20 February 2007

The Earth is 6000 years old! Good God!!!

Ok, Take a look at this graph.... If you don't understand it then click the link above and find out why the earth is only about 6000 years old.

Then read this link:

19 February 2007

Rewarding wrong people

Rewarding wrong people
Gunnery Sgt. Demetrius Crofts
Camp Lejeune, N.C.

"I read the article concerning contacting and re-enlisting former Marines [“Cash to re-enlist: Corps wants prior-service Marines, even if they left active duty four years ago,” Jan. 15]. Upon their re-enlistment, those former active-duty Marines receive bonuses of up to $60,000. At first I was shocked, then a little angry.

I am an infantry Marine with almost 20 years of service. When bonuses were few and far between, the 03 field didn’t receive any, unless we lat-moved into another military occupational specialty. Now that some of us have passed our 16-year marks, we are not eligible anymore.

I don’t know if luring someone back just to receive money is the best course. I have served with Marines who came back in to “get a paycheck to pay off college loans,” and a difference could be seen in their level of performance.

Maybe another option would be to offer more bonuses when Marines are due to re-enlist or to reward years of service so that younger Marines could see what they will get if they stay in the Corps.

Many of us on active duty have received tempting job offers but declined them and decided to stay Marine, no matter the sacrifices we had to make. I do not harbor any ill feelings for those who have joined and decided to move on, but to offer them so much money to get them back is upsetting to some who have stayed the course and continue to serve."

....If these issues are affecting the active duty Marines quality then perhaps we should look at how this is affecting the other branches of the service. I saw the interview with Sen Biden this past weekend where he indicated that Congressman Murtha's first and foremost thoughts have always been with the preservation of our military force projection and how his idea WAS NOT politically motivated but was really motivated by what was best for our armed services and therefore our country. It's the small "letters to the editor" of the Marine Corp Times that, I think, prove this point.

THE Great big book of Everything

The Citizendium (sit-ih-ZEN-dee-um), a "citizens' compendium of everything," is an experimental new wiki project. The project, started by a founder of Wikipedia, aims to improve on the Wikipedia model by adding "gentle expert oversight" and requiring contributors to use their real names. It has taken on a life of its own and will, perhaps, become the flagship of a new set of responsibly-managed free knowledge projects. We will avoid calling it an "encyclopedia" until the project's editors feel comfortable putting their reputations behind this description

Peru's glacier vanishing, scientists warn

Peru's glacier vanishing, scientists warn
Last Updated: Friday, February 16, 2007 | 12:52 PM ET
CBC News
The world's largest tropical glacier is in danger of disappearing within five years, according to international researchers meeting this week in San Francisco.

Ohio State glaciologist Lonnie Thompson and a team of scientists said they have found evidence the Qori Kalis glacier of the Quelccaya ice cap in the Peruvian Andes could lose half its mass in 12 months and could be gone five years from now.
Thompson gave his presentation Thursday at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He told reporters afterward there was little mankind could do to stop the decline of the glacier and others like it. "The lower elevation tropical glaciers are going right now, no matter what we do we're going to lose the glaciers on [Mount] Kilimanjaro and we're going to lose the lower elevation glaciers in the Andes," said Thompson.

The Quelccaya ice cap covers 44 square kilometres in the Cordillera Oriental region and is the world's largest tropical ice mass. Its biggest glacier, the Qori Kalis, has receded by at least 1.1 kilometres since 1963, when the first formal measurements were taken. The rate of retreat has increased from six metres per year between 1963 and 1978 to 60 metres per year now, said Thompson.

The region also includes Peru's Cordillera Blanca, or White Mountain Range, one of the Andean country's most famous natural landmarks. Climate change research has focused on melting glaciers in the north and south poles, but tropical glaciers also play a valuable role in local ecosystems as they feed rivers that supply fresh water to areas like Peru's arid coast.

Thompson worries the problem of global warming won't be addressed until things get worse. "The question is, how far down this road do we go before there's any meaningful action to reduce emissions, what does the evidence have to be?" he said. "And unfortunately as human beings — it doesn't matter really what it is — we only deal well with crises."

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report two weeks ago saying evidence of global warming was "unequivocal" and that man-made greenhouse gases were "very likely" behind the rising temperatures and sea levels.

The second of four reports from the panel identifying at-risk regions will be released April 6.

Scientists discover lakes beneath Antarctic ice sheets

Posted on : Fri, 16 Feb 2007 10:06:01 GMT | Author : Steve Walters
WASHINGTON: Scientists have confirmed the existence of extensive network of waterways beneath a fast-moving sheet of Antarctic ice, providing clues on how "leaks" in the system affect the sea level and the ice sheets.

They say these waterways, or rather lakes, some stretching across hundreds of square miles, fill and drain so quickly that the movement can be seen by a satellite observing the surface of the continent. They observed the phenomenon using data collected by NASA's satellites now in orbit.

The scientists allay fears that global warming has created these pockets of water. They say these lakes lie some 2,300 feet below compressed snow and ice, too deep for environmental temperature to reach. However, it is necessary to understand what causes the phenomenon as it can facilitate an understanding of the impact of climate change on the ice sheet in Antarctica, says Helen Fricker of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography La Jolla, California and who headed the scientists' team in the study.

The team presented the results of the study at the annual meeting of the American Association for Advancement of Science and these are being published in the journal Science.
Co-author of the study and chief scientist at the Laboratory for Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Robert Bindschadler said the discovery of such large lakes exchanging water under the thick sheets of ice has radically altered scientists' view of what is happening at the base of the ice sheet and how ice moves in that environment.

The scientists explained that the surface of the ice sheet appears stable to the naked eye, but because the base of an ice stream is warmer, water melts from the basal ice to flow, filling the system's "pipes" and lubricating the movement of the overlying ice. This web of waterways acts as a vehicle for water to move and change its influence on the ice movement. Moving back and forth through the system's "pipes" from one lake to another, the water stimulates the speed of the ice stream's flow a few feet per day, contributing to conditions that cause the ice sheet to either grow or decay. Movement in this system can influence sea level and melting of ice worldwide.

Fricker said it is necessary that the phenomenon is studied and understood as sea level rises and falls in direct response to changes in the ice.

Scientists have so far discovered more than 145 subglacial lakes, a smaller number of these acting as the plumbing system in the Antarctic. The study using satellite data showed that water is discharged from these under ice lakes into the ocean in coastal areas and it has afforded a new insight into how much and how frequently these waterways leak water and how many connect to the ocean.

Fricker and her colleagues used data from NASA's ICESat, which sends laser pulses down from space to the Antarctic surface and back. The satellite detected dips in the surface that moved around as the hidden lakes drained and filled beneath the surface glaciers, which are moving rivers of ice.

Fricker said it was thought earlier that the changes took place over years and decades, but large changes are now being seen over months.

The scientists worked on the project from 2003 to 2006 and observed the Whillans and Mercer Ice Streams, two of the fast-moving glaciers that carry ice from the Antarctic interior to the floating ice sheet that covers parts of the Ross Sea.

15 February 2007

Atom smasher may give birth to 'Black Saturns'

Atom smasher may give birth to 'Black Saturns'
20:18 13 February 2007
NewScientist.com news service
Stephen Battersby
If we ever make black holes on Earth, they might be much stranger objects than the star-swallowing monsters known to exist in space. According to a new theory, any black hole that pops out of the Large Hadron Collider under construction in Switzerland might be surrounded by a black ring – forming a microscopic "black Saturn".

