Posts tagged ‘schneier’

The hawks are circling Iran again

What the crap is this!? Here are some of today’s headlines:

If you just glanced at today’s headlines, would you think Iran was building a nuke and was likely to have it very soon? I certainly would. It’s only after you read the articles that you find out the actual “story” is that Iran theoretically has enough uranium atoms to make a bomb but would first need to enrich them to become weapons grade, and they won’t have the technical capability to do that for years to come. What the articles don’t even mention is that the uranium is part of Iran’s civilian power program, it’s purified enough to be used in a nuclear power plant but not a bomb, Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty under which it is given the inalienable right to civilian nuclear power but pledges not to pursue nuclear weapons, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has signed off on the whole program.

What kind of bullshit is this!? This is not newsworthy and will only confuse people more about Iran. It’s like saying that by living near the beach, I’ve amassed enough silicon to build my own computer from scratch (something I’ve thought would be cool to do for years: I want to start with raw materials and make a 2-function calculator or something). Except that when you get down to it, I’d still need to purify and dope the silicon, create transistors and then connect thousands of them in the right order to get anything close to the results I want. So, while it’s technically true that I’ve got access to enough silicon, I’m actually still years away from results (and not actively working on it in the first place). It’s a non-issue.

It really irks me that the press picks up on this drivel while ignoring things like, say, the terrorist building a dirty bomb on US soil, which seems far more interesting, relevant, imminent, and dangerous (original source on page 11 of this leaked FBI document). Bruce Schneier suggests that this isn’t pressworthy because the terrorist wasn’t Muslim. Hooray, anti-Muslim bias in the media!

To be fair, I’ve found three articles on Iran today whose headlines don’t seem overly misleading: Reuters’ Iran “not close” to nuclear weapon: Gates, Politico’s Gates and Mullen disagree on Iran (which at least mentions that not everyone in government thinks Iran is getting a nuke tomorrow, though it does sow the seeds of doubt), and the Tehran Times’ IAEA officials: All materials at Natanz under control (though honestly, no one is going to believe the Tehran Times if it’s the minority dissenting voice about Iranian operations).

and people wonder why I get so frustrated with the media.

News is far overdue

First off, there has been a huge backlash against Facebook in the two days since they unveiled their new creepy stalker newsfeed. The group I linked to yesterday already has the membership of about 5% of all of Facebook (and that includes all the Chipotle Burritos, Case Dorms, and residents of Guttlesohn Falls that are signed up, too). This has even prompted many newspapers to take notice. It’s pretty cool to watch so many people actually stand up and protest for what they want.

Having said that, the big news today is that President Bush finally admitted to having a network of secret CIA prisons scattered around the world. I have posted about rumors of these before. It’s pretty discouraging to find that they were true, but slightly hopeful that enough people within the CIA and elsewhere in the government are beginning to stand up and say that this really should stop. edit: Bush went so far as to say that prisoners would be transferred to Guantanamo Bay and given rights from the Geneva Conventions.

Speaking of people getting fed up with unpopular polities, the Democrats tried to have a vote of no confidence on Donald Rumsfeld. It was blocked by Republicans, but at least they’re starting to fight back. For too long have the Democrats just rolled over and let the Republicans do whatever they want. I hope this is a sign of things to come. This comes in the wake of a very controversial speech by Rumsfeld, in which he drew parallels between terrorism today and fascism in the 1930’s, and then attacked Amnesty International (the first group to condemn the secret CIA prisons) for questioning the US. The government tried to censor news agencies that reported on this speech, but they have held strong on their articles.

It’s pretty cool to see everyone starting to wake up and fight back against all of this stuff!

On a less uplifting note, the truce in Darfur is being threatened. I apparently missed when this truce began; does anyone else remember hearing about thata few months ago? The problem here, like in Lebanon until recently (I’ll get to that soon) is that the UN has no actual power, and the countries that make up the UN are reluctant to contribute troops voluntarily (and China, Russia, and India are already arming the fighters).

Going back to less recent news, Europe has committed troops to keeping the peace in Lebanon and attempting to disarm Hezbollah. Both Israel and Hezbollah (and their benefactor, Iran) seem to be claiming victory here: Israel for getting the UN to pledge to try to disarm Hezbollah, and Hezbollah for firing so many rockets and killing so many civilians and not being completely destroyed (yet) in response. I am ever hopeful that the Middle East can settle down, but I don’t think it’s likely to happen until the UN gets a concrete plan to disarm Hezbollah (and then solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but they’ve at least made a little headway here already).

Security guru and all-around awesome dude Bruce Schneier has a pretty rational look at the liquid explosives plot to blow up British airplanes bound for the US (which led to a US ban on liquids; special thanks to Natalie for the link). He mentions some very good points about the futility of our current strategy and how using more investigation and intelligence will work much better than our current strategy of banning everything and making everyone scared. Among other methods, he suggests that watching body language to find nervous, suspicious-acting characters is much more effective than banning liquids or shoes. This reminds me of a 2002 debacle in which airport security forced a woman to drink her own breast milk to “prove” that it was not a terrorist weapon. Although the current rules make exceptions for breast milk, medicine, and a couple other things, the entire situation is ridiculous.

Due to the UN’s hesitation on sanctioning Iran, the US is considering unilateral sanctions instead. Because, you know, unilateral sanctions have worked so well with Cuba. I suspect this is just empty talk, but it’s the sort of thing the Bush Administration is just crazy enough to try anyway.

Right. I think that’s about all the news I’ve been meaning to post. I can now close about 20 Firefox tabs.