use Final Cut Pro and Garage Band.

Eyeballing the President's Defibrillator :.

IF President Bush has been wearing the LifeVest defibrillator -- a possible source of the Bush bulge in the debates (since it can't be miniaturized like a receiver or bug) -- he likely is uploading his ECG to a physician on a weekly basis via this link:

This is a secure web-based data storage and retrieval system known as WCDNET (Wearable Cardioverter Defibrillator NET) which allows physicians to access patient data stored in the Patient Database using a web browser and Internet connection. Only authorized users registered by LIFECOR and a password and can access WCDNET. In addition, the data transferred over the Internet is encrypted. An authorized physician or operator can view and print ECG events and generate reports related to patient wear time compliance and overall WCD 2000 monitoring performance.

Typically, once a week the physician will want the patient to connect their monitor to the LifeVest modem to send their heart monitoring data over the phone to the physician's computer for his review.

Robotic Arm Controlled by Monkey Thoughts :.

Scientists in the US have created a robotic arm that can be controlled by thought alone.

Developed at Pittsburgh University, it has a fully mobile shoulder and elbow and a gripper that works like a hand.

In early tests, monkeys had tiny probes inserted into their brains and had their limbs restrained - but were then able to manipulate the robotic arm.

The inventors believe it could help people who have lost limb function through disease or trauma.

The mechanical arm research was described at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held this year in Washington DC.

USS Jimmy Carter: NSA Sub :.

The USS Jimmy Carter, set to join the nation's submarine fleet Saturday, will have some special capabilities, intelligence experts say: It will be able to tap undersea cables and eavesdrop on the communications passing through them.

IRA Money Laundering :.

Very interesting:

Police have blown open an Irish Republican Army money-laundering operation, the government and detectives said Friday, but couldn't yet confirm whether cash seized in nationwide raids was from a massive Belfast bank robbery blamed on the IRA.

As their investigation expanded by the hour, detectives levied criminal charges against one suspected IRA member and continued interrogating four other people, including a Sinn Fein activist and a private banker linked to one of Ireland's most prominent dealmakers.

Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell, the government's most outspoken critic of the IRA and its allied Sinn Fein party, said police had just begun to expose a wider IRA network with sophisticated money-laundering techniques.

Experts See Military Draft as Inevitable :.

"We already have our troops stretched to the limit," said J.E. McNeil, executive director of the Center on Conscience & War. The Guard and Reserve cannot continue to provide about 40 percent of the nation's combat troops, Biden said.

As a result, McNeil and other anti-war activists such as Sally Milbury-Steen, executive director of the Wilmington-based peace organization Pacem in Terris, said they think a draft is on the horizon.

"I think there's a very good chance of a military draft in the next two years. We have soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq and now they're heating up the rhetoric on Iran. Where else will the soldiers come from?" Milbury-Steen asked.

Peace activists aren't the only ones thinking seriously about compulsory military service. In a well-publicized letter sent to congressional leaders in late January, conservatives and moderates said flatly that "the United States military is too small for the responsibilities we are asking it to assume."

In that letter, retired military leaders such as Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey joined with defense analysts such as Michele Flournoy and political commentators such as William Kristol in asking Congress "to take the steps necessary to increase substantially the size of the active duty Army and Marine Corps. ... it is our judgment that we should aim for an increase in the active-duty Army and Marine Corps, together, of at least 25,000 troops each year over the next several years."

Iraqi Died While Hung From Wrists :.

An Iraqi whose corpse was photographed with grinning U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib died under CIA interrogation while in a position condemned by human rights groups as torture — suspended by his wrists, with his hands cuffed behind his back, according to reports reviewed by The Associated Press.

Shell, Exxon Tap 'High Cost' Oil Sands, Gas as Reserves Dwindle :.

Make your time:

A 15-year decline in oil reserves is spurring companies such as Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Exxon Mobil Corp. and ChevronTexaco Corp. to spend $76 billion in the next decade to boost supplies of oil from tar sands and diesel fuel from Qatari natural gas, according to estimates by the International Energy Agency in Paris. Oil executives say they have no choice but to try alternatives to drilling because there is not much more crude to be found in their current fields.

"We're damn close" to the peak in conventional oil production, Boone Pickens, who oversees more than $1 billion in energy-related investments at his Dallas hedge fund firm, said in an interview in New York Feb. 16. "I think we're there." Suncor Energy Inc., the world's second-biggest oil-sands miner, is his largest holding.

Research Credit: SS



For close to three years, I've been warning about this. People used to send me email saying I was nuts for suggesting that the U.S. government was building terminator robots...

I haven't received any of those emails lately:

The Pentagon is spending £70 billion on a programme to build heavily-armed robots for the battlefield in the hope that future wars will be fought without the loss of its soldiers' lives.

The scheme, known as Future Combat Systems, is the largest military contract in American history and will help to drive the defence budget up by almost 20 per cent to just over £265 billion in five years' time.

Much of the cash will be spent computerising the military, but the ultimate aim is to take members of the armed forces out of harm's way. They [humans] would be replaced by robots capable of hunting and killing America's enemies.

Gordon Johnson, of the US joint forces research centre, told the New York Times: "The American military will have these kinds of robots. It's not a question of 'if', it's a question of 'when'."

The Swords robots come in several versions, carrying either a machine gun, grenade launcher or a light anti-tank weapon.

It is controlled by a soldier from a distance of up to 1,000 yards.

"We were sitting there firing single rounds and smacking bull's-eyes," said Staff Sergeant Santiago Tordillos, who helped to design and test the robot. "We were completely amazed."

That human involvement has proved critical in convincing military lawyers that machines can be used on the battlefield. More advanced machines which can decide whether to kill would also be legal, said Mr Johnson.

"The lawyers tell me there are no prohibitions against robots making life-or-death decisions," he said.


SHA-1 Broken :.

This attack builds on previous attacks on SHA-0 and SHA-1, and is a major, major cryptanalytic result. It pretty much puts a bullet into SHA-1 as a hash function for digital signatures...