A black hole and a black ring can co-exist, in theory, as long as they are set spinning, say Henriette Elvang of MIT in Cambridge, US, and Pau Figueras of the University of Barcelona in Spain. "If you just had a ring, it would collapse. It's essential that it rotates to keep balanced," Elvang told New Scientist.

Just like the central black hole, the ring would be defined by its event horizon, a boundary beyond which nothing can escape the object's gravity. The ring could be thin like a rubber band or fat like a doughnut, and the rotation would flatten it – "like a doughnut that you have squashed," says Elvang. The spinning ring would also drag space-time around with it, making the central black hole spin as well.

The black Saturn can only exist in a space with four dimensions, rather than the three we inhabit. In 3D, a black ring is impossible, so there are no big black Saturns out there for astronomers to spot – but at a microscopic level, they might really exist."

READ the rest at the link above...

13 February 2007

GoDaddy Steps in It

By Larry Seltzer
February 12, 2007

Opinion: When a vendor says they can cancel your service because they don't like you, it's time to look elsewhere. Consider the capriciousness and hypocrisy of what GoDaddy did to Fyodor Vaskovich

Not many of us actually read all the legal agreements we enter into and this problem has gotten far worse in the era of the Internet. We all agree to licenses and contracts that we don't take seriously.

Fyodor Vaskovich found out the hard way that some terms of service are so arbitrary and capricious that they mean whatever the vendor wants them to mean. Vaskovich operates seclists.org, a mailing list archive site for most of the really important security mailing lists. This means that if someone posts content to those lists, he stores it on that site.

As Vaskovich explains in this e-mail, the day before Christmas he got a voice mail from GoDaddy saying that they were suspending his domain seclists.org. One minute later he received an e-mail from them that the domain "has been suspended for violation of the GoDaddy.com Abuse Policy."

Normally, GoDaddy doesn't respond to inquiries about why they have suspended a domain for a business day or two, but he was able to prod them into revealing that they had shut down the domain because MySpace had asked them to. A list of 34,000 MySpace user names and passwords was posted to the very popular Full-Disclosure list and therefore archived by seclists.org. Instead of contacting Vaskovich, MySpace approached GoDaddy and had them shut off his domain.

Before I get to GoDaddy's behavior, I must wonder what MySpace's goal is here. The list of usernames and passwords went out on a mailing list and thousands of outsiders have it already, irrespective of whether the archived version is available. The cat's out of the bag and MySpace, at a minimum, must void the passwords and force those users to reset theirs. What is accomplished by taking the list down? They only reinforce the reasonable conclusion that they don't know what they are doing. And why not go through the site admin? As Vaskovich said himself: "I would cancel my [MySpace] account if I was pathetic enough to have one."

So what's GoDaddy's excuse? I can imagine that posting usernames and passwords is reasonable grounds for taking action, but what exactly does their policy say? GoDaddy's Legal Agreements page has a lengthy list of policies, including their "Universal Terms of Service". Let's review some excerpts:

Go Daddy reserves the right to terminate Services if Your usage of the Services results in, or is the subject of, legal action or threatened legal action, against Go Daddy or any of its affiliates or partners, without consideration for whether such legal action or threatened legal action is eventually determined to be with or without merit.
OK, that's pretty clear. All someone (MySpace for example) has to do is threaten GoDaddy and GoDaddy has the right to cancel your service. But the next paragraph is the one that really caught my eye:
Except as set forth below, Go Daddy may also cancel Your use of the Services, after thirty (30) days, if You are using the Services, as determined by Go Daddy in its sole discretion, in association with spam or morally objectionable activities. Morally objectionable activities will include, but not be limited to: activities designed to defame, embarrass, harm, abuse, threaten, slander or harass third parties; activities prohibited by the laws of the United States and/or foreign territories in which You conduct business; activities designed to encourage unlawful behavior by others, such as hate crimes, terrorism and child pornography; activities that are tortuous, vulgar, obscene, invasive of the privacy of a third party, racially, ethnically, or otherwise objectionable; ... [emphasis mine]
Vulgar? Obscene? Embarrassing? Talk about ThePotCallingTheKettleBlack.com! (Predictably, that name is parked and owned by a domain broker.) GoDaddy practically invented vulgarity. Their Super Bowl ads, worthy of a class of 14-year-old boys for their creativity, embarrass the NFL, not to mention most decent people who watch them. I enjoy a good dirty joke as much as anyone, but GoDaddy's softcore attempts at humor just fail.

GoDaddy also claimed to Wired that they gave Vaskovich "close to an hour" to respond to them, but Vaskovich posted the voice mail and e-mail showing that this claim was false. It's a "he said-GoDaddy said" thing, but I believe Vaskovich. Even if they had provided an hour, so what? They didn't provide a phone number, just a generic e-mail address (abuse@godaddy.com) and they don't claim to respond to it promptly.

GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons has a popular blog in which he doesn't hesitate to criticize others. He's been conspicuously silent about the outrage over his company's actions. I can't imagine that many people have respect for GoDaddy they are likely to lose as a result of this and security experts are a small market, so maybe Parsons doesn't care. But we're still looking for a credible response.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.

MyTwo cents: It's pretty bad when the Super Bowl commercials are so risque that I have to worry about the questions my 7 year old son is asking about the girl dancing.

12 February 2007

Hiking Maps for the God of War


"Red Planet 'hiking maps' produced
Scientists using data from a European space probe orbiting Mars have produced new topographic maps of the Red Planet.
The "hiker's maps" provide detailed height contours and names of geological features on the Martian surface.

The European Space Agency (Esa), which compiled the maps, said it hoped the maps would become a standard reference for future research on the Red Planet. The data, from the Mars Express spacecraft, has also been turned into 3-D models of the surface of Mars. The topographic maps use contour lines to show the heights of the landscape.

The contour lines are superimposed upon high-resolution images of Mars, taken by the High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) aboard Mars Express. The maps are much like those of Earth used by hikers and planning authorities. The samples released by Esa show the Iani Chaos region of Mars because of its major topographical interest. It is covered in individual blocks and hills that form a chaotic pattern across the landscape. Mars Express entered orbit around the Red Planet in December 2003. "

(You have to click on the link in the title to see the video)
Iani Chaos and the upper reaches of Ares Vallis

This movie was produced using images from the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft. Its first part shows a simulated flight over the upper reaches of Ares Vallis, a large outflow channel on Mars, and parts of its source region, Iani Chaos.
Ares Vallis is one of the biggest drainage systems on Mars. From its source region in Iani Chaos near the equator, the valley winds north-west for about 1400 kilometres through the ancient Xanthe Terra highlands Eventually, it ends up in the northern lowland plains of Chryse Planitia.

The flanks of the deep canyon, rise up to 2000 metres from the valley floor. The morphology of the valley shows drainage patterns of many kinds: flow features along with isolated streamlined islands and terraces.

Very likely, large amounts of water have flown here episodically during Mars’s past. Ares Vallis is thought to have formed thousands of millions of years ago.

Iani Chaos itself is a depression of approximately 200 km by 180 km in size. At its northern side the depression wall is eroded away to form the beginning of Ares Vallis.

