Friday, October 8, 2010

Nobel Peace Prize An Obscenity, Stuxnet Worm And Foreign Satellites, Big Brother Is Tracking You

Eugene Robinson
Lloyd Grove
Drew Westen

"I'd like to meet the pundit or prognosticator who imagined that a major-party candidate for the U.S. Senate would begin a campaign ad by declaring, "I'm not a witch." - Eugene Robinson
“I’m serious about this. Many people have asked me to run. I have never seen the country in the state that it’s in, and now I am considering it.” - Donald Trump

Now that Liu Xiaobo has won the Nobel Peace Prize, will China let him out of jail to attend the ceremony in Dec? Liu was jailed for 11 years for writing a document called Charter 08, that was put on the Internet and signed by 10,000 people before it was taken down by the Chinese government. There isn't anything radical in the document, calling for the right to free assembly, the right to free expression, and the right to religious practice, among other political reforms.
The head of the Nobel prize committee said that Xiaobo deserved the Peace Prize because: "The campaign to establish universal human rights also in China is being waged by many Chinese, both in China itself and abroad. Through the severe punishment meted out to him, Liu has become the foremost symbol of this wide-ranging struggle for human rights in China."

As expected, the Chinese government hasn't taken very kindly to the award, this seems to hurt more than when the Dalai Lama won in 1989. Officials have been crying out that it is an obscenity, a perversion of the peace prize, and they are making ominous gestures towards Norway, promising some vile sort of payback. OK, the terms were said in much more diplomatically vague terms, the Chinese foreign minister issued a: "warning that the "unfriendly gesture" of honoring Liu with the prize "would have negative consequences" for bilateral relations between China and Norway." And here everyone thought that after giving the last Peace Prize to Barack Obama, the committee would play it safe and chose someone from a smaller, innocuous country with less resources to bite back. To make it worse, Liu is said to be a really nice, humble guy, who has long practiced his beliefs in human rights; he was the person that persuaded the protesters in Tianamen Square to leave just before the soldiers arrived to beat and arrest them all. He was put in jail for that, too... So far there has been no mention of Xiaobo winning in the Shanghai Daily, only a brief paragraph in the South China Morning Post, and the Asia Times, published in Hong Kong, pretty much tip-toes around the controversy...

Lost in the Pakistani government's complaints about drone strikes and helicopters launching missiles in their country, the target was Mohammad Usman, who was the chief planners of covert operations for al-Qaeda in that area. The eight German nationals that were found dead from the attacks were probably there learning the details of some terrorist plan that Usman had created for Germany. The excuse that somebody in Bagram prison gave up intelligence of plots in Europe was a decoy, a made-up story to divert attention away from Usman's death, for some reason.

But, let's let's talk of failing satellites that could dangerously fall back to earth from decaying orbits. OK, not really. But more seriously, is the threat that the Stuxnet virus infiltrated and shut down satellites from India, China, and Japan during the same time period that Iran's nuclear facility was infected. The virus has to have a person with a USB memory stick with the virus on it, and physically attach it to a Windows computer, so that it can upload to that closed system. Who has access to Iran's nuclear site, and the highly secure areas of satellite control for India, Japan, and China? Or is it all just a crazy coincidence that these satellites failed in the same time period?

Actually, the Chinese satellite had failure with its onboard fuel tank, so that may not be subject to the computer worm. Japan's satellite was a spy satellite, and they aren't giving out any specifics what happened. India's satellite was a communications satellite, and it used Siemens control software. The Stuxnet worm is activated once it comes into contact with Siemans products, and India is now having all kinds of problems with the worm, also. For global security experts, the spreading of the Stuxnet worm doesn't just point towards Israel, and may be more insidious than we realize. So far there haven't been any ransom demands by evil villains, but the threat of cyber-warfare that can bring a country's infrastructure down overnight may not be that far off...

Let's throw this into the fire over whether the government can track you, wiretap you, or investigate you without any probable cause. It seems the war in Iraq and Pakistan is being brought home, and not in any good way. Here is a link to a story of the FBI investigating an Egyptian - American citizen and attaching a tracking device on his car for no other reason than he is Muslim.

According to a report on, a 20-year-old Arab-American college student was visited by several FBI agents after he found and removed an apparent government tracking device from his car.

"The student, Yasir Afifi, told Wired he found the device on his car after taking it to a mechanic. He removed the device and posted a photo of it online (which you can see at the left). Then, he says, he got a visit from FBI agents.

The FBI has refused to comment on an "ongoing investigation." But according to Afifi, several agents showed up at his California apartment a few days after the photos were posted. Readers had identified it as a tracking device that's only sold to law enforcement agencies.
"We're here to recover the device you found on your vehicle. It's federal property. It's an expensive piece, and we need it right now," one agent said. When Afifi asked if they had put it there, the man, who identified himself as Vincent said, "Yeah, I put it there. We're going to make this much more difficult for you if you don't cooperate." You know, if some brave tea party candidate said that if they were elected they would get rid of most of the intelligence agencies and make sure that our freedoms are not encroached or taken away, instead of dufus things like getting rid of the Education Dept. or Social Security, I would vote for them. When we start using drones to police our traffic lights or the streets of our cities at night, you will know that we have come too far and unable to back out of our science fictional, Orwellian nightmare...

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