Monday, November 26, 2007

White House And Iraq Agree On "Principles" For Permanent US Presence

TPM Muckraker | Spencer Ackerman | November 26, 2007 02:25 PM

So it begins. After years of obfuscation and denial on the length of the U.S.'s stay in Iraq, the White House and the Maliki government have released a joint declaration of "principles" for "friendship and cooperation." Apparently President Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed the declaration during a morning teleconference.

Naturally, the declaration is euphemistic, and doesn't refer explicitly to any U.S. military presence.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Internet Could Max Out in 2 Years, Study Says

PC World
Saturday, November 24, 2007; 2:19 PM

Consumer and corporate use of the Internet could overload the current capacity and lead to brown-outs in two years unless backbone providers invest billions of dollars in new infrastructure, according to a study released last week.

A flood of new video and other Web content could overwhelm the Internet by 2010 unless backbone providers invest up to $137 billion in new capacity, more than double what service providers plan to invest, according to thestudy, by Nemertes Research Group, an independent analysis firm. In North America alone, backbone investments of $42 billion to $55 billion will be needed in the next three to five years to keep up with demand, Nemertes said.

The study is the first to "apply Moore's Law (or something very like it) to the pace of application innovation on the 'Net," the study says. "Our findings indicate that although core fiber and switching/routing resources will scale nicely to support virtually any conceivable user demand, Internet access infrastructure, specifically in North America, will likely cease to be adequate for supporting demand within the next three to five years."

The study confirms long-time concerns of the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), an advocacy group focused on upgrading U.S. broadband networks, said Bruce Mehlman, co-chairman of the group. The group, with members including AT&T, Level 3 Communications, Corning, Americans for Tax Reform and the American Council of the Blind, has been warning people of the coming "exaflood" of video and other Web content that could clog its pipes.

The study gives "good, hard, unique data" on the IIA concerns about network capacity, Mehlman said. The Nemertes study suggests demand for Web applications such as streaming and interactive video, peer-to-peer file transfers and music downloads will accelerate, creating a demand for more capacity. Close to three-quarters of U.S. Internet users watched an average of 158 minutes of video in May and viewed more than 8.3 billion video streams, according to research from comScore, an analysis group.

Internet users will create 161 exabytes of new data this year, and this exaflood is a positive development for Internet users and businesses, IIA says. An exabyte is 1 quintillion bytes or about 1.1 billion gigabytes. One exabyte is the equivalent of about 50,000 years of DVD quality video.

Carriers and policy makers need to be aware of this demand, Mehlman added.

"Video has unleased an explosion of Internet content," Mehlman said. "We think the exaflood is generally not well understood, and its investment implications not well defined."

The responsibility for keeping up with this growing demand lies with backbone providers and national policy makers, added Mehlman, also executive director of the Technology CEO Council, a trade group, and a former assistant secretary of technology policy in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

"It takes a digital village," he said. "Certainly, infrastructure providers have plenty to do. You've seen billions in investment, and you're seeing ongoing billions more."

U.S. lawmakers can also help in several ways, he said. For example, the U.S. Congress could require that home contractors who receive government assistance for building affordable housing include broadband connections in their houses, he said. Congress could also provide tax credits to help broadband providers add more capacity, he said.

Consumers also pay high taxes for telecommunication services, averaging about 13 percent on some telecom services, similar to the tax rate on tobacco and alcohol, Mehlman said. One tax on telecom service has remained in place since the 1898 Spanish-American War, when few U.S. residents had telephones, he noted.

"We think it's a mistake to treat telecom like a luxury and tax it like a sin," he said.


Taliban control half of Afghanistan, says report

The Taliban has a permanent presence in most of Afghanistan and the country is in serious danger of falling into the group's hands, according to a report from an international think tank.

The Senlis Council claimed that the insurgents controlled "vast swathes of unchallenged territory" and were gaining "more and more political legitimacy in the minds of the Afghan people".

It said that the Nato force in the country needed to be doubled to 80,000 front-line soldiers who should be allowed to pursue militants into Pakistan.

The 110-page report said that its "exclusive" research found the Taliban controlled 54 per cent of Afghanistan.