Inside Iani Chaos, a chaotic distribution of individual blocks of rock and hills form a disrupted pattern. These ‘knobs’ are several hundred metres high. Scientists suggest that they are remnants of a pre-existing landscape that collapsed after possible cavities had formed beneath the surface.

Ice stored in these cavities may have been molten by volcanic heat, and the water then discharged to the north – while the highland surface collapsed as a consequence.

The simulated flight from north to south is based on a digital-terrain model derived from the stereo channels of Mars Express HRSC. Three HRSC image strips, acquired from an altitude of approximately 280 km altitude, have been matched into a mosaic to obtain a wide regional perspective. The original resolution is 12.5 metres per pixel.

Mountain ranges in central Valles Marineris

The second part of this movie shows a simulated flight over high altitude features in the central part of Valles Marineris.

The 'Valley of the Mariner' are named for the US Mariner 9 orbiter which first imaged this huge canyon system in 1971. From west to east, Valles Marineris stretches over 4000 kilometres along the Martian equator It is the biggest known canyon in the Solar System: the valley floor reaches a depth of 11 km. On average, other Martian valleys are only 7 km deep.

Image data used for this movie of the central part of Valles Marineris are from two Mars Express orbits, on 24 April and 2 May 2004 respectively, acquired from an altitude of about 500 km, resulting in image resolutions of approximately 25 metres per pixel.

Here the Valles Marineris complex has its largest north-south extension. Several sub-valleys are divided by high mountain ranges, running in parallel to the entire canyon system. The two valleys seen here are named Ophir Chasma and Candor Chasma, and are each about 200 km wide. The area shown in the movie is about the size of the southern half of Germany.

Copyright: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

What the Hell is PEAK OIL?

The Hubbert peak theory posits that for any given geographical area, from an individual oil field to the planet as a whole, the rate of petroleum production tends to follow a bell-shaped curve. It also shows how to calculate the point of maximum production in advance based on discovery rates, production rates and cumulative production. Early in the curve (pre-peak), the production rate increases due to the discovery rate and the addition of infrastructure. Late in the curve (post-peak), production declines due to resource depletion.
The Hubbert peak theory is based on the fundamental observation that the amount of oil under the ground is finite. The theory is named after American geophysicist Marion King Hubbert, who created a method of modeling known oil reserves and production rates. Hubbert's theory was initially greeted with skepticism by many in the oil industry, but oil companies now routinely use Hubbert's methods to predict future yields of existing oil fields.

Hubbert's peak can refer to the peaking of production of a particular area, which has now been observed for many fields and regions. "Peak Oil" as a proper noun, or Hubbert's peak applied more generally, refers to a singular event in history: the peak of the entire planet's oil production. After Peak Oil, according to the Hubbert Peak Theory, the rate of oil production on Earth will enter a terminal decline. Based on his theory, in a paper[1] he presented to the American Petroleum Institute in 1956, Hubbert correctly predicted that production of oil from conventional sources would peak in the continental United States around 1965-1970 (actual peak was 1970). Hubbert further predicted a worldwide peak at "about half a century" from publication. Many observers such as Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Matthew Simmons, and James Howard Kunstler believe that because of the high dependence of most modern industrial nations on inexpensive oil, the impending post-peak production decline and resulting severe price increases will herald grim implications for the future global economic outlook. Note, because of world population growth, oil production per capita peaked in 1979.[14]

Sweet crude oil is a type of petroleum. Petroleum is considered "sweet" if it contains less than 0.5% sulfur[1], compared to a higher level of sulfur in sour crude oil. Sweet crude oil contains small amounts of hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide. High quality, low sulfur crude oil is commonly used for processing into gasoline and is in high demand, particularly in the United States and China.

For much much more information you have to go to this page:
Posted: August 18, 2004
Long Term World Oil Supply Scenarios
The Future Is Neither as Bleak or Rosy as Some Assert
John H. Wood, Gary R. Long, David F. Morehouse

Conventionally reservoired crude oil resources comprise all crude oil that is technically producible from reservoirs through a well bore using any primary, secondary, improved, enhanced, or tertiary method. Not included are liquids from mined deposits (tar sands; oil shales) or created liquids (gas-to-liquids; coal oil). Earth's endowment of conventionally reservoired crude oil is a large but finite volume. Production from it may well peak within this century. All or very nearly all of Earth's prolific petroleum basins are believed identified and most are partially to near-fully explored. All or nearly all of the largest oil fields in them have already been discovered and are being produced. Production is indeed clearly past its peak in some of the most prolific basins.

Reflecting increasing consumer demand for petroleum products, world crude oil demand has been growing at an annualized compound rate slightly in excess of 2 percent in recent years. Demand growth is highest in the developing world, particularly in China and India (each with a population in excess of 1 billion) and to a lesser extent in Africa (0.8 billion) and South America (0.35 billion). Where high demand growth exists it is primarily due to rapidly rising consumer demand for transportation via cars and trucks powered with internal combustion engines. For economic and/or political reasons, this high demand growth component did not exist in most of the developing world even a decade ago.

A multitude of analysts consisting of retired petroleum industry professionals hailing from either the geologic or business side of the house, a smattering of physicists, assorted consultants, and less than a handful of economists have predicted at various times over the past two decades, and with increasing frequency, that world crude oil production would peak at times ranging from 8 to 20+ years after their forecast. Dire effects on world oil prices, the welfare of mankind in general, and the United States’ economy and lifestyle in particular are typically alleged to implicitly follow the predicted peaks. The times for many of these predicted peaks have already come and gone, or will soon do so.

In April 2000 the United States Geological Survey (USGS) released results of the most thorough and methodologically modern assessment of world crude oil and natural gas resources ever attempted. This 5-year study was undertaken "to provide impartial, scientifically based, societally relevant petroleum resource information essential to the economic and strategic security of the United States." It was conducted by 40 geoscientists (many with industry backgrounds) and was reviewed stage-by-stage by geoscientists employed by many petroleum industry firms including several of the multinational majors.

The above facts prompted the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to take the next logical step by providing the first Federal analysis of long term world oil supply since that published by Dr. M. King Hubbert of the USGS in 1974. The results of EIA's study as presented at the 2000 AAPG meeting and published in July 2000, remain online in slide show format at: http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/presentations/2000/long_term_supply/index.htm. Since then nothing has happened, nor has any new information become available, that would significantly alter the results. High feedback and sustained requests for "live" presentation indicate widespread cognizance of the analysis among energy policy makers in the Federal government, analysts who focus on energy matters, and senior managers of public and private entities that are major consumers of petroleum products.

The bottom line
Will the world ever physically run out of crude oil? No, but only because it will eventually become very expensive in absence of lower-cost alternatives. When will worldwide production of conventionally reservoired crude oil peak? That will in part depend on the rate of demand growth, which is subject to reduction via both technological advancements in petroleum product usage such as hybrid-powered automobiles and the substitution of new energy source technologies such as hydrogen-fed fuel cells where the hydrogen is obtained, for example, from natural gas, other hydrogen-rich organic compounds, or electrolysis of water. It will also depend in part on the rate at which technological advancement, operating in concert with world oil market economics, accelerates large-scale development of unconventional sources of crude such as tar sands and very heavy oils. Production from some of the Canadian tar sands and Venezuelan heavy oil deposits is already economic and growing.

