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Yes, been a while, hasn't it... Among other things:

I didn't write about the outcome of the convention in Tempe. I think I found homes for ALL of these designs, except Virtualia, which nevertheless was the predecessor for Kandahar and EOKA, both of which attracted interest. But hoo boy, I never talked so much in all my life - and I owe a great debt to Todd Davis, He of the Blue Hair, who made sure that I got a chance to talk to people who mattered.

I observed and kibitzed some folks playing Summer Lightning, and at least one copy was given away as a door prize. I helped to playtest Andean Abyss, ( new game on counterinsurgency in the 1990s in Colombia that was quite clever, and showed Guerrilla Checkers ( to quite a few people. Got a couple of small games and picked up two items in the game auction, normally the high point of the convention.

It was up to 105 degrees in the daytime, and would cool to about 80 around 4 in the morning. My good intentions of getting exercise by walking up the butte behind the hotel in the relative cool of the morning soon evaporated, and we never did get into downtown Phoenix (it would have been easy as there is a new light rail station a couple of blocks away) to look around. But we did walk around in the general area, and I got some cheap CDs at the record exchange down the street we always visit - Lianne got some nice antique glassware at the little store down the street from there, that we also always visit.

We went out to the club (it was called Sanctum) twice that week, Wednesday and Saturday. Wednesday the music wasn't so great, and not many people there, but Saturday was a lot better. Lianne came along the second time and had a good time, I think.

I hadn't been to this convention in three years, and it appears my reputation has grown slightly in the meantime - getting published in Strategy & Tactics and World at War magazine certainly helped. Joe Miranda and I also made a presentation at a rather sparsely-attended panel discussion on simulating modern warfare.

We left on Sunday, and getting home, while it took a while, was less unpleasant than getting there. On the way down I got the full TSA style pat-down three times, including having my hands swabbed for explosives/gunpowder residues in the Victoria airport, before I'd even left the damn country! It's the metal rod in my leg that does it - the metal detector trips, and then I get the business... the TSA drone knows I haven't done anything wrong, I know I haven't done anything wrong, but we both have to go through this non-consensual Security Theatre piece - he'll lose his job if he doesn't do it, all it takes is one smart crack from me and then I get on a watch list forevermore, and both of us, it has been decided, must demonstrate to everyone watching that You Must Submit, It's For Your Own Good, Really....

Anyway, in Phoenix airport they had a full body scanner, so all you do is stand with you hands in a triangle above your forehead while they probe your innards. It was easier that time. Then we flew to San Francisco and sat there for a few hours, thankfully did not have to go through Security again, and then a flight straight home to Victoria. But we arrived late, and took a while to get through Customs, so did not get home until almost midnight, too late for me to go and do a set at Circuit Breaker - sigh.

Monday the 13 I had a cleaning appointment at the dentist - tired as I was it was still only all right to sit in the chair while he poked and scraped at my teeth, until *SPUNG* an inlay popped off. Well, if you are going to have your dental work wrecked, a good place to do it is in the dentist's office - so they cemented it back on until I could get it seen to that Wednesday. Oh how I love these dental follies - but it beats having to whittle a new set of choppers every month.

The following week was Aki's final exams, he did OK on the things that counted - A in Math, A in Social Studies (he got extra credit for volunteering in the federal election and that made the difference), B in Auto Mech, C+ in English - could have been better but the exam was sooner than he thought it was - bad planning on the school's part, and I was certainly less than impressed with his teacher. Anyway, it's good enough and after English 12, he'll never analyze another novel in his life. This week he is on the Trades Awareness Program, something Camosun College puts on in the summer - each day they go to a different shop in the Trades area of the campus to see what's involved in being an electrician, plumber etc. and they go to a construction site to see how it all comes together.

By the end of the week my boss was back from her vacation, so that was the end of my nearly-one-month-long Reign of Error acting in her position. I really don't care for being Boss. But I like the job a lot. Oh, and because of the dental stuff I missed the ceremony for getting my 15-year service pin too(actually I've been in the Public Service since 1993, but better late than never).