Iran to Aid Syria Against Threats :.

Iran has vowed to back Syria against "challenges and threats" as both countries face strong US pressure.

"We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats," Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref said after meeting Syrian PM Naji al-Otari.

But Washington said that if Iran and Syria had aimed their remarks at the US they were "misreading the issue".

Both countries should focus on meeting their international obligations, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

"Their problem is not with the United States, it's with the international community. Both Syria and Iran ... need to abide by the commitments they have made," he said.

Australian Government Keeping Secret Database on Citizens :.

Nice one!

THE Northern Territory Government is keeping a secret database of people who criticise the Government or its policies, it was learned last night.

The files viewed by the Northern Territory News contained hundreds of names, party affiliations, their jobs or roles and a record of their comments to talkback radio.

Opposition Leader Denis Burke yesterday accused the Martin Government in Parliament of acting like 'Big Brother'.

"It's one thing keeping files on politicians but it's another keeping files on ordinary people," Mr Burke said.

"It's like 'Big Brother'. What about privacy? We certainly never had anything like this when we were in government."

Reporters Must Testify or Go to Jail :.

Two reporters who have refused to name their sources to a grand jury investigating the disclosure of the identity of a covert C.I.A. agent should be jailed for contempt, a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Washington unanimously ruled today.

Citing a 1972 decision of the United States Supreme Court, the panel held that the reporters, Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, have no First Amendment protection from grand jury subpoenas seeking the names of their sources. It can be a crime for government officials to divulge the identities of covert agents.

States Mull Taxing Drivers By Mile :.

Believe it or not:

Officials in car-clogged California are so worried they may be considering a replacement for the gas tax altogether, replacing it with something called "tax by the mile."

Seeing tax dollars dwindling, neighboring Oregon has already started road testing the idea.

"Drivers will get charged for how many miles they use the roads, and it's as simple as that," says engineer David Kim.

Kim and fellow researcher David Porter at Oregon State University equipped a test car with a global positioning device to keep track of its mileage. Eventually, every car would need one.

"So, if you drive 10 miles you will pay a certain fee which will be, let's say, one tenth of what someone pays if they drive 100 miles," says Kim.

The new tax would be charged each time you fill up. A computer inside the gas pump would communicate with your car's odometer to calculate how much you owe.

The system could also track how often you drive during rush hour and charge higher fees to discourage peak use. That's an idea that could break the bottleneck on California's freeways.

"We're getting a lot of interest from other states," says Jim Whitty of the Oregon Department of Transportation. "They're watching what we're doing.

Related: Washington State Wants Permits for Rain Water Collection


Iraq: Weird U.S. Contractor Deaths :.

In the midafternoon of Oct. 9, 2003, Kirk von Ackermann, an American contract worker from the Bay Area, used a satellite phone to call a colleague from a lonely desert road between Tikrit and Kirkuk in northern Iraq. He told his colleague he had a flat tire and needed a jack.

About 45 minutes later, the colleague found von Ackermann's car, abandoned. There was no sign of von Ackermann, who had been alone when he called. No hint of struggle, not even a footprint. All that remained was his satellite phone, his laptop computer, and, on the car's backseat a briefcase holding $40,000 in $100 bills.

"It was as if he had been abducted by aliens," Ryan Manelick told The Chronicle shortly after von Ackermann disappeared. Manelick was one of von Ackermann's colleagues at Ultra Services, a civilian contracting company they both worked for in Iraq, supplying U.S. military bases with tents, mobile homes, toilets, computers and Internet access.

Just over two months later, on the morning of Dec. 14, Manelick was shot dead near Camp Anaconda, a U.S. military base about 50 miles north of Baghdad, and about 50 miles south of where von Ackermann had disappeared.

U.S. Denies Patent for Part-Human Hybrid :.

Paging Dr. Mengele, please pick up the white courtesy phone:

A New York scientist's seven-year effort to win a patent on a laboratory-conceived creature that is part human and part animal ended in failure Friday, closing a historic and somewhat ghoulish chapter in US intellectual property law.

The US Patent and Trademark Office rejected the claim, saying the hybrid -- designed for use in medical research but not yet created -- would be too closely related to a human to be patentable.

Paradoxically, the rejection was a victory of sorts for the inventor, Stuart Newman of New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y. An opponent of patents on living things, he had no intention of making the creatures. He said his goal was to set a legal precedent that would keep others from profiting from similar "inventions."

But in an age in which science is increasingly melding human and animal components for research -- already the government has allowed many patents on "humanized" animals, including a mouse with a human immune system -- the decision leaves a crucial question unanswered: At what point is something too human to patent?

Spanish Skyscraper Burns to Frame, Remains Standing :.

Maybe only American skyscrapers collapse due to fire...


Can This Black Box See Into the Future? :.

Not much is new over at the Global Consciousness Project. They're still asking more questions than they're able to answer:

DEEP in the basement of a dusty university library in Edinburgh lies a small black box, roughly the size of two cigarette packets side by side, that churns out random numbers in an endless stream.

At first glance it is an unremarkable piece of equipment. Encased in metal, it contains at its heart a microchip no more complex than the ones found in modern pocket calculators.

But, according to a growing band of top scientists, this box has quite extraordinary powers. It is, they claim, the 'eye' of a machine that appears capable of peering into the future and predicting major world events.

The machine apparently sensed the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre four hours before they happened - but in the fevered mood of conspiracy theories of the time, the claims were swiftly knocked back by sceptics. But last December, it also appeared to forewarn of the Asian tsunami just before the deep sea earthquake that precipitated the epic tragedy.

Now, even the doubters are acknowledging that here is a small box with apparently inexplicable powers.

'It's Earth-shattering stuff,' says Dr Roger Nelson, emeritus researcher at Princeton University in the United States, who is heading the research project behind the 'black box' phenomenon.