In any event, the world production peak for conventionally reservoired crude is unlikely to be "right around the corner" as so many other estimators have been predicting. Our analysis shows that it will be closer to the middle of the 21st century than to its beginning. Given the long lead times required for significant mass-market penetration of new energy technologies, this result in no way justifies complacency about both supply-side and demand-side research and development.

The Peak Oil Crisis:Cantarell — An Omen?

The Peak Oil Crisis
Cantarell — An Omen?
By Tom Whipple

There are a lot of bad things out there waiting to bite as the world moves towards peak oil— Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela, China, globalization, and hurricanes to name a few. Last week a new bogeyman arose — super fast oil depletion.

Our story begins 65 million years ago when the Chicxulub meteor (or perhaps comet) crashed into the sea near the Yucatan Peninsula . This was one big bang, for it not only wiped out all our dinosaurs, but also took out 75% of the species living on earth.

As our 10 km wide meteor was tooling along at 60,000 miles per hour when it hit, there was not much left of the meteor but vapor after the impact, but for a few seconds, there was a monster hole in the earth 100 miles in diameter. I won't go into all the terrible things that happened to our earth in the months after the blast, but few living things survived.

Our new hole promptly filled up with rubble (breccia, to geologists) pushed in by the rushing waters of the returning sea and landslides along the sides of the crater. Somewhere, between 65 million years ago and 1976, parts of this underwater rubble filled hole, filled up with about 35 billion barrels of oil. Making it one of the world's greatest oil fields. It is now called Cantarell.

Within a few years of its discovery in 1976, it was producing over a million barrels a day from only 40 wells. Fifteen years later however, the natural gas pressure driving out the oil started to give out and production started dropping. In response, the Mexican Oil Company PEMEX built a large nitrogen separation plant near the field and started injecting 1.2 billion cubic feet of high-pressure nitrogen into Cantarell each day.

The program worked like a dream; a few years later Cantarell was producing 2.1 million barrels per day— making it number two in the world right up there behind the Saudi's great Ghawar field which is producing on the order of 4.4 million barrels a day. This 2 million barrels a day represents about 60% of Mexican oil production and is what allows the country to export 1.82 million barrels a day most of which went to the United States.

Like all good things, massive flows of cheap oil must one day come to an end, so only four years after getting production up to over 2 million barrels a day, PEMEX announced the end was in sight and Cantarell was going into depletion. Last year, they announced the decline had actually started and that 2005 production would be down to 2.0 million barrels a day— 5% lower than in 2004.

There the matter rested. However, as we know in Washington , you simply can't keep a really good secret very long. Last week, somebody leaked the top secret PEMEX Cantarell Depletion study, and guess what? The situation might just well be a whole lot worse than the Mexicans have been letting on.

An energy consultant in Mexico City published parts of the study and later the Wall Street Journal got to examine the document. It seems there is only 825 feet between the gas cap over the oil and the water that is pushing into Cantarell from the bottom. This distance is closing at between 250 and 360 feet per year.

The more pessimistic of the study's scenarios have Cantarell's production dropping from 2 million b/d to 875 thousand barrels a day by the end of next year and 520 thousand barrels a day by the end of 2008.

PEMEX, while refusing to release the study comments the pessimistic scenarios will only happen if they do nothing and they are taking aggressive steps to mitigate the situation.

Outside experts are not so sure. Cantarell is a meteor-crater based field and as such is unlike any other. Extremely high depletion rates are not completely unknown. Production at Oman 's 35 year-old Yibil field peaked in 1997 at 225-250 thousand barrels a day and then declined to 88-95 thousand barrels a day in three years. In the case of Yibil, part of the rapid decline was attributed to the introduction of horizontal and multi-lateral drilling into field that increased the percentage of water being brought to the surface with the oil to a greater extent then anticipated.

If the pessimistic scenarios outlined in the PEMEX study come to pass, it will be very serious. The loss of nearly 1.5 million barrels a day of production capacity within three years will be very difficult to overcome either from other Mexican fields or from new production in other countries. Unlike political stoppages from exporters such as Iran or Nigeria , depletion can't be put right. Mexican exports will be seriously reduced or perhaps even eliminated forever.

Cantarell could turn out to be another case where advanced technology —in this case nitrogen injection— does not ultimately increase the quantity of oil recovered from a field, but simply gets a smaller amount out faster.

In the meantime, oil production from Cantarell bears close watching. An unusually fast decline will be yet another indicator that peak oil is indeed very near at hand.

Far-out schemes to stop climate change

Following the latest report of the United Nations climate change panel, there has been a flurry of renewed interest in so-called geo-engineering projects to counter the warming effects of rising CO2 levels.

Some wild-sounding schemes have been proposed over the years. Here is a sampling:

1. Pumping sulphur into the atmosphere. Injecting millions of tonnes of sulphur into the upper atmosphere would reflect 1% of sunlight back into space to keep the Earth cool, an idea proposed by Nobel-Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen. On the downside, it would increase acid rain and might cause respiratory problems, too.

2. Trillions of little sunshades in space (pictured). More like lenses than shades, these would bend sunlight away from Earth, reducing the light hitting the planet by about 2%. Although the shades would be simple and lightweight, it would still cost trillions of dollars to build and launch so many of them, according to astronomer Roger Angel of the University of Arizona, who is championing the idea.

3. A giant orbiting dust cloud. Vast quantities of dust obtained by vaporising a comet – or collecting lunar dust – could be injected into an orbit similar to the Moon's. The dust cloud would eclipse the Sun for several hours each month, cutting the total amount of sunlight reaching Earth per month by more than 1%, according to a proposal by astronomer Curtis Struck of Iowa State University. On the downside, the particles making up the cloud would eventually spiral towards Earth in huge numbers, hitting and possibly destroying satellites.

4. Painting the ground white. We could cover roads, oceans, deserts or other surfaces with reflective material, thereby increasing the amount of sunlight reflected back into space. On the downside, changing the amount of solar energy absorbed by the ground or oceans could have unanticipated effects on the weather.

Some of these ideas are discussed in the February issue of Physics World.

All of these would be vast undertakings requiring huge amounts of money. But I think option 4, especially if confined only to roads and other artificial surfaces, would be the most practical, with the least potential for bad side effects.

Of course, there is also the option of making serious efforts to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. The world contains finite amounts of oil, so this is a habit we will have to kick eventually anyway. Aside from preventing the most extreme climate change, this would have some other benefits, such as reducing smog and removing a source of conflict in the world.

What do you think – does even entertaining these ideas take focus away from practical, if somewhat inconvenient, steps we will have to take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as driving our cars less? Or is the problem so dire that we should consider every possible measure to reduce the impact of global warming?

David Shiga, online astronomy reporter (Illustration: Roger Angel/UA Steward Observatory)

An American Idol for Crypto Geeks

By Bruce Schneier
02:00 AM Feb, 08, 2007

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology is having a competition for a new cryptographic hash function.
This matters. The phrase "one-way hash function" might sound arcane and geeky, but hash functions are the workhorses of modern cryptography. They provide web security in SSL. They help with key management in e-mail and voice encryption: PGP, Skype, all the others. They help make it harder to guess passwords. They're used in virtual private networks, help provide DNS security and ensure that your automatic software updates are legitimate. They provide all sorts of security functions in your operating system. Every time you do something with security on the internet, a hash function is involved somewhere.
Basically, a hash function is a fingerprint function. It takes a variable-length input -- anywhere from a single byte to a file terabytes in length -- and converts it to a fixed-length string: 20 bytes, for example.