Canada Day I stayed well away from downtown! We finally got a big and good-quality barbecue, so I have been grilling dinners lately - so that's what I did, and later stood on a chair on the deck to see the fireworks going off over downtown, six miles away from drunken vomiting teenagers. The following night we went out to a gallery opening, and had dinner at San Remo, a place I have been meaning to go to for over ten years. It was pretty good. And Sunday the 3rd was the annual "Gothnic" in Beacon Hill Park: Lianne came along and I made up a big batch of sandwiches. I don't think my priest getup fooled anyone, but it does look rather like a demented church picnic.

And that night was Circuit Breaker again (a week earlier than usual because of Pride Week)! Here's my setlist:

Severed Heads - Come Visit the Big Bigot
Nash the Slash - Wolf
Epsilon Minus - Antigravity (to test the outpout from a laptop)
Yello - Bostich
Residents - Diskomo 2000
Einsturzende Neubauten - Abfackeln
Laibach - Now You Will Pay
Ad:Key - Seelenstrip
Front Line Assembly - Provision
Blutengel - Bloody Pleasures
Mythos - Robot Secret Agents
A;Grumh - New Fashion
Penal Colony - Third Life
Die Bunker - Gewalt
Die Krupps - Machineries of Joy
And One - Panzermensch
DAF - Der Mussolini
Apoptygma Berserk - Electronic Warfare
Einsturzende Neubauten - Yu-Gung

That about brings things up to date. This summer I am spacing out some vacation days to go to a four-day work week, and there's lots to do to fill in the time.

In the first week of August I am going to the Connections conference at the National Defense University in Washington DC to speak on a panel, and demonstrate some of my games. Again, I am not looking forward to getting there (Continental Airlines, which I understand is one notch above the way Aeroflot used to be, and a long period of cooling my heels in Houston TX of all places). I am taking just carry-on luggage so at least none of that can go wrong. And DC in August is a steambath, I hear, and there are no clubs for Joe and I to go to on the nights we are there (without travelling 90 miles to Richmond or Norfolk VA!).
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From the NY Times Magazine. Yes, America's possible RepubliTeaLibertarian future is probably more like Pakistan then Somalia, but never mind, there'll be enough misery for lots more people:

Read more... )

And this, from the Washington Post, in continuation of another article I posted several years ago... ( Shouldn't the Department of Homeland Security focus on what's going on IN the Homeland, as well as what's trying to get into it?

Read more... )

Yeah, it's always The Other... but what kind of Other? And why on earth would a government department worry about civil liberty issues, when practically all such are surrendered on a daily basis by millions of Americans, to no particular purpose?
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This signed editorial from today's T-C says what I was thinking, only better. It's not exactly news, to people who have been reading the news, and IMIO Canada has slightly retreated in recent years from being "this most civilized of nations", but it needs to be said once in a while, to remind us of where we came from.

Editorial: Torture, WikiLeaks and our lost sanity

By Dan Gardner, Times Colonist December 7, 2010 6:48 AM

Last week, in response to a question from the opposition, a minister of the Crown stood in the House of Commons and assured the honourable members that neither he nor the prime minister of Canada advocates the murder of Julian Assange.

How is it possible that in this most civilized of nations, in 2010, a member of Parliament felt the need to raise the matter?

And while we're asking rhetorical questions that would not need to be asked in a sane world, how is it possible that the Republican party has so completely embraced aggression and brutality that almost all its leading figures feel the near-drowning of suspects is a valid interrogation technique and imprisonment without charge or trial is a legitimate practice that should be expanded?

Why is it that most people in the United States and elsewhere are not disturbed in the slightest that, despite abundant evidence, American officials who apparently committed heinous crimes in the war on terror will not be investigated and held to account, while WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who apparently did nothing illegal, is hunted to the ends of the Earth?

And how in hell is it possible that when a former U.S. president admits he authorized torture -- which is to say, he admits he committed a major crime -- the international media and political classes express not a fraction of the anger they are now directing at the man who leaked the secrets of that president's administration?

I marvel at that paragraph. It would have been inconceivable even 10 years ago. Murder treated as a legitimate option in political discourse? Torture as acceptable government policy? No, impossible. A decade ago, it would have been satire too crude to be funny.