'We're very early on in the process of trying to figure out what's going on here. At the moment we're stabbing in the dark.' Dr Nelson's investigations, called the Global Consciousness Project, were originally hosted by Princeton University and are centred on one of the most extraordinary experiments of all time. Its aim is to detect whether all of humanity shares a single subconscious mind that we can all tap into without realising.

And machines like the Edinburgh black box have thrown up a tantalising possibility: that scientists may have unwittingly discovered a way of predicting the future.


Vaccine Findings Confirm Fears :.

Parents of children with autism said this week's revelation that at least one pharmaceutical company knew of the high levels of mercury in vaccinations years before disclosing it further supports their suspicions that the poison causes neurodevelopmental disorders.

Many parents have long been suspicious of the effects of vaccines containing thimerosal, a compound used to guard against contamination and which is almost 50 percent ethyl mercury. Until recently, the neurotoxin was used in many pediatric vaccines; public health officials first acknowledged the high levels of mercury in those shots in 1999.

HP: Fired Chief PHB Walks with $42 Million :.

Ex-Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will get a severance package worth about $21.4 million, but stands to reap another $21 million after she was forced out by the computer maker's board last week, a newspaper reported Saturday.

The additional amount reflects the estimated value of her Hewlett stock and options as well as her pension, which were not included in her severance package, the New York Times reported.

Fiorina was forced to resign Tuesday after the computer maker's board concluded she hadn't boosted Hewlett's sagging stock or its fortunes after the company's merger with Compaq Computer.


Up to 70% Interest Credit Card Aimed at the Poor :.

Nice one!

A new credit card aimed at millions of low-income families is to charge interest at up to 70% - the highest ever charged by a credit card company.

Marketed under the slogan: "Stay in control of your budgeting", the typical interest rate on the new Vanquis card will be 49.9%, but for some customers the company judge as high risk, it will be 69.5%. MPs and debt campaigners yesterday condemned the rate, which is 15 times the Bank of England base rate and triple the standard rate on other cards. The card also has an annual fee of £19.


Of Dog Sniffs and Packet Sniffs :.

This article assumes "intelligent packet search filters" aren't already operational. HA! What will change is that the use of the information will be used for law enforcement, and not just national security purposes:

The government may soon deploy "intelligent" packet search filters that will seek out only those communications that relate to criminal activity.

Yeah, buddy, it's called ECHELON. It's been around since the 1980s. *sigh*

Documentary: Aerosol Crimes (aka Chemtrails) :.

Link to a 68mb Windows Media Version:

Ann Coulter Steps in it Again :.

I start to feel sorry for twits after awhile. Poor Ann:

Coulter: "Canada used to be one of our most loyal friends and vice-versa. I mean Canada sent troops to Vietnam - was Vietnam less containable and more of a threat than Saddam Hussein?"

McKeown interrupts: "Canada didn't send troops to Vietnam."

Coulter: "I don't think that's right."

McKeown: "Canada did not send troops to Vietnam."

Coulter (looking desperate): "Indochina?"

McKeown: "Uh no. Canada ...second World War of course. Korea. Yes. Vietnam No."

Coulter: "I think you're wrong."

McKeown: "No, took a pass on Vietnam."

Coulter: "I think you're wrong."

McKeown: "No, Australia was there, not Canada."

Coulter: "I think Canada sent troops."

McKeown: "No."

Coulter: "Well. I'll get back to you on that."


Jobs and Wages Picture Remains Bleak for Millions in U.S. :.

The employment and general economic situation remained dismal for millions of American workers in January, amid signs that the so-called recovery may be slowing. While the official unemployment rate declined to 5.2 percent, payrolls increased by only 146,000, considerably less than predicted. Manufacturing jobs fell by 25,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, released February 4, also revised downward the number of jobs created in December, from 157,000 to 133,000.

Ironically, the decline in the official percentage of jobless resulted largely from the gloomier overall employment outlook, i.e., a larger number of people discouraged from even embarking on a search for work leads to a falling unemployment rate and official claims that the “economy is on track.”

The US labor force participation rate fell in January to 65.8 percent, the lowest since May 1988 and 1.5 percent lower than its most recent peak in April 2000. This means a decline of some 3.4 million people on the job market since that latter date.

Wall Street analysts had predicted an increase of 200,000 new jobs in January. Rick Egelton, of BMO Financial Group, told Reuters, “[It’s] certainly weaker than expected, quite a bit weaker than expected. It suggests that employment is continuing to expand at a moderate pace and we are not getting the boost to employment that we would have gotten given the low value of the dollar and the still relatively low interest rate environment.”

Other economists cited in the media were blunter. Marie-Pierre Ripert, from IXIS Corporate and Investment Bank, told AFP, “The decline in the unemployment rate ... is due to a fall in the labor force participation rate, which is not good news.”

“The labor force is shrinking,” Peter Morici, economics professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, commented to Reuters. “The economy is not creating enough good paying jobs, causing workers to quit looking for jobs altogether.”

He added, to AFP, “The economy is slowing at an alarming pace. The primary culprit is the growing trade deficit, which is now more than 5 percent of gross domestic product. This is reflected in the declining fortunes of manufacturing.”

Students Required to Wear RFID Tags :.

Parents in a northern California public school district and civil liberties groups are urging a school district to terminate the mandatory use of Radio Frequency Identification tags ( RFIDs ) by students. Several civil liberties groups, including the ACLU of Northern California ( ACLU-NC ), Electronic Frontier Foundation ( EFF ), and the Electronic Privacy Information Center ( EPIC ) sent a letter today expressing alarm at the Brittan School District's use of mandatory ID badges that include a RFID device that tracks the students' movements. The device transmits private information to a computer on campus whenever a student passes under one of the scanners. The ID badges also include the student's name, photo, grade, school name, class year and the four-digit school ID number. Students are required to prominently display the badges by wearing them around the neck at all times.

Battle Bot: The Future of War? :.

Don't waste your time wondering about this. It's already happening:

While robots firing weapons on their own may be a decade or more away, even today's remote-controlled versions have changed the rules, he adds. By turning war into "a video game," the machines make it much easier for soldiers to kill without remorse by putting the human operator at "one remove" from the act of killing.

Fighting robots would be "on the short list" of seminal events in all of military history, he says, right alongside the development of iron weapons, gunpowder, and the atomic bomb.

Research Credit: AL

New Videos Show Predators at Work in Iraq :.

UAVs provide close air support in Iraq. If anyone has these videos, let me know:

Newly released military video reveals unmanned U.S. Predators firing Hellfire missiles to rescue U.S. troops under fire in Iraq and destroy insurgent targets.

The U.S. Air Force released 10 video clips Tuesday in response to requests from CNN and other television networks. The black and white footage, all from the summer and fall of 2004, shows what officials say are insurgents planting roadside bombs, firing at U.S. positions and gathering to attack U.S. troops.

The video came from sensors on Air Force Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, which can operate several miles away from positions they target and monitor.

Predators can either be armed or unarmed. The video came from armed aircraft.

Some of the footage was a clip of Marines under sniper assault during an August battle in Najaf. A Predator responds to a call for air support and fires Hellfire missiles at the building housing the sniper. The building crumbles in an explosion.

Another clip shows insurgents gathered around armed trucks. The cross-hairs of the Predator locks onto one of the trucks and a missile destroys it.

Air Force officials did not provide many details about the footage.

Pilots more than 7,000 away in Nevada, control the unmanned planes from their post at Nellis Air Force Base. Their sophisticated cockpits resemble a high-priced video game.

Predator crews, which have a pilot and sensor operator, run the craft 24 hours, rotating in three-hour shifts. Predator teams are trained to look for signs of insurgent activity such as the planting of roadside bombs.

The Air Force uses the planes for reconnaissance and attack missions, but ground troops also provide information about target locations, Air Force officials say. Langley Air Force Base in Virginia analyzes images Predators gather.

Most of the Air Force's 58 Predators are deployed around the world, but officials could not discuss the locations.

Bush: Working Three Jobs is Uniquely American :.

MS. MORNIN: That's good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute.

THE PRESIDENT: You work three jobs?

MS. MORNIN: Three jobs, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that
you're doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)


Regular Job... for the Moment

The IT recruiter placed me with a company for a few weeks, believe it or not. Between the PHB, and working for my brother, I'm going to be run pretty ragged. If I don't respond to your email, you'll know why.

Premium Content: Guess on the Nature of the Strange .Mil Domain

Contributors, check your email.

The CIA and Nazi War Criminals :.

Old news, but you may now read about it on CIA letterhead:

Washington D.C., February 4, 2005 - Today the National Security Archive posted the CIA's secret documentary history of the U.S government's relationship with General Reinhard Gehlen, the German army's intelligence chief for the Eastern Front during World War II. At the end of the war, Gehlen established a close relationship with the U.S. and successfully maintained his intelligence network (it ultimately became the West German BND) even though he employed numerous former Nazis and known war criminals.

Bend Over: Bush Budget Oblivion :.

Even as President Bush proposes deep cuts in healthcare, farm subsidies and other domestic programs, his new budget makes one thing clear about the legacy of his first term in the White House: The era of big government is back.

Bush's $2.6-trillion budget for 2006, if approved by Congress, would be more than one-third bigger than the budget he inherited four years ago. It is a monument to how much Republicans' guiding fiscal philosophy has changed over the 10 years since the GOP "Contract With America" called for a balanced budget and abolition of entire Cabinet agencies.

No longer are Republicans arguing with Democrats about whether government should be big or small. They are at odds over what kind of big government the United States should have.

Dollar Hits 3-Month High Against Euro :.

Remember the headlines about B Gates shorting the dollar? Thinking it was a short term, fear driven fake out, I wrote this:
This story might be true, but be careful. When news like this hits the mainstream media, it's usually meant to drive the dumb money to slaugher for tactical purposes. In other words, go the other way, at least in the short term... or better yet, just wait. If I was trading this, which I'm not, rather than trying to play an upside move, I'd wait for the suckers to get shaken loose during a strong short squeeze. As they're desperately trying to cover---because the dollar appears to be headed up up up up!---look to short that pig. The thing is going down, but getting the timing right, actually pulling the trigger on something like this, is much harder.
Who knows how long the short squeeze will last? I wish I knew.

Iraq Shiite Leaders Demand Islam be the Source of Law :.


Iraq's Shiite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and another top cleric staked out a radical demand that Islam be the sole source of legislation in the country's new constitution.

One cleric issued a statement setting out the position and the spiritual leader of Iraqi Shiites made it known straight away that he backed demands for the Koran to be the reference point for legislation.


GOP Proposes Bill that Would Suspend ALL Laws :.

On January 26, 2005, Rep. Sensenbrenner introduced the REAL ID Act of 2005 (H.R. 418). In the name of homeland security, it includes a number of items changing immigration laws, use of drivers' licenses, etc.

But -- most overlooked -- is Section 102 of this bill. It would empower the Secretary of Homeland Security to suspend any and all laws in order to ensure the "expeditious" construction of a set of barriers and roads south of San Diego, to keep illegal immigrants out. It also would prohibit ANY judicial review of the Secretary of Homeland Security's decision to suspend any law. ON EDIT: While the law the bill references mentions barriers and roads "near San Diego," it does not appear to be (technically speaking) limited to that area -- but to any barriers or roads "in the vicinity of the United States border."

Central Bank Leaders Warn U.S. Over Massive Deficits :.

Some of the world's major central bankers warned the United States on Friday that the international community could be running out of patience with the massive U.S. budget and trade deficits that is pushing the dollar lower and increasing the cost of their exports in America.

Russia Abandons Effort to Tie Dollar, Ruble :.

Russia has abandoned efforts to tie the ruble's movement to the dollar and has decided to instead shadow both the dollar and the euro.

The move has caused experts to predict that other countries could institute similar policies, the Financial Times reported Saturday.

The move has also caused speculation that Russia may denominate its oil exports, 81 percent of which goes to Europe, in euros. Russia is second only to Saudi Arabia in oil exports.

Bush's Budget Axe to Fall on Poor :.

Useless eaters:

President Bush is proposing to reduce spending on public health and social welfare in the US to help pay for tax cuts and the war in Iraq, according to early reports of today's White House budget.

In an attempt to keep government spending under control at a time of record deficits, Mr Bush's proposals to Congress will include cuts in public housing subsidies, in health projects aimed at diseases related to poverty, and in food stamps, which help America's poorest buy groceries.


Colorado Teens Fined for Giving Cookies to Neighbor :.

Funny, I was just thinking about how long it would take for me to get arrested/sued if I tried to keep a few chickens in the backyard:

A Colorado judge ordered two teen-age girls to pay about $900 for the distress a neighbor said they caused by giving her home-made cookies adorned with paper hearts.

The pair were ordered to pay $871.70 plus $39 in court costs after neighbor Wanita Renea Young, 49, filed a lawsuit complaining that the unsolicited cookies, left at her house after the girls knocked on her door, had triggered an anxiety attack that sent her to the hospital the next day.

Taylor Ostergaard, then 17, and Lindsey Jo Zellitte, 18, paid the judgment on Thursday after a small claims court ruling by La Plata County Court Judge Doug Walker, a court clerk said on Friday.

The girls baked cookies as a surprise for several of their rural Colorado neighbors on July 31 and dropped off small batches on their porches, accompanied by red or pink paper hearts and the message: "Have a great night."

The Denver Post newspaper reported on Friday that the girls had decided to stay home and bake the cookies rather than go to a dance where there might be cursing and drinking.

Journalists Paid to Write for Military Web Site :.

Rumsfeld's flunky will definitely get to the bottom of this. Tell me another one:

The Pentagon’s chief investigator is looking into the military’s practice of paying journalists to write articles and commentary for a Web site aimed at influencing public opinion in the Balkans, officials said Friday.

At the request of Larry Di Rita, chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the Pentagon’s inspector general, Joseph Schmitz, is reviewing that case and also looking more broadly at Pentagon activities that might involve inappropriate payments to journalists.

Music Industry Sues 83-Year-Old Dead Woman :.

RIAA twits continue to win over hearts and minds...

Gertrude Walton was recently targeted by the recording industry in a lawsuit that accused her of illegally trading music over the Internet. But Walton died in December after a long illness, and according to her daughter, the 83-year-old hated computers.

"My mother was computer illiterate. She hated a computer," Chianumba said. "My mother wouldn't know how to turn on a computer."


Cryptogon Readers Contribute $80

KH $30 - We go waaaaaaay back. Thanks, momma!

PP $50 - PP was tempted by the recent offer of premium content about the weird .mil agency and the information it was after:
Damn you for raising my curiosity!

Actually, keep up the good work, always meant to help you out but now you make it irresistible.
Thanks PP!

Sites You Might Enjoy - Dan's young mind has been warped by sites like WRH, GNN and Cryptogon. He coded IP from scratch. Nice work! - More excellent coverage.

Master List Of Dead Scientists & Microbiologists :.

This is the most extensive list I've seen.

Allawi Faces Defeat as Iraqi Cleric's Team Leads the Polls :.

I don't remember the name of the analyst, but something like a year ago, he said that if legitimate elections were allowed in Iraq, they would produce a Iran-alligned Shia theocracy in short order. Well, my hat is off that that man.

Allawi is losing? This is really weird. It's about as weird as the U.S. NOT finding WMDs in Iraq. (I'm still scratching my head over that one.) The WMD debacle and this election were events the U.S. should have been able to easily manage, but for some reason, didn't. WMDs should have been found. Allawi should have won.


We must assume the election outcome was managed, but if that's the case, how does a Sistani victory play into overall U.S. geostrategy in the region? I'm drawing a blank here, people.

I like Mike's commentary on this:
This is interesting. The United States overthrew the only secular government in the Middle East, imposed elections, whereupon it looks like the Iraqi people will vote in the very sort of theocracy the US has denounced in other Arab nations. And, it gets even better. If Sistani wins (and survives the event), his first official act will be to tell the US to get the heck out of Iraq.

Something "dramatic" will have to happen if Bush plans to use Iraq for the invasion of Iran and Syria.
From the Independent UK:

The coalition of Iyad Allawi, the Iraqi interim Prime Minister appointed by the Americans, is heading for election defeat at the hands of a list backed by the country's senior Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, partial results released yesterday indicate.

The results from Baghdad - where Mr Allawi was expected to do well - show the one-time CIA protégé with only 140,364 votes compared to 350,069 for the alliance, which is headed by a Shia cleric who lived in Iran for many years.

Among the mostly five Shia provinces tallied so far, the alliance's lead is even wider. It has 1.1 million of the 1.6 million votes counted at 10 per cent of polling centres in the capital and the Shia south. Mr Allawi's list was second with 360,500.

"Large numbers of Shia voted along sectarian lines," said Sharif Ali bin Hussein, head of the Constitutional Monarchy Party. "Americans are in for a shock. A lot of people in the country are going to wake up in shock."

Principal Bans 'Anti-Military,' 'Anti-American' Materials :.

A Cookeville (Tenn.) High School administrator said Veterans for Peace and a Quaker group can't come back into his school with materials considered "anti-American" and "anti-military."

The groups plan to go before the Putnam County school board tomorrow with claims that they're being denied privileges afforded to other organizations, including military recruiters.

The war veterans, some who also belong to the Quaker group, were allowed into the school during a September fair for organizations. They set up a table with books about U.S. wars and offered photocopied fliers and pamphlets from both organizations about the war in Iraq and military careers and alternatives.

Government Won't Withhold Payments to Halliburton :.

Imagine my shock!

The Pentagon has deviated from its normal procedures by deciding not to withhold payments to Houston's Halliburton Co. for failing to complete the paperwork to justify the billings.

Last summer, Pentagon auditors urged the Army Field Support Command to withhold 15 percent, or about $60 million a month, from Halliburton's reimbursements to prod the company to clear its books.

Halliburton officials had argued federal contracting rules for withholding payments did not apply to their contract to serve meals, wash clothes and provide other support.

The Pentagon's decision follows a year of wrangling between military auditors and the company over billing practices.

Defense Department officials have concluded that rules that would allow for reimbursing only 85 percent do apply. But, they said Thursday, they've decided to make an exception.

The Pentagon has given the go-ahead to the Army Field Support Command to pay KBR's bills in full until at least June 30.

Under the current plan, the Field Support Command's contracting director will evaluate each of the 36 task orders with missing paperwork and decide whether to withhold any payments.

"This just gives the contracting people some breathing space," an Army spokeswoman said.

Government Keeping More Secrets in Name of National Security :.

Federal agencies are using secrecy rules developed after the 9/11 attacks to hide embarrassing or controversial reports and data that the federal government once routinely made public.

Environmental groups, scientific organizations and animal-rights advocates are complaining about increasing difficulties in obtaining information on what government inspectors are finding about worker safety at nuclear power plants, toxic releases at chemical plants, or tests on live animals in scientific laboratories.

Baby Boomers and Peak Oil :.

The bottom line is that the Baby Boomers growing old will take this thing down. Click through to check out the handy chart on PIMCO's site. As someone (I can't mention names because it's not allowed) on the Energy Round Table indicated, this really starts to impact as, guess what: Peak Oil starts to impact! matters little whether the system is pre-refunded with Treasury bonds or privately held stocks. The fact is that both of these financial assets represent a call on future production. If that production could possibly be saved, like squirrels ferreting away nuts for a long winter, then Treasury IOUs or corporate stocks might make some sense. But they can’t. Future healthcare for boomer seniors can only be provided by today’s teenagers, twenty-somethings, and even the yet to be born. We cannot store their energy today for some future rainy day. Nor can we save food, transportation, or entertainment for anything more than a few years forward. Each must be provided by the existing generation of workers for those who have retired and are presumably incapable of working. And, as Chart I points out, the ratio of retirees to workers - the dependency ratio - soars from 0.2 retirees for every worker to 0.35 over the next 20 years or so. There’s your problem, and neither privatization nor any goodly number of government bonds deposited in the Social Security trust fund can solve it.

Abu Ghraib Torture Architect Is Now the U.S. Attorney General :.

The Senate confirmed Alberto Gonzales as the nation's first Latino attorney general Thursday, but Democrats registered a significant protest vote over his role as White House counsel in developing a widely condemned administration policy on the use of torture.

Where's Drupal?

I've been promising a shift of Cryptogon to a new content management system for a while now. So, what's the story?

The Drupal team has frozen the code for version 4.6 and they are now working on stability and testing. I don't want to make the change so close to a major release.

Bush to Seek $419.3 Billion for Defense, Doesn't Include Iraq and Afghanistan Costs :.

President Bush will ask Congress for $419.3 billion for the Pentagon for next year, 4.8 percent more than this year's spending as the administration seeks to beef up and reshape the Army and Marine Corps for fighting terrorism.

The request will not include money for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress already has appropriated $25 billion for those this year, and the White House is planning to request another $80 billion soon.

The president plans to roll out his military spending proposal Monday as part of a roughly $2.5 trillion overall federal budget. But documents obtained by The Associated Press show that he will request $19.2 billion more for the Department of Defense than its $400.1 billion budget this year.


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Bill Gates: "I'm Short the Dollar. The ol' Dollar, It's Gonna Go Down."

The following information is not a solicitation or recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security or financial instrument. Financial markets are a scam, and I recommend staying away from them entirely. But.... if you can't help yourself, read on:

This story might be true, but be careful. When news like this hits the mainstream media, it's usually meant to drive the dumb money to slaugher for tactical purposes. In other words, go the other way, at least in the short term... or better yet, just wait. If I was trading this, which I'm not, rather than trying to play an upside move, I'd wait for the suckers to get shaken loose during a strong short squeeze. As they're desperately trying to cover---because the dollar appears to be headed up up up up!---look to short that pig. The thing is going down, but getting the timing right, actually pulling the trigger on something like this, is much harder.

Decisions by the world's two wealthiest men to bet on a further weakening of the U.S. dollar, coupled with China's lack of confidence in American currency should grab the attention of every working person, says Craig Smith, CEO of Swiss America Trading.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is following the example of Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett, who made a pretax gain of $412 million in the fourth quarter of 2004 by buying foreign currencies.

Citing widening U.S. trade and budget deficits and a federal debt of $7.62 trillion, Gates said in a TV interview at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last weekend he expects the dollar to extend its three-year decline.

"I'm short the dollar," Gates said, according to Bloomberg News. "The ol' dollar, it's gonna go down."

Update: U.S. Dollar Gains on Euro :.

See what I mean!? HAHA:

The U.S. dollar gained on the euro Friday following the release of labor market data in Washington and a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

Premium Content: Strange .Mil Domain and the Search Originating from It

I will be sending recent contributors to Cryptogon details about a very weird hit from a .mil domain. Attempts to determine information about this organization in google and metasearch engines like dogpile resulted in nothing. No hits. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Cryptogon contributors will find out the name of the .mil agency (it's a good one, I promise) and exactly what this curious .mil agency was searching for.

They use ECHELON on us. I use Cryptogon on Them!

Increasingly, when I uncover choice tidbts of information like this, it's going to go out only to those who have helped keep me alive with much needing funding. When (and if) news of the agency, and its efforts, ever comes to light, you'll be able to make a devious smirk and then yawn knowing that you already got a private Cryptogon intelligence tip-off on this thing. Thanks to all contributors for supporting my efforts!

This data was free for everyone:


Guns Don't Kill People, Doctors Do :.

Statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.

General Electric Halts New Business Orders in Iran :.

Cocked and locked:

General Electric Co., which has been accused of collecting "blood money" by doing business in Iran, will stop accepting any new orders for business in the country, company officials said Wednesday.

The move by the world's largest company by market value comes just days after another conglomerate, Halliburton Co., announced the company will wind down its operations in Iran.

"We're seeing a turnaround by a number of U.S. companies operating in Iran," said Dan Katz, chief counsel to U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.

Katz said the moves may signal an imminent change in U.S. policy that has allowed foreign subsidiaries of American companies to do business in Iran.

Last year, Lautenberg accused GE and other American companies of collecting "blood money" by doing business with countries the United States says sponsors terrorism and said he would push for legislation to stop it. New York City comptroller William Thompson, as manager of employee pension funds, has also pressured GE and other companies.

New Republic Calls for Death and Torture of Arundhati Roy and Stan Goff :.

The words "libelous" and 'the New Republic" have a proud history of walking arm-in-arm. Now, in the esteemed tradition of [former TNR writer who peddled fiction as fact] Stephen Glass, The New Republic has stooped to a new low, publishing a piece that calls for violence, torture, and even death for leading leftists who dare oppose Bush's war on terror and the slaughter in Iraq.

Author Tom Frank -- clearly from the Glass School of Journalism the New Republic has made famous -- described sitting in on an anti-war panel sponsored by the International Socialist Organization, the Washington Peace Center, the DC Anti-War Network and other groups.

After having heard the 100 plus attendees cheer sentiments like "Money for Jobs and Education Not For War and Occupation," Frank became so riled up, he unloaded a deranged harangue about the suffering he would like to rain upon people daring to organize against this war. After Stan Goff, a former Delta Forces soldier and current organizer for Military Families Speak Out, expressed sentiments like "We ain't never resolved nothing through an election," Frank's jag began. Clearly too doughy to do it himself, Frank started to fantasize about a Teutonic strongman who could shut Goff up.

Frank writes, "What I needed was a Republican like Arnold [Schwarzenegger] who would walk up to [Goff] and punch him in the face."

U.S. Marine General: It's Fun to Shoot People :.

At a panel discussion in San Diego Tuesday, a top Marine general tells an audience that, among other things, it is "fun to shoot some people."

The comment, made by Lt. Gen. James Mattis, came in reference to fighting insurgents in Iraq. He went on to say, "Actually, its a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. I like brawling."

"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for 5 years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis continued. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."


Marines Miss January Goal for Recruits :.

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Marine Corps in January missed its monthly recruiting goal, in what military officials said was the latest troubling indicator of the Iraq war's impact on the armed services.

The struggles of the Army, the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard to recruit and retain soldiers have received national attention in recent months. But the recent failure of the Marines, who historically have had the luxury of turning away willing recruits, is a potential problem for the service.

The Biodiesel Red Herring :.

I hate to break it to ya: Mainstream biodiesel is a scam, a red herring. I think it's great that people can independently make their own fuel for small scale agriculture purposes and light transportation, but there is simply no way that biodiesel can take over as a mainstream fuel. Biodiesel might prevent the oil crash from impacting for a few more months or years (at best), but it's not even close to a viable solution for the problems we face.

Biodiesel advocates like to ignore these questions:

Question: Where does the fertilizer come from to grow the soybeans?

Answer: Natural gas, supplies of which are dwindling.

Question: Assuming there was fertilizer to grow the soybeans, how much land would be required for a largescale shift to biodiesel?

Answer: An area roughly the size of 10 Iowas, just for biofuels. Growing food? Well, that's a different matter.

Question: Assuming enough biodiesel could be produced, what happens when your car needs new tires, hoses, and everything else made out of petroleum products?

Answer: Scratch head and then try to suck a little more oil out of the ground...

Never mind all of that. Enjoy your free-love, granola and biodiesel while you can:

Farmers in the heartland are trying to cash in on America's growing infatuation with biodiesel, the replacement for petroleum diesel that can be made from vegetable and animal oils and fats.

The farmers, soybean growers from Midwestern states, are enlisting the help of environmentalists and celebrities, to give them the hip, eco-friendly image they need to reach young adults and baby boomers.

Carlyle Group Seeking Hedge Against Dollar Collapse... in China? :.

Colby said the deals in the pipeline would include a US$400 million investment in an insurance company, which was billed as one of the largest private equity transactions in China. Although Colby didn't name the insurance firm, sources close to the deal said the company in question was China Pacific Life Insurance, the country’s third-biggest insurer.

"We are focused on financial services, and that's why (we're targeting) insurance, as it's a surrogate for tapping on savings," said Colby.


SBC Will Eliminate 13,000 Jobs in AT&T Merger :.

SBC Communications Inc. (SBC) and AT&T Corp. (T) aim to eliminate about 13,000 jobs as part of their merger announced Monday.

SBC Chief Financial Officer Rick Lindner gave that job cut estimate during a meeting with analysts in New York Tuesday.

Inauguration Pepper Spray Hose Down :.

Meanwhile, Joe and Jane Six Pack thank Jesus for the cops.

Insider Selling Madness :.

HAHA! Suckers going long here are going to be walking funny after this thing unwinds!

Kucinich Demands Broad Investigation Of Missing $9 Billion In Iraq :.

Tell Cheney to empty his pockets:

Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH), the Ranking Member on the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, today demanded a broad investigation of the $9 billion in missing reconstruction funds in Iraq, including a criminal investigation and Congressional hearings.

Kucinich will send two letters today calling for a full investigation into the missing $9 billion in funds in Iraq. One letter will be sent to Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT), Chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, requesting an immediate Congressional hearing. The second letter will be sent to United States Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales demanding a criminal investigation, including a grand jury, by the United States Department of Justice.

"In view of this Administration's tendency for covert or secret operations, there is no assurance that these funds were not misused for illegal or unauthorized activities," stated Kucinich. "The Administration, the Department of Defense, and Coalition Provisional Authority must be held directly responsible for this staggering lack of accountability of $9 billion. If ever there was a reason for a grand jury to start asking questions of high ranking federal government officials, this is it."

Guantanamo Tribunals 'Unconstitutional' :.

A US judge ruled today that the Guantanamo military tribunals for terrorism suspects are unconstitutional.

In a setback for the Bush administration, US District Judge Joyce Hens Green also ruled the prisoners at the US military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have constitutional protections under the law.

"The court concludes that the petitioners have stated valid claims under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and that the procedures implemented by the government to confirm that the petitioners are 'enemy combatants' subject to indefinite detention violate the petitioners' rights to due process of law," Green wrote.

Germany Requires Woman to Work as a Prostitute to Receive Unemployment Benefits :.

A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services" at a brothel in Berlin faces cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

Prostitution was legalised in Germany two years ago and brothel owners - who must pay tax and employee health insurance - were granted access to official databases of job seekers.

The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe. She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile" and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did she realise she was calling a brothel.

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month, to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest level since reunification in 1990.

DOJ Asks for Outrageous FOIA Fees :.

People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) President Ralph G. Neas said today that a Justice Department demand for nearly $400,000 in fees for a FOIA request regarding the decision to seal the records of immigrants detained in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks is outrageous, and another in a series of strategies to deny access to public information.

“Apparently, they’ve taken the ‘free’ out of ‘Freedom of Information.’ If you want to learn about secret trials carried out by your government with your money, you’re going to need deep pockets,” said Neas.

Weird New York Subway Fire :.

If a bum can do this, why haven't the "real" terrorists taken this thing completely down?

A subway line serving tens of thousands of New Yorkers a day was knocked out of service and another severely limited, possibly for years, because of a fire that authorities said may have been set by a homeless person trying to stay warm.

It will take "several millions of dollars and several years" to rebuild hundreds of relays, switches and circuits that track train signals and locations, NYC Transit President Lawrence Reuter said.

It was the most serious damage to the subway's infrastructure since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which destroyed tracks and stations underneath the World Trade Center, Reuter said.

The fire was set Sunday in a shopping cart in or near the Chambers Street station in lower Manhattan, fire officials said. It ignited cables above the platform and spread to a room full of switching and signal equipment, said NYC Transit's parent agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Update: Woops, Forget the Bum Theory, Case Closed :.

Less than two weeks after a relayroom fire in a subway station at Chambers Street disrupted service for more than a half-million subway riders, the New York Fire Department terminated its investigation into the blaze yesterday, without ascertaining its cause.

Initially, the Fire Department classified the blaze as "incendiary," or resulting from a fire that was set, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority assigned blame for the fire to an unidentified homeless person, citing reports of debris burning in a shopping cart and testimony by witnesses about a mysterious vagrant with a Mexican style poncho lurking around the subway station near the time of the fire.

Police eventually located the poncho-wearer but did not take him into custody, and the homeless-igniter theory was downplayed as an "assumption" by the police commissioner, Raymond Kelly. Yesterday, the fire's official status was changed from "incendiary" to "not ascertained," meaning the cause could not be determined.

"This case is basically closed," a Fire Department official said.


:. Reading

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture by Andrew Kimbrell Readers will come to see that industrial food production is indeed a "fatal harvest" - fatal to consumers, as pesticide residues and new disease vectors such as E. coli and "mad cow disease" find their way into our food supply; fatal to our landscapes, as chemical runoff from factory farms poison our rivers and groundwater; fatal to genetic diversity, as farmers rely increasingly on high-yield monocultures and genetically engineered crops; and fatal to our farm communities, which are wiped out by huge corporate farms.

Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America by Bertram Myron Gross This is a relatively short but extremely cogent and well-argued treatise on the rise of a form of fascistic thought and social politics in late 20th century America. Author Bertram Gross' thesis is quite straightforward; the power elite that comprises the corporate, governmental and military superstructure of the country is increasingly inclined to employ every element in their formidable arsenal of 'friendly persuasion' to win the hearts and minds of ordinary Americans through what Gross refers to as friendly fascism.

The Good Life
by Scott and Helen Nearing
Helen and Scott Nearing are the great-grandparents of the back-to-the-land movement, having abandoned the city in 1932 for a rural life based on self-reliance, good health, and a minimum of cash...Fascinating, timely, and wholly useful, a mix of the Nearings' challenging philosophy and expert counsel on practical skills.

Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of Our Common Wealth by David Bollierd In Silent Theft, David Bollier argues that a great untold story of our time is the staggering privatization and abuse of our common wealth. Corporations are engaged in a relentless plunder of dozens of resources that we collectively own—publicly funded medical breakthroughs, software innovation, the airwaves, the public domain of creative works, and even the DNA of plants, animals and humans. Too often, however, our government turns a blind eye—or sometimes helps give away our assets. Amazingly, the silent theft of our shared wealth has gone largely unnoticed because we have lost our ability to see the commons.

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It: The Complete Back-To-Basics Guide by John Seymour The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It is the only book that teaches all the skills needed to live independently in harmony with the land harnessing natural forms of energy, raising crops and keeping livestock, preserving foodstuffs, making beer and wine, basketry, carpentry, weaving, and much more.

When Corporations Rule the World by David C. Korten When Corporations Rule the World explains how economic globalization has concentrated the power to govern in global corporations and financial markets and detached them from accountability to the human interest. It documents the devastating human and environmental consequences of the successful efforts of these corporations to reconstruct values and institutions everywhere on the planet to serve their own narrow ends.

The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener This expansion of a now-classic guide originally published in 1989 is intended for the serious gardener or small-scale market farmer. It describes practical and sustainable ways of growing superb organic vegetables, with detailed coverage of scale and capital, marketing, livestock, the winter garden, soil fertility, weeds, and many other topics.