One-way hash functions are supposed to have two properties. First, they're one-way. This means that it is easy to take an input and compute the hash value, but it's impossible to take a hash value and recreate the original input. By "impossible" I mean "can't be done in any reasonable amount of time."

Second, they're collision-free. This means that even though there are an infinite number of inputs for every hash value, you're never going to find two of them. Again, "never" is defined as above. The cryptographic reasoning behind these two properties is subtle, but any cryptographic text talks about them.

The hash function you're most likely to use routinely is SHA-1. Invented by the National Security Agency, it's been around since 1995. Recently, though, there have been some pretty impressive cryptanalytic attacks against the algorithm. The best attack is barely on the edge of feasibility, and not effective against all applications of SHA-1. But there's an old saying inside the NSA: "Attacks always get better; they never get worse." It's past time to abandon SHA-1.

There are near-term alternatives -- a related algorithm called SHA-256 is the most obvious -- but they're all based on the family of hash functions first developed in 1992. We've learned a lot more about the topic in the past 15 years, and can certainly do better.

Why the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, though? Because it has exactly the experience and reputation we want. We were in the same position with encryption functions in 1997. We needed to replace the Data Encryption Standard, but it wasn't obvious what should replace it. NIST decided to orchestrate a worldwide competition for a new encryption algorithm. There were 15 submissions from 10 countries -- I was part of the group that submitted Twofish -- and after four years of analysis and cryptanalysis, NIST chose the algorithm Rijndael to become the Advanced Encryption Standard (.pdf), or AES.

The AES competition was the most fun I've ever had in cryptography. Think of it as a giant cryptographic demolition derby: A bunch of us put our best work into the ring, and then we beat on each other until there was only one standing. It was really more academic and structured than that, but the process stimulated a lot of research in block-cipher design and cryptanalysis. I personally learned an enormous amount about those topics from the AES competition, and we as a community benefited immeasurably.

NIST did a great job managing the AES process, so it's the perfect choice to do the same thing with hash functions. And it's doing just that (.pdf). Last year and the year before, NIST sponsored two workshops to discuss the requirements for a new hash function, and last month it announced a competition to choose a replacement for SHA-1. Submissions will be due in fall 2008, and a single standard is scheduled to be chosen by the end of 2011.

Yes, this is a reasonable schedule. Designing a secure hash function seems harder than designing a secure encryption algorithm, although we don't know whether this is inherently true of the mathematics or simply a result of our imperfect knowledge. Producing a new secure hash standard is going to take a while. Luckily, we have an interim solution in SHA-256.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the Twofish team needs to reconstitute and get to work on an Advanced Hash Standard submission.

- - -

Bruce Schneier is the CTO of BT Counterpane and the author of Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World. You can contact him through his website.

11 February 2007

Uranium Enrichment Calculator

Uranium Enrichment Calculator
How long does it take to enrich enough Uranium to make a nuclear weapon if one already has an enrichment cascade and consistently adds centrifuges to that cascade? The following calculator allows a user to specify the number of centrifuges in the initial cascade, the yearly Separative Work Unit capacity of each centrifuge, and the number of centrifuges added to the cascade per day. From this information, the user is then provided with an estimate of the number of days and years it would take to produce 50kg of highly-enriched (90% U235) Uranium; the amount required for a gun-type weapon assembly.

In regards to recent events, the user may wish to choose 165 centrifuges as this is the number that Iran claims to have operating in its present enrichment program at the Natanz facility. It should also be noted that P-1 centrifuges can be run at 2-3 kgSWUs per year and that P-2 type centrifuges can run up to 5 kgSWUs per year.

Check out the calculator at the link in the title...

Walmart in bed with Microsoft? Walmart says NO to Firefox, Mac, Apple

Update: 1:45PM: Thanks to Anonymous:
Site Temporarily Unavailable
The Wal-Mart Video Downloads store is currently unavailable due to temporary site maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please try again later.

Walmart in bed with Microsoft? Walmart says NO to Firefox, Mac, Apple
Posted by Allen Stern | 02/10/2007
Last week, Walmart launched their online video download service. Immediately there were posts that the service did not work with the Firefox or Safari browsers. There was a collective, "WTF" when this happened as this is 2007, not 1997. Back then it was "accepted" for applications to work with only a specific browser or platform. Now it appears that reports are out that Walmart has turned off the ability to get into the application at all by Firefox, Safari or any other browser it does not like.

And I can confirm that I cannot access the site via Firefox. So I ask, is this because of bad coding or because Walmart is working with Microsoft? Jonathan asks the same question. I certainly hope it is bad coding. But for the largest company in the world to not test their applications is just piss poor. In addition, with the requirements for SOX, who signed off on this going live? I can only imagine that in my past corporate life, heads would have rolled. (It appears some of the issues might be due to the DRM they are using is IE only)

With the "early adopters" generally using non-ie browsers, this will certainly hurt their ability for this to succeed. I hope this is only temporary. I am sure Netflix and iTunes must be loving this. Today any "f-up" is immediately spread across the web in mere minutes. I would have liked to see a message from Walmart that says this:

We understand that there are some issues using our download service in browsers other than Internet Explorer. We are quickly working on resolving the issues and appreciate your patience. Enter your email address and we will notify you once the service is functional in the other browsers and we will include a free download coupon for the trouble. Thank you for your interest in Walmart.

Updated 5pm: appears they are blocking apple completely -- from walmart customer service:
And Walmart video download service does not support the Macintosh Operating Systems as the video that you download requires Digital Rights Management 10 (DRM 10) software, which is not compatible with the Macintosh operating system.

That Sinking Feeling:The Other Iraq

The Other Iraq

February 11, 2007: What's going on in Iraq isn't unique. There's another place where democracy struggles to establish itself amidst corruption, religious strife, ethnic hatred and rampant terrorism. That other place is Africa, and it's generally ignored. Iraq gets the world's attention because over 100,000 foreign (mostly American) troops are trying to help out, and the battlefield sits atop over a trillion dollars worth of oil reserves.
There are over a dozen wars going on in Africa, and the daily death count far exceeds that of Iraq. Occasionally, the African violence gets into the news. Somalia gets mentioned, but only because of a failed UN intervention in the early 1990s. There are occasional references to the Congo, where millions have perished in recent years. Sudan gets mentioned from time to time because millions have been driven from their homes, and several hundred thousand killed by a few years of tribal and ethnic violence. But what of the wars in Chad (civil war), the Central African Republic (civil war), Ivory Coast (civil war), Guinea (rebellion against corrupt government), Senegal (civil war), Ethiopia (civil war), Eritrea (border dispute), Kenya (tribal wars), Nigeria (rebellion against corrupt government), Burundi (civil war), Rwanda (ethnic revenge), Uganda (civil war), Burkina Faso (border dispute), and Niger (border dispute)? And then there's the Islamic terrorism of northern Africa. Algeria is still dealing with the diehard remnants of a ten year rebellion by Islamic radicals. Lesser forms of that violence are showing up in all the other North African nations, and spreading to those to the south. Nigeria has had several deadly flare ups of Islamic violence. One rebel group even fancied them selves "African Taliban," had were put down with much bloodshed.