And yet, here we are. The question in the Commons was prompted by the televised comments of Tom Flanagan, political scientist and former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "I think Assange should be assassinated, actually," Flanagan said last Tuesday.

This was the hard-right laid bare. The day before, Sarah Palin said much the same. Explicitly or implicitly, so did many others.

Happily for the cause of decency, sanity and civilization, Flanagan apologized for his comments. Less happily, the others did not.

It started on Sept. 11, 2001. We were frightened. We were prepared to think the unthinkable, to accept what had been rejected, in the name of security. What was it Ben Franklin said about those who would trade liberty for security? We couldn't remember.

It was small stuff at first. There was talk of "stress-and-duress" interrogation techniques. It's only sleep deprivation and a little pain, we were told. It's not torture.

Incarceration without charge or trial. Kidnapping. "Enhanced interrogation." Detainee deaths. We learned more and more but cared less and less.

A 2009 Pew poll found half of Americans think torture is "often" or "sometimes" justified when interrogating terrorists. Another 22 per cent say it's "rarely" the right thing to do. Only one-quarter say it's always wrong.

Critics now call the Republicans the "party of torture" for good reason. Dick Cheney's bizarre and legally absurd claim that the near-drowning of prisoners -- "waterboarding" -- is acceptable because it isn't torture is now dogma among leading Republicans who either don't know or don't care that this and other policies they advocate would be deemed major crimes by any court in the civilized world.

Then along comes George W. Bush with a memoir and the boast that "damn right" he had authorized waterboarding. Waterboarding is torture. Torture is a major crime. Bush freely admitted it.

And the Convention Against Torture requires authorities everywhere to investigate and prosecute "wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed."

Which they refuse to do. And most people are just fine with that. Stuff the law.

Now, contrast this with Assange. One can argue -- as I would -- that Assange is an irresponsible zealot. One can also argue that there should be a law forbidding what he did. But there isn't. Legal analysts have looked hard but it seems that what Assange did wasn't a crime.

And a lot of people want the U.S. government to murder him.

I suppose, if I were considerably more cynical, and liked crude satire, it would be funny. But all it makes me feel is a vague sadness for something that has been lost.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist


And something from Julian Assange himself, writing to The Australian, a national paper Down Under. Nice swipe at Rupert Murdoch, too:

Don't shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths
Julian Assange
From: The Australian December 08, 2010

WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.

IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain's The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be "taken out" by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be "hunted down like Osama bin Laden", a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a "transnational threat" and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister's office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn't want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: "You'll risk lives! National security! You'll endanger troops!" Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can't be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn't find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.

► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran's nuclear program stopped by any means available.

► Britain's Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect "US interests".

► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government". The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.

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But you knew the "domestic" threat was the real one all along...

Domestic threats biggest Olympic security concern: expert

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 2, 2010 | 10:48 AM PT CBC News

A University of Calgary expert in modern terrorism says small disruptions by domestic groups are the most likely security threat to the upcoming 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, but organizational issues are also a critical concern.

Vancouver is set to capture the world's attention for 16 days when the Olympic Winter Games begin later this month. But with that global spotlight comes some of the world's biggest problems and a heightened risk of terrorist attacks, according to Michael Zekulin, a PhD candidate researching contemporary terrorism in the U of C's political science department.

"In today's world, the Olympic Games represent a very real target for terrorism. It provides groups with the potential for large casualties and immediate global attention," said Zekulin.

"While the likelihood of a sophisticated, large-scale attack carried out by an international group like al-Qaeda is unlikely, disruption to the Games by domestic groups remains a possibility," he said in a statement released on Tuesday morning.

Anti-Olympic protesters have already been a thorn in the side of Olympic torch relay organizers, and have promised to disrupt the Games when they open in Vancouver on Feb 12.

"Organizers trying to prevent … attacks are faced with a logistical nightmare including countless potential targets, thousands of people involved and limited resources," said Zekulin.