It calculated that Nato countries should contribute 2.3 soldiers per £500 million of their GDP to provide 71,000 soldiers, with 9,000 additional troops coming from Muslim nations.

If the plan were adopted, Britain would need to send 4,500 troops, significantly fewer than are deployed now.

British and American military leaders say the mission in Afghanistan has been hamstrung by Nato members refusing to send reinforcements or placing "caveats" on their duties when there.

There is no sign, despite pressure from the US and Britain, of any move within Nato to send reinforcements to Afghanistan.

The report said: "It is a sad indictment of the current state of Afghanistan that the question now appears to be not if the Taliban will return to Kabul, but when this will happen and in what form.

The oft-stated aim of reaching the city in 2008 appears more viable than ever and it is incumbent upon the international community to implement a new strategic paradigm for Afghanistan before time runs out".

The Ministry of Defence dismissed the report, saying its conclusion that the Taliban would take Kabul was not credible. "The Taliban does not pose a credible threat to the democratic Afghan government," a spokesman said.

The report coincides with a study from Oxfam for the House of Commons international development committee, which gives warning that the security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating.

Oxfam said that Afghans faced "severe hardship comparable with sub-Saharan Africa" and that aid was not getting to the most needy.

The Senlis Council, a Brussels-based think tank that conducts research into drugs, military intervention and development policies in Afghanistan, earlier this month advocated the growth of opium poppies in the country for use as morphine abroad.

It said the project would weaken the Taliban by offering an option for farmers and starving the organisation of funding.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Rare Disease Turns Man Into Tree

Warning, this video is not for the faint of heart.

Telegraph TV - Watch more free videos


Hillary Clinton's Corporate Donors

Hillary's Corporate Cronies
Ethan Allen

Despite pledging to stop corporate lobbyists and playing herself off as the defender of the common man, Hillary's contributors speak for themselves. Several internet sites can be found that disclose public donations, and Hillary's is a laundry list of corporate bankers and media barons. Sure, Hillary's got her fair share of rock stars and movie celebs supporting her, but she's also got major money coming in from different business sectors. There's nothing illegal about it, but it highlights just how fused our two-party system has become, and just which wheels are being greased behind the scenes. Hillary Clinton publicly espouses populist messages and promises to repeal corporate welfare and subsidies, yet is being bankrolled by the very corporations that she pledges to fight. As the old saying goes, 'Money talks'...

Just a few of her corporate sponsors.

Jack Abernethy, CEO of FOX TV
Chris Albrecht, HBO chairman
Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder
Lloyd Blankenfein, Goldman Sachs chairman
Warren Buffett, Berkshire-Hathaway, billionaire
Ron Burkle, Supermarket magnate
August Busch III, Anheuser-Busch chairman
John Catsimatidis, Supermarket mogul
Peter Chernin, News corps. COO
Donny Deutsch, Adverstising exec
Barry Diller, media mogul
Tom Freston, former Viacom president
Brad Grey, Paramount pictures chairman
Vernon Jordan, Washington power broker
Jeff Kindler, Pfizer CEO
Norman Lear, TV producer
John Mack, Morgan Stanley chairman
Rupert Murdoch, News corps. chairman
Ronald Perelman, billionaire investor
Sumner Redstone, Viacom chairman
Brian Roberts, Comcast chairman
Hilary Rosen, lobbyist, former RIAA CEO
Haim Saban, media mogul
Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon chairman
Terry Semel, former Yahoo CEO
Ben Silverman, NBC chairman
Sy Sternberg, NY Life insurance chairman
Howard Stringer, Sony CEO
Richard Thalheimer, Sharper image chairman
Sandy Weill, Citigroup chairman
Robert Wright, former NBC chairman

So we have Peter Chernin, Barry Diller, and Rupert Murdoch, all big wigs at the 'right wing' FOX news corps, all donating and publicly supporting Hillary Clinton. And of course it even came out in the mainstream news that back in May Rupert Murdoch held a fundraiser for Hillary's campaign.