Let us not forget that Africa, even at peace, is not a peaceful place. The murder rate in South Africa is higher than in Iraq. The difference is the dead bodies are all over South Africa, while in Iraq they are concentrated in the central part of the country, and closely watched by hundreds of foreign journalists. The Iraqi dead amount to about twelve times the murder rate in the United States, and about two thirds the death rate in the United States during a year (1944) in World War II. The fighting is largely Iraqis versus Iraqis, with some 95 percent of the dead being Iraqi. A big deal is made about the deaths in Iraq, but what do you hear of the greater carnage in Africa? Mostly silence.

Non-Africans don't care about Africa, just as they don't care about foreigners in general. The world believes that the United States should not be in Iraq for that reason. So what if Islamic terrorists killed a few thousand Americans? You promptly went and took down the Islamic-supporting Taliban, so good for you. But Iraq had not been prominent in supporting Islamic terrorists. Oh, sure, Iraq gave refuge and some support to Islamic radicals and had weapons of mass destruction. But so do most Middle Eastern nations. Throughout the Cold War, Russia ran training programs for terrorists, and the U.S. didn't invade the Soviet Union over the matter. Same with Iran, even though Iran- supported suicide bombers killed hundreds of Americans in Lebanon in 1983, and has large stocks of chemical weapons and a nuclear weapons program.

While most of the world supports democracy in general, they are not willing to die to help others achieve it. And the world's attitude towards African attempts at democracy are the unspoken reason why. Developing a functioning democracy takes time, and often gets ugly. In the 1990s, after half a century of socialism, communism and dictatorship, African countries concluded that the rule of law and democracy was the way to go. But the way was mined and covered with snipers and bandits. Making democracy works means overcoming a lot of people who are willing to kill you for your beliefs. Most of the world, and a lot of Americans, don't believe it's worth getting too involved in this process. It takes courage and self-sacrifice to aid others in building democracy. But courage and self-sacrifice are seen by most as spectator sports. The world sees Americans in Iraq as arrogant fools, for trying to practice what they preach. The U.S. is divided on this point. Do we fight for what is right, or be practical? No matter who rules Iraq, they will want to sell their oil. Terrorists will always be around, and will potentially have access to more powerful weapons. So what? Let the police take care of that. Building democracy and fighting the forces that oppose it is something you talk about, not something you send your soldiers to get mixed up in. That's what everyone does with Africa. Seems to work, for everyone but the Africans. For that reason, the world is hoping that the American effort in Iraq fails. Because if America succeeds in Iraq, ignoring Africa gets a lot harder.

08 February 2007

Architecture and airport security

I found this at Matt Blaze's Crypto Blog

"Newly armed with the official terminology, I did a bit of googling this morning and found the TSA's Airport Security Design guidelines. This 333 page (PDF format) manual specifies, in all the detail one could ever hope for, everything there is to know about designing the security infrastructure for an airport, right down to the layout of the divest tables for the X-ray ingress points at sterile concourse station SSCPs. It's all very meticulous and complete, even warning of the "potential for added delay while the passenger divests or composes" (page 99). For some geeky reason, I find all this mind-numbing detail about the physical architecture of security to make strangely compelling reading, and I can't help but look for loopholes and vulnerabilities as I skim through it.

Somehow, for all the attention to minutiae in the guidelines, everything ends up just slightly wrong by the time it gets put together at an airport. Even if we accept some form of passenger screening as a necessary evil these days, today's checkpoints seem like case studies in basic usability failure designed to inflict maximum frustration on everyone involved. The tables aren't quite at the right height to smoothly enter the X-ray machines, bins slide off the edges of tables, there's never enough space or seating for putting shoes back on as you leave the screening area, basic instructions have to be yelled across crowded hallways. According to the TSA's manual, there are four models of standard approved X-ray machines, from two different manufacturers. All four have sightly different heights, and all are different from the heights of the standard approved tables. Do the people setting this stuff up ever actually fly? And if they can't even get something as simple as the furniture right, how confident should we be in the less visible but more critical parts of the system that we don't see every time we fly?"

Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Disease, Disasters, and Bioterrorism, 2006

Trust for America's Health (TFAH) today released the fourth annual "Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Disease, Disasters, and Bioterrorism," which found that five years after the September 11th and anthrax tragedies, emergency health preparedness is still inadequate in America.

The "Ready or Not?" report contains state-by-state health preparedness scores based on 10 key indicators to assess health emergency preparedness capabilities. All 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia were evaluated. Half of states scored six or less on the scale of 10 indicators. Oklahoma scored the highest with 10 out of 10; California, Iowa, Maryland, and New Jersey scored the lowest with four out of 10. States with stronger surge capacity capabilities and immunization programs scored higher in this year’s report, since four of the measures focus on these areas.

Among the key findings:

Only 15 states are rated at the highest preparedness level to provide emergency vaccines, antidotes, and medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile.
Twenty-five states would run out of hospital beds within two weeks of a moderate pandemic flu outbreak.
Forty states face a shortage of nurses.
Rates for vaccinating seniors for the seasonal flu decreased in 13 states.
Eleven states and D.C. lack sufficient capabilities to test for biological threats.
Four states do not test year-round for the flu, which is necessary to monitor for a pandemic outbreak.
Six states cut their public health budgets from fiscal year (FY) 2005 to 2006; the median rate for state public health spending is $31 per person per year.
The report also offers a series of recommendations to help improve preparedness. Some key recommendations include:

The federal government should establish improved "optimally achievable" standards that every state should be accountable for reaching to better protect the public, and the results should be made publicly available. Appropriate levels of funding should be provided to the states to achieve these standards.
Establishment of temporary health benefits for the uninsured or underinsured during states of emergency. This benefit is necessary to ensure that sick people will stay home, and the uninsured and underinsured will seek treatment in times of emergency, helping to prevent the unnecessary spread of infectious diseases, including resulting from acts of bioterrorism or a pandemic flu outbreak.
A single senior official within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should be designated to be in charge of and accountable for all public health programs. The senior official would streamline government efforts and be the clear leader during times of crisis.
Emergency surge capacity capabilities should be improved by integrating all health resources and partnering with businesses and community groups in planning, and increasing stockpiles of needed equipment and medications.
The volunteer medical workforce should be expanded and an investment must be made in the recruitment of the next generation of the public health workforce.
Technology and equipment must be modernized and research and development must be strengthened.
The public should be better included in emergency planning, and risk communication must be modernized.

For the state-by-state scoring, states received one point for achieving an indicator or zero points if they did not achieve the indicator, therefore zero is the lowest possible overall score and 10 the highest. The data for the public health indicators are from publicly available sources or public officials in 2006.

Score Summary --
10 out of 10: Oklahoma
9 out of 10: Kansas
8 out of 10: Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming
7 out of 10: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Tennessee
6 out of 10: Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin
5 out of 10: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, D.C., Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina
4 out of 10: California, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey

The Pentagon's not-so-little secret

The Pentagon's not-so-little secret
As the president and Republicans continue to hype the surge -- and stifle debate about it -- Bush's own war planners are preparing for failure in Iraq.

By Sidney Blumenthal

Feb. 8, 2007 | Deep within the bowels of the Pentagon, policy planners are conducting secret meetings to discuss what to do in the worst-case scenario in Iraq about a year from today if and when President Bush's escalation of more than 20,000 troops fails, a participant in those discussions told me. None of those who are taking part in these exercises, shielded from the public view and the immediate scrutiny of the White House, believes that the so-called surge will succeed. On the contrary, everyone thinks it will not only fail to achieve its aims but also accelerate instability by providing a glaring example of U.S. incapacity and incompetence.