Organization headaches

Olympic organizers also face challenges trying to secure not only the event sites located in Vancouver and Whistler, but also 125 kilometres of the Sea-to-Sky Highway connecting the two areas.

The $1-billion security plan for the Games will also be challenged by organizational and co-ordination issues because of the large number of agencies coming together for the 16-day event.

The massive effort led by the RCMP involves the Canadian military, several local police forces, border security forces, as well as international support from countries like the U.S. and military partnerships like NORAD.

"There's a real potential that should serious issues present themselves, people and agencies may start acting on their own instead of in a co-ordinated fashion," said Zekulin.

While volunteers traditionally add to the security of the Games by providing ears and eyes on the ground, Vancouver organizers might face challenges if some of those 25,000 volunteer stop showing up for their shifts, as has been the case in previous Games, he said.

Cameras aimed at protesters, not terrorists

The nearly 1,000 surveillance cameras in place for the Winter Olympics won't do much to deter a terrorist attack and are really just useful for zeroing in on protesters and hooligans, says Andre Gerolymatos, a Simon Fraser University history professor with an interest in security issues.

"They will be useful in terms of catching potential troublemakers, vandals, people selling dope on the street, but in terms of terrorists, in a way they are playing into their hands — the terrorist will simply look into the camera and blow himself up," said Gerolymatos.

He said cameras are overrated because they can only record events, and it would be better to have more police and soldiers on the streets where they could react to trouble, Gerolymatos told CBC News.


A billion dollars - that will have to be paid back.
A thousand cameras - that will not be turned off or taken away when this is over.
That's the real Olympic legacy for us.
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Oh, this one's rich... empahsis added par moi:

Border closed in eastern Ontario over handgun dispute

By David Gonczol, Ottawa CitizenJune 1, 2009

OTTAWA — A border crossing in an eastern Ontario native reserve remained closed in both directions Monday morning due to a protest by local Mohawks who were angered by a new policy that would have armed Canadian border agents as of June 1.

Shortly before midnight, Canadian Border Services Agency guards left their posts on the Akwesasne reserve, which straddles the Ontario, Quebec, and New York borders, for “their own safety,” Mohawk leaders said early Monday morning.

Read more... )

I mean, setting aside the nonsense and unnecessary expense of arming our border guards in the first place

we have the situation of an unofficial, apparently-disavowed-by-the-community ("well, we did ask them not to be violent"), and well-armed (perhaps not as well armed as the police, but certainly better than the border guards) vigilante group warning off an agency of the Federal government from doing its job because their agents might be carrying guns too. Is this perhaps verging on "apprehended insurrection"? (possibly, if anyone knew what precisely the term meant...)

Anyway, it's common knowledge what the situation is really about: it's not about sovereignty, it's that the Warriors want to preserve the status quo in these reserves that are adjacent to or straddle the border, to preserve the flow of contraband. And having more than one gang of people with guns around at a time leads to shootouts, and if anyone gets shot, especially a border guard (and, I repeat from earlier posts, having this happen would be a first in the 200+ year history of the Customs Service), this will bring down large amounts of Federal heat.

Best for the Warriors just to threaten, bribe, or otherwise coerce these community college summer hire kids while they are unarmed, and therefore unable to do much about it.
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From today's T-C:

Terror expert says ferries need armed officers

Canwest News ServiceJanuary 28, 2009 8:01 AM

B.C. Ferries needs an armed peace officer on vessels travelling major routes to protect the ships from attack, says a terrorism expert.

John Thompson, an analyst with the Toronto-based Mackenzie Institute, said the $5.6 million announced by the federal government this month to beef up security at B.C. Ferries will do little to prevent an attack by terrorists. The money will likely be used to install fencing at ferry terminals, more TV monitors and more security training for employees, B.C. Ferries said.

"If they're just talking about new cameras, new lights and new passive defences I don't think much of it," said Thompson, who has researched security on B.C. Ferries vessels "from a bad guy's point of view." He said these measures will deter routine criminal behaviour such as vandalism, but more security is needed in areas like the bridge to deal with a terrorist attack.

Many ferries in the U.S., such as those in the harbour of New York City, have armed security officers onboard, said Thompson.