Mrs. Clinton has brought in $304,000 in PAC money from the business sector, which makes up for a total of 56% of the total PAC money she has netted. She has also received over $500,000 from lobbyists, $935,000 from banks, $269,000 from pharmaceuticals, $4.7 million from securities, and $2.2 million from the TV and movie industry.

Millionaires and billionaires from all sectors: business and marketing, real estate, media and television, movie studios, pharmaceutical cos, energy, all donating to candidates... even the ones like Hillary Clinton who offer to stop corporate welfare and turn back the influence of lobbyists in Washington. The picture is clear. The power elite in Washington are simply a group of incestuous cronies and demagogues, and have only one interest in mind: self interest. The business and corporate sectors know that the economy is tanking, and are doing everything in their power to maintain success during the consolidation period. And there's one candidate they know who will not expose their operations, and who will continue the status quo of the great raping of our land, and that candidate is Hillary Clinton.

More complete list of Hillary's donations can be found here.



Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wolf Blitzer Owned

Perfect example of how someone can skew a situation to their own liking. I`m sick and tired of this.

this one's at least 10-15 years old, but it seems the conditions surrounding the Israeli/Palestinian conversation remain the same.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Crappy Wireless Products

I feel soo frustrated with my router these days and I really want to get a new one, but there won't be a stable and reliable router out until early 2008.

Wireless Routers: The Truth About Superfast Draft-N

New wireless routers promise big speed and coverage improvements. But our lab tests show that the new products have big drawbacks.

Story by Becky Waring; Testing by Elliott Kirschling

Friday, August 25, 2006

"Twelve times the speed!" "Four times the range!" "Faster than wired!" Like barkers at a carnival, home-network equipment vendors are touting the revolutionary performance of the latest and greatest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11n. And yes, its promise is great: 802.11n networks should enable superior range and data speeds of up to 270 megabits per second (and eventually 600 mbps). Although (as with previous Wi-Fi standards) real-world performance won't be nearly as fast, 802.11n products should deliver more than enough throughput and range to support high-quality video streaming and Voice-over-IP phone service, graphics-intensive online games, and other bandwidth-hogging goodies throughout a typical home. We can hardly wait to buy the gear. Problem is, that's not what the vendors are selling.

Instead of products based on a final standard--which should appear by early 2008 and will be Wi-Fi Alliance-certified for interoperability--what we have now is a flood of "draft" 802.11n products based on a preliminary and incomplete version of the standard. These products might be--but are not guaranteed to be--firmware upgradable to the final spec.

Erratic Performers

We wouldn't complain if the products worked as advertised. But in our tests, four draft-n router and PC Card lines--Belkin's N1, Buffalo's AirStation Nfiniti, Linksys's Wireless-N, and Netgear's RangeMax Next--were generally outperformed by two older product lines (Netgear's RangeMax 240 and Asus's 240 Wireless MIMO) based on nonstandard technology from Airgo Networks.

We also found that routers based on different draft-n chips (the Belkin uses Atheros chips, while the other three are based on Broadcom chips) do not interoperate at high speed. Buying products from the same vendor doesn't always ensure that all of them will use the same draft-n chips, either: At least one company, Netgear, is selling similarly named routers and PC Cards that are based on different draft-n chips, and you can determine which chip a product uses only by checking its model number and/or the chip logo on its packaging (see "Draft-N Product Look-Alikes").

Finally, we found that at long range especially (in our tests, about 60 feet, from a router in a suburban home office to a notebook located in the backyard), the draft-n products were generally erratic in coverage and performance--particularly the Atheros-based Belkin line. (Atheros attributes the irregular performance results to its implementation of technology that is designed to prevent interference with neighboring Wi-Fi networks.)

On the other hand, the two older product lines, both based on Airgo's True MIMO Gen3 chips, have a couple of significant drawbacks: They will never be upgradable to the final 802.11n standard, and will interoperate with 802.11n (draft or final) products only at poky 802.11g (54-mbps theoretical maximum) speeds.

Vendors are aggressively addressing draft-n performance problems, bugs, and compatibility issues with frequent firmware updates (even as we tested, we were receiving updates to shipping devices). In fact, we revisited one draft-n product--D-Link's shipping Atheros-based RangeBooster N 650 line--after the deadline for our print issue had passed, to see if updates improved performance. (We dropped the product from the main review in print because it could not complete our tests.) But we'd rather vendors didn't use paying customers to do their alpha and beta testing. You shouldn't have to install multiple firmware updates to see promised performance on a brand-new product.

Faced with a choice between work-in-progress draft-n products on one hand and products that perform better but use proprietary technology that can never be upgraded to 802.11n on the other, we chose not to name a PC World Best Buy.

We did, however, assign each product our usual PC World Rating based on our lab tests of performance and other key features (see our separate chart). We particularly looked for QoS (quality of service) and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play), two technologies essential to running the coming wireless video and entertainment applications that are among the main reasons to buy a high-speed router.

Features to Look For

QoS helps ensure smooth streaming media and VoIP calls by prioritizing multimedia packets on the network. All but the Netgear lines had this feature when we tested, and Netgear planned to add it via firmware updates. (Note that QoS support must be present in both your router and your adapters to work.)

UPnP enables automatic peer-to-peer connectivity of networked computers, hard drives, game consoles, streaming-media players, and even kitchen appliances, so that they can recognize one another and share data intelligently. We were pleased to see that all the tested routers had this capability.

Note, however, that in calculating the PCW Ratings we did not give draft-n products extra points for upgradability potential, since without vendor guarantees the value is uncertain at best.

Indeed, our bottom-line advice is to hold out for certified 802.11n products (turn to "What's Ahead for 802.11n" for more on the standard's progress), unless you just can't wait to get the added bandwidth for entertainment applications and large file transfers.

Wait If You Can

Remember that unless you upgrade all your adapters to match, you won't see the true benefits of any of these high-speed network technologies; this requirement adds nearly $100 per device to your investment in potentially nonstandard equipment. Just upgrading one adapter doesn't work well, since using older 802.11b/g devices at the same time can seriously affect router performance.

Also, older adapters are unlikely to support WPA2 encryption, which is needed to get the maximum out of draft-n. Finally, consider that for now new adapters are primarily for notebooks--only a few vendors also offer desktop cards, and most consumer electronics vendors are expected to hold off on products with fast Wi-Fi support until 802.11n is ratified.

If you must have added range now, consider the Netgear RangeMax 240, which earned the top rating in this group for its combination of performance, design, and features. If you're willing to take a performance hit in order to gamble on upgradability to the eventual standard, look at Netgear's draft-n-compliant RangeMax Next line, the only one in our tests that could approach the range of the Airgo-based products.

Though the Belkin N1 Wireless and Linksys Wireless-N routers had top-rated features, design, and usability, they faltered in performance. The Buffalo AirStation Nfiniti line performed similarly to the Belkin and Linksys products, but It suffered some serious flaws, such as a lack of strong WPA2 encryption--a must-have for this class of router.

Another option--if you are on a strict budget and are primarily concerned with improved range (as opposed to top speed)--is to invest in even older and cheaper Airgo-based gear, such as Belkin's Wireless G-Plus MIMO router. This unit's range is nearly as good, and its price is much lower.


More Money for Bigger Guns

Space Defense Program Gets Extra Funding

By Walter Pincus
Monday, November 12, 2007; A19

While wrestling with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon is preparing weapons to fight the next battle from space, according to information in the 621-page, House-Senate conference report on the fiscal 2008 defense appropriations bill.

The $459 billion bill, which awaits President Bush's signature, provides $100 million for a new "prompt global strike" program that could deliver a conventional, precision-guided warhead anywhere in the world within two hours. It takes funds away from development of a conventional warhead for the Navy's submarine-launched Trident Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and from an Air Force plan for the Common Aero Vehicle.

The new program, dubbed Falcon, for "Force Application and Launch from CONUS," centers on a small-launch-vehicle concept of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency describes Falcon as a "a reusable Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle (HCV) capable of delivering 12,000 pounds of payload at a distance of 9,000 nautical miles from [the continental United States] in less than two hours."

Hypersonic speed is far greater than the speed of sound. The reusable vehicle being contemplated would "provide the country with significant capability to conduct responsive missions with quick turn-around sortie rates while providing aircraft-like operability and mission-recall capability," according to DARPA.

The vehicle would be launched into space on a rocket, fly on its own to a target, deliver its payload and return to Earth. In the short term, a small launch rocket is being developed as part of Falcon. It eventually would be able to boost the hypersonic vehicle into space. But in the interim, it will be used to launch small satellites within 48 hours' notice at a cost of less than $5 million a shot.

Conferees added $100 million above the Bush administration's request for nearly $200 million to accelerate "space situational awareness." That is code for protecting U.S. satellites in space and being able to attack the enemy's satellites.

"Enhancing these capabilities is critical, particularly following the Chinese anti-satellite-weapons demonstration last January," the conferees wrote in their report. They were referring to a Jan. 11 incident in which a Chinese guided missile destroyed an aging weather satellite in orbit.

"Counterspace systems" that would warn of impending threats to U.S. satellites, destroy or defend against attackers, and interrupt enemy satellites are in the Bush budget for $53 million. Conferees gave them another $10 million.

One research project of $7 million in that category is directed at "offensive counterspace," described in the Pentagon's presentation to Congress as designing "the means to disrupt, deny, degrade or destroy an adversary's space systems, or the information they provide."

Another $18 million would go for research into a second-generation counter-satellite-communications system; it would explore and develop capabilities "to provide disruption of satellite communications signals in response to U.S. Strategic Command requirements," according to the Pentagon congressional presentation. The first-generation system is already operational, and an upgrade of those capabilities is in production.

The conferees want to increase funds for the Rapid Identification Detection and Reporting System, which already had $28 million in the Bush budget. This system is designed to provide "attack detection, threat identification and characterization, and support rapid mission impact assessments on U.S. space systems."

Its first-generation system is scheduled for initial operation at the end of next year, while the new funds will allow continuation of research on a second generation, which began this year.

Part of the funding will also go toward work on integrating this system, which detects enemy threats to U.S. satellites, with the offensive counterspace and counter-satellite-communications programs. Eventually, they would be linked with U.S. command-and-control systems "in support of space control and the counterspace mission areas," according to the Pentagon's presentation to Congress.

Integration of these developing counterspace missions with a current command-and-control system is expected by the middle of 2008, according to documents provided to Congress.

National security and intelligence reporter Walter Pincus pores over the speeches, reports, transcripts and other documents that flood Washington and every week uncovers the fine print that rarely makes headlines -- but should. If you have any items that fit the bill, please send them

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Trick or Treat

I found this story interesting, even though it' quite dated.

Are There Ghosts Haunting The White House?

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 31) -- Tales of White House ghosts have been around for almost as long as the White House itself.

The ghost of a British soldier from the War of 1812 is said to walk the grounds at night. Another ghoulish tale has a long-deceased White House usher still turning off lights in the building while a former White House doorman is reported to still be on the job.

The spirit of Abigail Adams, the wife of America's second president John Adams, has been spotted hanging laundry in the East Wing of the White House.

And for all the people who have stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom of late, there is one who would not. Britain's Winston Churchill refused to sleep there after sighting President Abraham Lincoln's ghost lurking about.


White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry says he is a believer. "There are, from time to time, reports that the White House is haunted ... from time to time, mysterious appearances of figures from history," McCurry said. "I believe."

McCurry couldn't say if either of the Clintons have had any midnight encounters of the supernatural kind. "There have been serious people who have serious tales to tell about these encounters. Now, I haven't heard the president or the first lady tell any of these tales, but there are people who seriously believe that there is a haunting quality to the White House," he said.

President Harry Truman may have, because he said the place was haunted "sure as shooting."

At the least, first lady Hillary Clinton called the place creepy at times. "There is something about the house at night that you just feel like you are summoning up the spirits of all the people who have lived there and worked there and walked through the halls there," Mrs. Clinton said last year on The Rosie O'Donnell Show.

"It's neat. It can be a little creepy. You know, they think there's a ghost there," she continued.

CNN's Eileen O'Connor contributed to this report.