The profoundly pessimistic thinking that permeates the senior military and the intelligence community, however, is forbidden in the sanitized atmosphere of mind-cure boosterism that surrounds Bush. "He's tried this two times -- it's failed twice," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on Jan. 24 about the "surge" tactic. "I asked him at the White House, 'Mr. President, why do you think this time it's going to work?' And he said, 'Because I told them it had to.'" She repeated his words: "'I told them that they had to.' That was the end of it. That's the way it is."

...read the rest at Salon.com in the link above

07 February 2007

Skype Reads Your BIOS and Motherboard Serial Number

On that same spying theme: This just in from slashdot

"Myria at pagetable.com, among others, noticed that Skype reads the machine's BIOS code on startup. This probably would've gone unnoticed if the operation didn't fail on 64-bit windows. From the post: 'It's dumping your system BIOS, which usually includes your motherboard's serial number, and pipes it to the Skype application. I have no idea what they're using it for, or whether they send anything to their servers, but I bet whatever they're doing is no good given their track record... If they hadn't been ignorant of Win64's lack of NTVDM, nobody would've noticed this happening.'"

Israeli Spying?

I believe that there is a saying in intelligence that somewhere buried in all the "noise" is a grain of truth.

As many of you know I read a wide variety of "stuff" I just came accross this and you can read more, as always, at the link above:

1947. Information collected by the ADL in its spy operations on US citizens is used by the House Select Committee on Unamerican Activities. Subcommittee Chair Clare Hoffman dismisses the ADL’s reports on suspected communists as “hearsay."

1950 John Davitt, former chief of the Justice Department's internal security section notes that the Israeli intelligence service is the second most active in the United States after the Soviets.

1954 A hidden microphone planted by the Israelis is discovered in the Office of the US Ambassador in Tel Aviv.

1956 Telephone taps are found connected to two telephones in the residence of the US military attaché in Tel Aviv.

1954 "The Lavon Affair". Israeli agents recruit Egyptian citizens of Jewish descent to bomb Western targets in Egypt, and plant evidence to frame Arabs, in an apparent attempt to upset US-Egyptian relations. Israeli defense minister Pinchas Lavon is eventually removed from office, though many think real responsibility lay with David Ben-Gurion.

1965 Israel apparently illegally obtains enriched uranium from NUMEC Corporation. (Washington Post, 6/5/86, Charles R. Babcock, "US an Intelligence Target of the Israelis, Officials Say.")

1967 Israel attacks the USS Liberty, an intelligence gathering vessel flying a US flag, killing 34 crew members. See "Assault on the Liberty," by James M. Ennes, Jr. (Random House). In 2004, Captain Ward Boston, Senior Legal Counsel for the Navy’s Court of Inquiry into the attack swears under oath that President Lyndon Johnson ordered the investigation to conclude accident, even though the evidence indicates the attack was deliberate. Given the use by Israel of unmarked boats and planes, and the machine-gunning of USS Liberty’s lifeboats, the most likely explanation is that USS Liberty was to be sunk with all hands, with evidence left to frame Egypt for the sinking. This would have dragged the US into the war on Israel’s side.

1970 While working for Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Richard Perle is caught by the FBI giving classified information to Israel. Nothing is done.

1978, Stephen Bryen, then a Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer, is overheard in a DC hotel offering confidential documents to top Israeli military officials. Bryen obtains a lawyer, Nathan Lewin, and the case heads for the grand jury, but is mysteriously dropped. Bryen later goes to work for Richard Perle.

1979 Shin Beth [the Israeli internal security agency] tries to penetrate the US Consulate General in Jerusalem through a “Honey Trap”, using a clerical employee who was having an affair with a Jerusalem girl.

1985 The New York Times reports the FBI is aware of at least a dozen incidents in which American officials transferred classified information to the Israelis, quoting [former Assistant Director of the F.B.I.] Mr. [Raymond] Wannal. The Justice Department does not prosecute.

1985 Richard Smyth, the owner of MILCO, is indicted on charges of smuggling nuclear timing devices to Israel (Washington Post, 10/31/86).

1987 April 24 Wall Street Journal headline: "Role of Israel in Iran-Contra Scandal Won't be Explored in Detail by Panels"

1992 The Wall Street Journal reports that Israeli agents apparently tried to steal Recon Optical Inc's top-secret airborne spy-camera system.

1992 Stephen Bryen, caught offering confidential documents to Israel in 1978, is serving on board of the pro-Israeli Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs while continuing as a paid consultant -- with security clearance -- on exports of sensitive US technology.

1992 "The Samson Option," by Seymour M. Hersh reports, “Illicitly obtained intelligence was flying so voluminously from LAKAM into Israeli intelligence that a special code name, JUMBO, was added to the security markings already on the documents. There were strict orders, Ari Ben-Menashe recalled: "Anything marked JUMBO was not supposed to be discussed with your American counterparts."

1993. The ADL is caught operating a massive spying operation on critics of Israel, Arab-Americans, the San Francisco Labor Council, ILWU Local 10, Oakland Educational Association, NAACP, Irish Northern Aid, International Indian Treaty Council, the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco police. Data collected was sent to Israel and in some cases to South Africa. Pressure from Jewish organizations forces the city to drop the criminal case, but the ADL settles a civil lawsuit for an undisclosed sum of cash.

1995 The Defense Investigative Service circulates a memo warning US military contractors that "Israel aggressively collects [US] military and industrial technology." The report stated that Israel obtains information using "ethnic targeting, financial aggrandizement, and identification and exploitation of individual frailties" of US citizens.

1996 A General Accounting Office report "Defense Industrial Security: Weaknesses in US Security Arrangements With Foreign-Owned Defense Contractors" found that according to intelligence sources "Country A" (identified by intelligence sources as Israel, Washington Times, 2/22/96) "conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally." The Jerusalem Post (8/30/96) quoted the report, "Classified military information and sensitive military technologies are high-priority targets for the intelligence agencies of this country." The report described "An espionage operation run by the intelligence organization responsible for collecting scientific and technologic information for [Israel] paid a US government employee to obtain US classified military intelligence documents." The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Shawn L. Twing, April 1996) noted that this was "a reference to the 1985 arrest of Jonathan Pollard, a civilian US naval intelligence analyst who provided Israel's LAKAM [Office of Special Tasks] espionage agency an estimated 800,000 pages of classified US intelligence information."

The GAO report also noted that "Several citizens of [Israel] were caught in the United States stealing sensitive technology used in manufacturing artillery gun tubes."

1996 An Office of Naval Intelligence document, "Worldwide Challenges to Naval Strike Warfare" reported that "US technology has been acquired [by China] through Israel in the form of the Lavi fighter and possibly SAM [surface-to-air] missile technology." Jane's Defense Weekly (2/28/96) noted that "until now, the intelligence community has not openly confirmed the transfer of US technology [via Israel] to China." The report noted that this "represents a dramatic step forward for Chinese military aviation." (Flight International, 3/13/96)

1997 An Army mechanical engineer, David A. Tenenbaum, "inadvertently" gives classified military information on missile systems and armored vehicles to Israeli officials (New York Times, 2/20/97).

