Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Taser = Torture : Florida Student gets tasered (video)

Yep, some US police is at it again. This time it's the Police in Florida, tasering a student at the University of Florida:

The tactics of police in Florida who tasered a cheeky student as he tried to question former presidential candidate Senator John Kerry have been called into question after a video of the incident was posted on the internet. [..]

Event organisers were unhappy with his line of questioning and switched off the microphone as police officers moved in to escort him out of the hall.
Is this how it works at the University of Florida, "unhappy" questioning is responded to by taser?

Mr Meyer refused to leave quietly, and as police officers grabbed him, he repeatedly tried to wriggle free while shouting: “What did I do?”

So the student needs to be tasered?
After a scuffle, the police fired several thousand volts into Mr Meyer [..]
Did Kerry think taser-torture was the appropriate response for a student's "unhappy [..] line of questioning"?
Mr Kerry has criticised the arrest of Mr Meyer, suggesting that he could have dealt with the heckler himself.

"In 37 years of public appearances, through wars, protests and highly emotional events, I have never had a dialogue end this way. I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption,” he said.

What's even worse is that it appears that the student was taser-tortured after he was hand-cuffed:
Mr Meyer’s lawyer, Robert Griscti, said it appeared his client had been shocked after handcuffs had been put on him.
Tasering students, even resisting ones, is unacceptable. The University of Florida should be ashamed of how it treats their students, many paying tens of thousands of dollars to attend, not to be tasered!
Students at the university organised a protest yesterday and marched on the police station shouting “Don’t Tase me, bro” and demanding that stun guns were banned from campus.

Indeed, taser-torture should never be allowed to be used on students. Never.

Benjamin Dictor, an arts student, called for the officers to be disciplined and the charges against Mr Meyer to be dropped.

“For a question to be met with arrest, not to mention physical violence, is completely unacceptable in the United States, especially in the halls of education,” Mr Dictor said.

I'm afraid the reality is quite different. See for yourself:

-Times Online: full article
-Wikipedia: taser
-University of Florida
- Erik's articles on: Taser

Monday, September 17, 2007

Blackwater explained (videos)

Jeremy Scahill, author of "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army", explains (video) the rise of this company:

Here he talks about the latest developments with CNN:

Private US mercenary army Blackwater banned from Iraq

From Al Jazeera
September 17, 2008

The Iraqi interior ministry has cancelled the operating license of a US security firm [Blackwater USA] after it was involved in a shootout that killed eight people, a senior official said.

Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a ministry spokesman, said 13 people were wounded when Blackwater USA staff opened fire in a Baghdad incident involving an attack on a US motorcade.

"The interior minister has issued an order to cancel Blackwater's licence and the company is prohibited from operating anywhere in Iraq," Khalaf said on Monday.

"We have opened a criminal investigation against the group who committed the crime."

The spokesman said witness reports pointed to Blackwater's involvement but said the incident, in a predominantly Sunni area of western Baghdad on Sunday, was still under investigation.

US troops are immune from prosecution in Iraq under the UN resolution that authorises their presence, but Khalaf said the exemption did not apply to private security companies.

Full Article

- AL Jazeera: Iraq ends US security firm licence
- Wikipedia: Blackwater
- Wikipedia: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
- Wikipedia: mercenary

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Even Alan Greenspan agrees; Iraq war is really for oil

From The Sunday Times
September 16, 2007
Alan Greenspan claims Iraq war was really for oil
Graham Paterson

AMERICA’s elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken the White House by declaring that the prime motive for the war in Iraq was oil.

In his long-awaited memoir, to be published tomorrow, Greenspan, a Republican whose 18-year tenure as head of the US Federal Reserve was widely admired, will also deliver a stinging critique of President George W Bush’s economic policies.

However, it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion that is likely to provoke the most controversy. “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he says.

Greenspan, 81, is understood to believe that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the security of oil supplies in the Middle East.

- Times Online: Alan Greenspan claims Iraq war was really for oil
Graham Paterson

- Wikipedia: Alan Greenspan
- Wikipedia: War in Iraq

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Apple, the bully

From PC World - written by Mike Elgan
Friday, September 7, 2007

Is Apple the new Microsoft?

Don't look now, but the role of the industry's biggest bully is increasingly played by Apple, not Microsoft.

Ten years ago, Microsoft was the company everyone loved to hate.

The most vociferous Microsoft haters slammed the company for being a greedy industry bully that used its monopolistic, clunky, copycat operating system to force software on users and coerce partners into unfair licensing deals.

Don't look now, but the role of the industry's biggest bully is increasingly played by Apple, not Microsoft. Here's a look at how Apple has shoved Microsoft aside as the company with the worst reputation as a monopolist, copycat and a bully.

Apple the monopolist

The core complaint about Microsoft in the 1990s was that its Windows market share gave it monopoly power, which it abused in multiple ways. Attorneys General and others zeroed in on the "bundling" of the Internet Explorer Web browser, which they claimed was forced on users because Microsoft offered it as part of Windows.

People love iPods (including me; my family of four has purchased 12 iPods in the past few years). But iPods come bundled with iTunes. Want to buy music from Apple? Guess what? You must install iTunes. Want an Apple cell phone from AT&T? Yep! ITunes is required even if you want only to make phone calls. Want to buy ringtones for your Apple phone? ITunes.

Apple not only "bundles" iTunes with multiple products, it forces you to use it. At least with Internet Explorer, you could always just download a competitor and ignore IE. [...]

And "bundling" works. Steve Jobs bragged this week that Apple has distributed 600 million copies of iTunes to date. The overwhelming majority of those copies were iTunes for Windows. And iTunes for Windows' popularity isn't driven by software product quality. ITunes is the slowest, clunkiest, most nonintuitive application on my system. But I need it because I love my iPods. (more)

- Read the whole story: PC WORLD - Is Apple the new Microsoft?

Does Telus have blood on his hands?

Those of us fortunate enough to be able to pay Telus phone bills will probably have noticed this on their regular phone bill:

.13 per month for 911 service
Now, this might not look like a lot of money to anyone, but if you multiply this by the amount of customers Telus has ($10.8 million customers), and multiply it again by 12 (1 year) then we can all agree that $16.848.000 (almost $17 million dollars, year after year) is a substantial amount of money, good enough to keep this important service in perfect shape, right?

Not so:
Greater Victoria's 911 system suffered a "database failure" the day of the quadruple murder-suicide in a posh Victoria suburb and rerouted a call from a screaming woman inside the home to the wrong dispatch centre.

A 911 call in any of the area's 13 municipalities is supposed to be routed to the nearest emergency dispatch centre based on a database of numbers and addresses held by Telus.

However, a "database failure" hit the service on Sept. 3 and 4, confirmed Telus spokesman Shawn Hall.

Now, things can happen right? But you'd think with roughly $17 million dollars (yearly) to spend on a system that deals with life-and-death situations, Telus would have some sort of backup system, right?

Not so:
[The database failure] meant a 911 call from inside the home of a murder-suicide in Oak Bay was misdirected to Victoria before being eventually transferred to Saanich - which handles Oak Bay's calls. [...]

At 3:06 a.m., a woman inside called 911 screaming for help because of a fight, a fire and a knife. That call lasted one minute, said Hall.

The woman either hung up or was somehow disconnected at least once. [...]

Inside the home, officers found the bodies of four adults and a six-year-old child. The B.C. Coroners Service has declared it a murder-suicide.

This murder tragedy might have had a complete different outcome if Telus would have had a backup system that would kick in as soon some sort of system failure occurs. Given the importance of having a 100% reliable 911 system and the amount of money they pull in yearly (close to 17 million) from mandatory individual 911 contributions, there's no other conclusion to make than that Telus dropped the ball, big time. Four people dead.

- Wikipedia: Telus
- Telus: 911 call misdirected during quadruple murder-suicide

Friday, September 07, 2007

Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine" (video): Watch it, then buy it, then read it

The latest book by Naomi Klein is called "Shock Doctrine - The Rise of Disaster Capitalism"

Watch the movie, then buy the book and read it.

- Wikipedia: Naomi Klein
- YouTube: Shock Doctrine, the movie

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Nuclear warheads flighing over the US; no worries, it's all good.

You really can't make stuff like this up. While Bush and Co. is fighting terrorists abroad this happened last week in the US:

An US military aeroplane mistakenly carried five nuclear warheads attached to cruise missiles across the country, a newspaper has reported.

The B-52 bomber carried the missiles between air bases in North Dakota and Louisiana as part of a programme to take 400 missiles out of service, the Military Times quoted three officers as saying.

The officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the nuclear warheads should have been removed before the missiles were mounted under the aircraft's wings for the August 30 flight.
So let me get this straight;

The US is fighting their war in Iraq based on (non-existing) weapons of mass destruction, yet they have no problem loosing some of their own WMD out of sight for a while.

The error was not discovered until the bomber completed its three-and-a-half-hour flight, the officers said.

Sounds like incompetence rules down south. But don't be afraid, everything is under control:
Lieutenant-Colonel Ed Thomas, a US air force spokesman, told the Military Times that the weapons were under control at all times.

The US Military is so smart; they've got everything under control even when they're not aware of it. God bless.