B.C. Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said the costs of having an armed officer onboard must be weighed against the risks. "We have over 500 sailings per day throughout the fleet and the majority of those go just fine."

The company has added patrols by bomb-sniffing dogs at its terminals after a number of bomb threats disrupted service. Thompson said such measures will improve security significantly.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

Honestly, what bushwa.

What is this "armed peace officer" going to do, sailing back and forth, back and forth, all day between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen, swilling free coffee and scarfing down White Spot burgers every 2-3 hours? I suppose they could use him to take down that kid who got caught shoplifting a roll of Mentos from the gift shop. 'Cause there's only one Bruce Willis, and he's busy.

These expensive yet ultimately token gestures at security do nothing whatsoever to prevent actual incidents. I think they don't even make people feel safer: if anything, they drive home how powerless "ordinary people" are (or are supposed to be), so that one Special Constable with a handgun will save them from the Big Bad Men - meanwhile, keep in line there, you.
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Okay, so why Kelowna?

I refer you to another entry on these silly contraptions:

Still, I think if someone wants to see my saggy belly and misshapen legs, they should pay me, not have it incidental to me paying them.

Passengers virtually stripped naked by 3-D airport scanner

Last Updated: Friday, June 20, 2008 | 11:54 AM ET CBC News

The airport in Kelowna, B.C., will be the first in Canada to test a new type of passenger scanner that creates a three-dimensional virtually nude image of people.
Read more... )

Oh yeah, and in other news, my involuntarily extended trip has landed me with a doozie of a cold. I guess exhaustion plus all that bad hotel/ airport/ airplane air. I took Wednesday off work as I had two degrees of fever and slept 14 hours. It's Friday and I probably shouldn't be at work as I'm coughing up bloody phlegm, but the cold has moved into my vocal cords so I can call people on the phone and they don't know who I am....
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I find nothing at all surprising here:


Student recruits unfit for service, say former border guards
Facebook postings show drinking and partying while officers in uniform
Last Updated: Monday, October 1, 2007 | 9:01 PM ET
CBC News

Canada Border Services Agency officers who work in B.C. are being accused of posting inappropriate and offensive material, some of it directly related to their jobs, on the internet.

Read more... )

Something to think about the next time you enter my country (or worse, return to it).

[EDIT: Related earlier post about arming these goombahs:]
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BC Ferries to screen passengers

This is bloody ridiculous. What are they going to screen passengers for? Will I have to leave my nail clippers at home when I want to visit my dad on Pender Island?

Even in the crazy days after 9/11, when the commuter ferries from Bainbridge and Vashon Island to Seattle had an actual armed escort of Coast Guard cutters, Washington State Ferries never did this.

Ordinarily I'd suspect it's just a plot to keep people in the terminal a bit longer, so they can watch the giant TV and buy the overpriced coffee and trinkets. But this is just one for Stupid Security.
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Iranian woman caught in legal limbo detained at Vancouver airport

Short summary:

Iranian woman and her two children flee Iran in 2004 after her husband was executed and she was jailed for attending an anti-government political rally. Using false documents, she intends to enter Canada via Germany and Russia, but gets snagged in Frankfurt, bumped to Russia, interpreter problems, she and the kids stay in a motel in Moscow under house arrest for 4 months. In May/June of 2006 the Russian authorities leave them at Moscow airport for the next 11 months, where they sleep on the floor and beg food from the airport workers. This week the federal government decides to let them in as government-sponsored immigrants, her plane lands and her supporters and relatives do not see her - she is detained for smoking on the plane!

[edit: she was only detained for an hour, but there are some things up with which Canadians will not put....]
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You'll have to go to Phoenix... as I plan to, in the first week of June (gaming convention), no matter how invasive they want to get....

Peekaboo — security scanner can see through clothes
Last Updated: Monday, February 26, 2007 | 8:50 AM ET
The Associated Press

The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is the first to begin testing a controversial new U.S. screening system that takes X-rays of passengers' bodies in an effort to find concealed explosives and other weapons.

The airport started testing the new technology on Friday. It can see through people's clothes and show the body's contours with blush-inducing clarity, and critics have said the high-resolution images created by the "backscatter" technology are too invasive.

But the U.S. Transportation Security Administration adjusted the equipment to make the image look something like a line drawing, while still detecting concealed weapons.

During testing, the machine will be used only as a backup screening measure. Passengers who fail the standard screening with a metal detector will be able to choose between the new device or a pat-down search.

Passengers selected for screening by the device are asked to stand in front of the closet-size X-ray unit with the palms of their hands facing out. Then they must turn around for a second screening from behind. The procedure takes about a minute.

"It seems faster. I'm not uncomfortable with it," said Kelsi Dunbar, 25, of Seattle, who chose the machine. "I trust TSA, and I trust that they are definitely trying to make things go quickly and smoothly in the airport.

But one expert said the machine's altered image is ineffective, while the clear picture is an invasion of privacy.

"The more obscure they make the image, the more obscure the contraband, weapons and explosives," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the Technology and Liberty Project at the ACLU in Washington, D.C. "The graphic image is a strip-search. You shouldn't have to be strip-searched to get on an airplane. Millions of Americans would regard them as pornographic."

The machine will be tested for up to 90 days at a single checkpoint at Sky Harbor International Airport's largest terminal, which hosts US Airways and Southwest Airlines, the two busiest airlines in Phoenix.

The technology could be left in place after the trial period, and the TSA hopes to roll out similar machines at the Los Angeles airport and New York's Kennedy Airport by the end of the year.

The security officer who works with the passenger going through the screening will never see the images the machine produces. The pictures will be viewed by another officer about 15 metres away who will not see the passenger, the TSA said.

The machine cannot store the images or transmit them and "once we're done screening the passenger, the image is gone forever," Melendez said.

He said the device at Sky Harbor costs about $100,000 US, but is on loan from the manufacturer, American Science and Engineering Inc. of Boston.


'It's 100 per cent voluntary, so if the passenger doesn't feel comfortable with it, the passenger doesn't have to go through it.'
—Nico Melendez, TSA

The arrogance of the above statement friggin' infuriates me, coming as it does from someone who couldn't make the grade for Rent-a-Cop.

Things like this make me feel like cutting out the letters F-U-C-K-Y-O-U from tinfoil and taping them to my chest.

But I won't, I know, I know, sigh...
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I'm sorry, I can't leave this silly thing alone... though the crazy-woman-astronaut-love-triangle arrest is of more (but only transient) interest.

I won't tootle the thin-edge-of-the-wedge tin horn here, but this is one way of shutting up people you don't understand, don't like, or most likely made you look bad as a public official.

From The Register, a snarky UK online IT paper:

Mooninite terrorists brought to justice
Bostonians can sleep safely in their beds

By Chris Nelson
Published Friday 2nd February 2007 05:38 GMT

"Neon beer sign enthusiasts beware: you're next. Two men have been arrested and arraigned for hanging the signs that started Wednesday's bomb scare in Boston.

Peter Berdovsky, 27, and Sean Stevens, 28, have been charged with creating a hoax leading to public disorder and disorderly conduct by Boston's District Attorney. The hoax charge is a felony, the disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor. While charges formally came Thursday, the threatening signs had been hanging over the heads of Bostonians like little swords of Damocles for two or three weeks before anyone mistook them for al-Qaeda handiwork.

Read more... )
There is a deeper implication with regard to how a post-9/11 America reckons with its own identity. Boston has decided, even knowing the circumstances of this advertising trick, that the people who did this should be punished despite their more obvious intentions to promote a television program. It rises to a level above censorship, because now state and local authorities have decided that a human being's health and welfare should potentially suffer because he has unintentionally expressed himself in a way that might possibly be construed as dangerous.

The trend that this shows in American thinking resembles McCarthyism, only stupider. The government has ceased with even the formality of asking questions, instead deciding to take the most punitive route possible before undertaking a half-hearted search for truth. What happened in Boston Wednesday is utterly amusing. Surely the road to Gitmo is paved with equally amusing anecdotes."


Emphasis added.

My name is
Shake-Zula, the mic rulah, the old schoolah,
you wanna trip, I'll break it to ya.
Frylock and I'm on top rock you like a cop,
Meatwad you're up next with your knock-knock.
Meatwad make the money see, Meatwad get the honeys G.
Drivin in my car, livin like a star,
ice on my fingers and my toes and I'm a Taurus.
Cause we are the Aqua Teens,
make the homeys say ho and the girlies wanna scream.

[EDIT: a mailing list for CTHEORY, an electronic journal run by Arthur and Marilouise Kroker sent me this article on why there was a panic in Boston and not in other cities. At least, I think that's what it is saying - the academese gets a little thick after a few paragraphs. Why can't these people talk country simple?]

[EDIT EDIT: Well look, heads rolled... surely no surprise there.

Cartoon Network chief resigns following ad stunt

Last Updated: Friday, February 9, 2007 | 3:41 PM ET
CBC Arts

The head of the Cartoon Network has resigned following a recent marketing stunt that caused a bomb scare across Boston last week.

Jim Samples, the Cartoon Network's executive vice president and general manager, said Friday he felt "compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch."

The announcement of his resignation was made in an internal memo sent to Cartoon Network staff. In the statement, Samples expressed regret over what had happened.

Public areas in Boston were evacuated and bomb squads responded last Wednesday after members of the public made 911 calls reporting dozens of suspicious blinking electronic signs in subway stations, on bridges and in other locations.

Highways, bridges and a section of the Charles River were shut down and bomb squads dispatched to study the devices before authorities declared they were harmless.

The signs — which featured a boxy cartoon character giving an obscene hand gesture — were part of a publicity campaign for cult-hit Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They were distributed in nine other big U.S. cities in recent weeks, without causing the same consternation.

Hours into the investigation, Cartoon Network's corporate parent acknowledged the signs were part of a marketing move.

"It's my hope that my decision allows us to put this chapter behind us and get back to our mission of delivering unrivalled original animated entertainment for consumers of all ages," Samples said in his statement on Friday.

This week, Turner Broadcasting Systems and ad firm Interference Inc. agreed to pay $2 million US to make amends for the deployment of the variety of emergency response teams.

And that's that about that.]
ltmurnau: (Default)
Oh, for Ah Pook's sweet sake:

$2 million US settlement in Boston TV ad bomb hoax

Last Updated: Monday, February 5, 2007 | 1:07 PM ET
CBC Arts

Turner Broadcasting Systems and ad firm Interference Inc. have agreed to pay $2 million US in the wake of an ad campaign that caused a widespread bomb scare across Boston last week.

The two companies agreed to pay several state and local agencies to resolve any potential civil or criminal claims against them, state Attorney General Martha Coakley said Monday.
Read more... )

I don't friggin' believe this.

"planting a hoax device" - a hoax of what? They looked like, acted like, and pretty much were Lite-Brite boards that blinked. Somehow it doesn't make sense to build a bomb that advertises its presence by blinking brightly. Boston's pants-wetting display over its inability to tell an advertising one-liner from an IED should be its own damn financial responsibility.

I was listening with half an ear last night to the TV news - one of the top stories was about two Canadians who were wounded by stray gunfire from a drive-by shooting in Acapulco, Mexico. What made my pricks ear up was the statement of the victim's families that the Canadian government should forbid people to travel to Mexico until, um, some time in the future because they might get hurt.

People, people, people....
ltmurnau: (Default)

You knew I couldn't let this one pass without comment.

Broadcaster apologizes for Boston bomb scare

Last Updated: Friday, February 2, 2007 | 12:54 PM ET
CBC Arts

Turner Broadcasting System apologized to Boston-area residents Friday after a marketing campaign for its subsidiary Cartoon Network caused a major security scare. Turner chairman and CEO Phil Kent issued the mea culpa in full-page ads in Boston newspapers for "the confusion and inconvenience" caused.

Highways, bridges and river traffic were shut down in several areas Wednesday while police checked out blinking electronic signs that some people thought were bombs. The signs were actually advertisements for the show Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

Read more... )

Hunter Thompson described the American state of mind in the post-9/11 era as "perpetual emotional meltdown". That something as silly and innocuous as this could bring a major city to a halt for an afternoon shows nothing has really changed... or at least it hasn't for Bostonians; I don't know which of the other nine cities were chosen for the ad campaign, but it appears people there can handle looking at something that isn't immediately obviously advertising and not think,

I've got to tell Aki about this when I call him tonight. I'm sure he'll get a kick out of it.

And meanwhile, as smarmy and insincere as Turner Broadcasting's apology is, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

[EDIT: Besides Boston, the cities were New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Atlanta; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; San Francisco; and Philadelphia, and the thingies had been in place for two to three weeks already. Sheesh.]
ltmurnau: (Grandpa Munster)
Security breach grounds Vancouver's international flights

Last Updated: Friday, January 5, 2007 | 3:27 PM PT
CBC News

Thousands of passengers at Vancouver's airport are facing lengthy delays after a security breach Friday forced officials to hold flights departing from the international terminal.

Read more... )

This is even worse than the time they shut down the airport in 2005 because of some goombah who wandered through the wrong door with his backpack:

I say again, no system is foolproof because:
a) fools are so ingenious; and
b) fools are trying to implement the system in the first place.

[PS: How much liquid is too much, anyway? Is it possible to bring down an aircraft with urine?]
ltmurnau: (CX)
Forgive the length of this, but it is important, in a pompous/ominous sort of way....

Read more... )

Editorializing aside, the above does point out that this was signed on the same day as the Military Commissions Act, which rather dominated the press coverage.

So habeas corpus and posse comitatus died on the same day. Youse guys ain't in Kansas anymore...unless it's behind razor wire.
ltmurnau: (Default)
Cost estimate for arming border guards doubles

Andrew Mayeda, CanWest News Service; Ottawa Citizen
Published: Friday, November 03, 2006

OTTAWA - The Canada Border Services Agency now estimates it will cost $1billion over the next decade to arm land and marine border guards, roughly doubling the previously announced yearly cost of the program.
Read more... )

Update to

A billion dollars for a gun registry that
can't work,

a billion dollars to give pistols to border guards that will
never be used/
used on each other, by accident or design/
only be waved in the faces of uppity tourists,

ltmurnau: (Default)
Well, the Geneva Convention and habeas corpus were foreign kickshaws anyway.

I suppose Bush & Co. would rather rely on those uniquely American judicial innovations, lynch law and kangaroo courts.

Editorial from yesterday's NY Times, in case you don't know what I'm on about:

Read more... )
ltmurnau: (Default)
I wasn't gonna say anything but:

The Canadian Border Security Agency says it will take ten years to train and equip every officer with a sidearm. The first two years will cost $101 million (

Conspicuous by its absence is any reportage of the number of Canadian border guards who have been shot by desperadoes raging to hop the line into the Great White North. That's because there haven't been any: among the 730 names in the Canadian Police and Peace Officers Memorial Honour Roll, going back to 1804, there are only four entries for customs officers: one in 1980 (no one seems to know how he died, but a boardroom in the Customs Excise Union building is named after him) and three in 1994 (two drowned in a flood, and one was killed when a drunk driver hit her car).

I am not convinced this is a good idea, when I cross the border and look at the college students doing their summer term with CBSA, asking me about where I've been and do I have any cigarettes.

It kind of reminds me of the late 1980s when I was working in Ottawa, around Parliament Hill and the Governor-General's residence. The RCMP was tasked with a lot of public security duties and as usual was very short-staffed. So, they hired 3-400 "Special Constables" who mostly did airport security, VIP security, and institutional security at Parliament Hill and the residences of the Prime Minister and G-G.

They all had sidearms and many of them were armed with the Heckler and Koch MP-5 9mm submachine gun, a short-barreled compact weapon then used by many SWAT and counter-terrorist units. These were taken away from them within two years, because of the many instances of SCs shooting themselves in the foot or leg with them!
ltmurnau: (Default)
Ok, so, I haven't posted about my little trip that I took two weekends ago. Here goes before it's three.

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ltmurnau: (Default)

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