1997 The Washington Post reports US intelligence has intercepted a conversation in which two Israeli officials had discussed the possibility of getting a confidential letter that then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher had written to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. One of the Israelis, identified only as “Dov”, had commented that they may get the letter from "Mega”, the code name for Israel’s top agent inside the United States.

1997 US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, complains privately to the Israeli government about heavy-handed surveillance by Israeli intelligence agents.

1997 Israeli agents place a tap on Monica Lewinsky’s phone at the Watergate and record phone sex sessions between her and President Bill Clinton. The Ken Starr report confirms that Clinton warned Lewinsky their conversations were being taped and ended the affair. At the same time, the FBI’s hunt for “Mega” is called off.

2001 It is discovered that US drug agents’ communications have been penetrated. Suspicion falls on two companies, AMDOCS and Comverse Infosys, both owned by Israelis. AMDOCS generates billing data for most US phone companies and is able to provide detailed logs of who is talking to whom. Comverse Infosys builds the tapping equipment used by law enforcement to eavesdrop on all American telephone calls, but suspicion forms that Comverse, which gets half of its research and development budget from the Israeli government, has built a back door into the system that is being exploited by Israeli intelligence and that the information gleaned on US drug interdiction efforts is finding its way to drug smugglers. The investigation by the FBI leads to the exposure of the largest foreign spy ring ever uncovered inside the United States, operated by Israel. Half of the suspected spies have been arrested when 9-11 happens. On 9-11, 5 Israelis are arrested for dancing and cheering while the World Trade Towers collapse. Supposedly employed by Urban Moving Systems, the Israelis are caught with multiple passports and a lot of cash. Two of them are later revealed to be Mossad. As witness reports track the activity of the Israelis, it emerges that they were seen at Liberty Park at the time of the first impact, suggesting a foreknowledge of what was to come. The Israelis are interrogated, and then eventually sent back to Israel. The owner of the moving company used as a cover by the Mossad agents abandons his business and flees to Israel. The United States Government then classifies all of the evidence related to the Israeli agents and their connections to 9-11. All of this is reported to the public via a four part story on Fox News by Carl Cameron. Pressure from Jewish groups, primarily AIPAC, forces Fox News to remove the story from their website. Two hours prior to the 9-11 attacks, Odigo, an Israeli company with offices just a few blocks from the World Trade Towers, receives an advance warning via the internet. The manager of the New York Office provides the FBI with the IP address of the sender of the message, but the FBI does not follow up.

2001 The FBI is investigating 5 Israeli moving companies as possible fronts for Israeli intelligence.

2001 JDL’s Irv Rubin arrested for planning to bomb a US Congressman. He dies before he can be brought to trial.

2002 The DEA issues a report that Israeli spies, posing as art students, have been trying to penetrate US Government offices.

2002 police near the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in southern Washington State stop a suspicious truck and detain two Israelis, one of whom is illegally in the United States. The two men were driving at high speed in a Ryder rental truck, which they claimed had been used to "deliver furniture." The next day, police discovered traces of TNT and RDX military-grade plastic explosives inside the passenger cabin and on the steering wheel of the vehicle. The FBI then announces that the tests that showed explosives were “false positived” by cigarette smoke, a claim test experts say is ridiculous. Based on an alibi provided by a woman, the case is closed and the Israelis are handed over to INS to be sent back to Israel. One week later, the woman who provided the alibi vanishes.

2003 The Police Chief of Cloudcroft stops a truck speeding through a school zone. The drivers turn out to be Israelis with expired passports. Claiming to be movers, the truck contains junk furniture and several boxes. The Israelis are handed over to immigration. The contents of the boxers are not revealed to the public.

2003 Israel deploys assassination squads into other countries, including the United States. The US Government does not protest.

2004 Police near the Nuclear Fuel Services plant in Tennessee stop a truck after a three mile chase, during which the driver throws a bottle containing a strange liquid from the cab. The drivers turn out to be Israelis using fake Ids. The FBI refuses to investigate and the Israelis are released.

2004 Two Israelis try to enter Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, home to eight Trident submarines. The truck tests positive for explosives.

This brings us to the present scandal. Two years into an investigation of AIPAC’s possible role as a spy front for Israel, Larry Franklin, a mid-level Pentagon Analyst is observed by the FBI giving classified information to two officials of AIPAC suspected of being Israeli spies. AIPAC hires lawyer Nathan Lewin to handle their legal defense, the same lawyer who defended suspected Israeli spy Stephen Bryen in 1978.

Larry Franklin worked in the Pentagon Office of Special Plans, run by Richard Perle, at the time Perle (who was caught giving classified information to Israel back in 1970) was insisting that Iraq was crawling with weapons of mass destruction requiring the United States to invade and conquer Iraq. There were no WMDs, of course, and Perle has dumped the blame for the “bad intelligence” on George Tenet. But what is known is that the Pentagon Office of Special Plans was coordinating with a similar group in Israel, in Ariel Sharon’s office.

With two suspected Israeli spies (at least) inside the office from which the lies that launched the war in Iraq originated, it appears that the people of the United States are the victims of a deadly hoax, a hoax that started a war.

The leaking of the investigation of AIPAC to the media on August 28th, 2004 gave advance warning to other spies working with Franklin. The damage to the FBI’s investigation was completed when United States Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered the FBI to stop all arrests in the case. Like the Stephen Bryen case and the hunt for “Mega”, this latest spy scandal seems destined by officials who have their own secret allegiances to protect, barring a massive public outcry.

The organization at the heart of the latest spy investigation, AIPAC, wields tremendous influence over the US Congress. Through its members and affiliated PACs, AIPAC directs a huge flow of campaign cash in favor of, and occasionally against, Senators and Representatives solely on the basis of their willingness to support Israel. As an example, in 2002, U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham received so much help from pro-Israeli pacs that 76% of his campaign budget came from OUTSIDE the state of Alabama, mostly from New York.

Let me repeat that. A Congressman AIPAC wanted elected received more money from pro-Israel groups outside his state than from his own constituents inside his state. Who is that Congressman going to be thinking of when he votes in Congress?

So here is the mother of all scandals.

For two years, the FBI has suspected AIPAC of spying for a foreign country, and for those two years (and for decades before) that group suspected of spying for Israel has been reshaping the US Congress for the benefit of a foreign government.

And THAT is the mother of all scandals.

How to measure anything with a camera and software for $99

"Quick, when I say iPhoto, you think of what. Apple, right? Difficult as it may be, forget Apple for a second and add the word "measure" as in iPhotoMEASURE. What is it? Well, what if I told you that you could use a digital camera, even a cell-phone camera, along with some software to measure any items you can snap a picture of? The solution is the iPhotoMEASURE application that I just heard about. Although it's really geared towards contractors, Realtors and the like, there's a number of consumer applications that make this a compelling product.

First off, the "secret sauce" of the solution is called a "DigiTarget". The DigiTarget gives everything in your photo a frame of reference; it's a single sheet of paper with a 7.5 x 7.5-inch square on it. A 15-inch square version is also available for outdoor measurements. Simply print off a free DigiTarget, affix it to something in your photo scene and snap a pic. The iPhotoMEASURE software uses the DigiTarget to compute the measurements of items in your photo and the company claims that any distance in the picture can be measured with up to 99.5% accuracy. Conceptually, it makes sense since the software has that 7.5- or 15-inch frame of reference."

Read the rest of the blog posting at the link above or click below for the link to the company that makes the software: