Server Issues Being Resolved

>> Friday, June 18, 2010

We have taken steps to resolve our server issues at Accordingly, we will no longer be posting new content here.


Traffic Accidents and Human Security

>> Wednesday, June 09, 2010

As part of my research project on what does and doesn't count as a "human security" problem in the minds of practitioners, I've collected quite a few ideas about "neglected" human security issues that should get more attention.

Among there are traffic accidents - something we tend to tolerate as a fact of modern life but which kill far more people daily than terrorism, war, or crime and are in fact the number of health risk for individuals age 1-34: - one death every 13 minutes on average (as many dead per month as died on 9/11) with young children twice as likely as adults to be victims.

So I'm happy to call readers' attention to the NYTimes' latest "Room for Debate." There is a lot of interesting commentary, and in particular I am now aware of Tom Vanderbilt's blog, which is worth a look.


Kausmentum Fail...

This is sad:

There is sad news though: birther queen Orly Taitz was viciously trounced in her effort to become California Secretary of State, losing the Republican nomination 3-1 in favor of former NFL player Damon Dunn. (I know.) And yet? Orly Taitz got 368,316 votes in that race. In the Senate race for the Democrat nomination, against Barbara Boxer, Slate blogger Mickey Kaus received just 93,599.

This tragic result could deprive us of the ridiculously entertaining spectacle of the Kaus Senate “campaign”, UNLESS some enterprising Californians come together to form California for Kaus. It’s not surprising that Mickey’s “in your face” ideas would find little fertile ground among the radical leftists and illegal immigrants who constitute 94.7% of California Democratic Party primary voters, but it would be a disaster of epic proportions if Mickey let this minor setback prevent him from continuing to bring his message to the people….


More on Unruly Clients

>> Tuesday, June 08, 2010

North Korea probably didn’t need this:

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that a North Korean border guard shot dead three Chinese nationals and wounded one last week in an incident in northeast China, prompting the Chinese government to file a formal complaint.

The shootings took place last Friday at the China-North Korea border by the Chinese city of Dandong, in Liaoning Province, said Qin Gang, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, at a regularly scheduled news conference in Beijing. The four shot Chinese were residents of Dandong and were believed by the guard to be engaged in illegal trade across the border, Mr. Qin added, according to a report by the Chinese-language edition of Global Times, an official newspaper…

It was unclear how the shooting incident would affect relations between North Korea and China, which is North Korea’s closest ally in the region. China has been the host of the six-party talks, a series of negotiations among the United States, North Korea, Russia and several Asian nations aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear program. Last month, Kim Jong-il, the reclusive North Korean leader, made his first visit to China in four years, crossing the border by train and stopping first in the port city of Dalian, then continuing on to Beijing.

The actions of North Korean leaders have been made more opaque and unpredictable in recent months by what analysts believe is Mr. Kim’s effort to engineer a transfer of power to his third son, Kim Jong-un, 27.

Even if they were smugglers, shooting Chinese nationals as they cross the border is probably not a good way to endear oneself to Beijing. North Korea’s survival depends on Beijing’s tolerance…


The Legacy of War

This is one reason why Europeans understand war differently than Americans:

An Allied bomb left over from World War II has exploded in Germany, killing three military engineers who were trying to defuse it. The blast occurred in the central city of Goettingen on Tuesday after construction workers building a sports stadium discovered it in a densely populated area.

Bomb disposal experts were called to the scene to defuse the 500 kilogramme device, which police said was likely to be British. But it exploded before they could neutralise the device. Another six members of the bomb disposal team were injured in the blast, but all were expected to survive.

The legacy of war remains written into the landscape of Europe in a way that’s not really understandable to Americans. This legacy doesn’t provide a full explanation for why Americans and Europeans tend to view military adventurism differently, but there’s no doubt that it’s a factor.


2 Years For 20,000 Lives, 26 Years Later


This makes me want to take a second look at Polly Higgins' idea of prosecuting catastrophic corporate negligence at the International Criminal Court.


The Plot Thickens.

>> Monday, June 07, 2010

The US intelligence analyst who leaked the footage that resulted in Wikileaks' infamous "Collateral Murder" video has been outed by a hacker to whom he boasted of his actions online, and arrested by the Army's Criminal Investigation Division. Wired has the story:

Manning was turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online. In the course of their chats, Manning took credit for leaking a headline-making video of a helicopter attack that Wikileaks posted online in April. The video showed a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.

He said he also leaked three other items to Wikileaks: a separate video showing the notorious 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan that Wikileaks has previously acknowledged is in its possession; a classified Army document evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; and a previously unreported breach consisting of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables that Manning described as exposing “almost criminal political back dealings.”

“Hillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,” Manning wrote.

Manning’s arrest comes as Wikileaks has ratcheted up pressure against various governments over the years with embarrassing documents acquired through a global whistleblower network that is seemingly impervious to threats from adversaries. Its operations are hosted on servers in several countries, and it uses high-level encryption for its document submission process, providing secure anonymity for its sources and a safe haven from legal repercussions for itself. Since its launch in 2006, it has never outed a source through its own actions, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

Manning came to the attention of the FBI and Army investigators after he contacted former hacker Adrian Lamo late last month over instant messenger and e-mail... From the chat logs provided by Lamo, and examined by, it appears Manning sensed a kindred spirit in the ex-hacker. He discussed personal issues that got him into trouble with his superiors and left him socially isolated, and said he had been demoted and was headed for an early discharge from the Army.

When Manning told Lamo that he leaked a quarter-million classified embassy cables, Lamo contacted the Army, and then met with Army CID investigators and the FBI at a Starbucks near his house in Carmichael, California, where he passed the agents a copy of the chat logs. At their second meeting with Lamo on May 27, FBI agents from the Oakland Field Office told the hacker that Manning had been arrested the day before in Iraq by Army CID investigators.

Lamo has contributed funds to Wikileaks in the past, and says he agonized over the decision to expose Manning — he says he’s frequently contacted by hackers who want to talk about their adventures, and he’s never considered reporting anyone before. The supposed diplomatic cable leak, however, made him believe Manning’s actions were genuinely dangerous to U.S. national security.

More thoughts on this as things develop. Interested in readers' gut reactions.


Kausmentum Part XVII

>> Sunday, June 06, 2010

It’s hard for me to view the Kaus Senate bid with anything but amusement, but he’s obviously trying very hard to irritate as many people as he can…


Jim Crow Lives in the Jury Box

>> Friday, June 04, 2010

It's dismaying. While it doesn't seem to get discussed much, the dissent in Miller-El is part of the context that makes Parents Involved so infuriating. Invoking glib tautologies in defense of a "color-blind constitution" becomes pretty hard to sustain when you're unable to find any racial discrimination in a case in which prosecutors systematically excluded black jurors for transparently pretextual reasons. But that's modern conservatism: Brown v. Board has been reinterpreted on the one hand to constitutionally legitimate school systems that are segregated and unequal, while on the other it can prevent school boards from trying to integrate their schools.

In related news, former Time Blog of the Year calls the 14th Amendment "an anachronism."


Friday Geek Blogging.

>> Thursday, June 03, 2010

The next Olympic Sport? Seriously.


Visualizing Privacy

These visualizations are credited to Matt McKeon. If you go to his website, you can track the gradual shift in FB's privacy settings by year. These graphs are only updated through April (so far).

Of course FB has supposedly just made changes: if you're on FB, you may have clicked on the "Improved Privacy Controls" box in the last day or two to "read more." I gave it a click but as far as I can tell this is mostly greenwash. Presumably the information should make it easier to figure out how to change all your settings to where you want them to be, instead of where FB defaults them.

But let's not overstate the importance of the new changes: CEO Mark Zuckerberg seems not to get that a big piece of the issue is the default settings themselves. In fact, at the All Things Digital confab yesterday he clammed up when asked to explain his views on privacy:

According to multiple reports from bloggers, journalists and Twitterers, Facebook's CEO sidestepped questions about facebook privacy rather than giving the audience real, thoughtful answers.

"My God, Zuckerberg is literally dissolving in a lake of his own sweat," live-blogged John Paczkowski on the All Things Digital Web site. "He is visibly flushed, and you can see the beads of sweat rolling down his face. Could this be his Nixon moment?"

Dan Gillmor at Salon thinks the Nixon analogy is misplaced:

The Nixon comparison is, of course, a big stretch -- and it distracts from the much more serious issues.

For one thing, Zuckerberg's panic attack -- which is the most charitable explanation I can come up with -- raised more than a few questions about his fitness as CEO of one of the biggest companies on the Web and, increasingly, one of the most important companies on the planet.

The "he's young, give him a break" folks have half of that right. He's young, just 26 years old, and has the obvious smarts (and a solid senior team) to get his P.R. efforts in better shape. But give a break to someone who wields such influence? Not likely.

I agree with John Henry Clippinger, I think:

The issue is not with social media. Social media is great and here to stay. Moreover, when it goes mobile, it will only get more powerful and more useful. But it also could become easily Orwellian through the exploitation of personal information. It could become a means for total surveillance where the costs and impacts of today's breaches are a trifle by comparison. Think medical information, DNA, all financial and commercial transactions, what you do, where you are, and whom you talk to every minute of the day.

The problem is that information marketing companies should not be like some banks and the credit card companies that make money by tricking and trapping, obfuscation, and betting against their "customers" under the guise of acting in their interest. This is not to say that information marketing companies should not make money off of social media and customer data. They should. Indeed, by providing the proper safeguards, checks and balances, more money can be made off of sensitive data, because it will be trusted and more readily shared and relied upon.

What is needed is a kind of Glass Steagall Act for the collection, use, storage and sale of personal data, which prohibits those banks entrusted to safe guard commercial accounts from also trading in those accounts. Fortunately, the FTC, the White House, FCC, GSA, and DoD, and several credit service providers, telecom carriers, and others are showing more foresight in appreciating the importance of user control and the commercial value of trust and privacy than many financial service and social media companies. But even with their efforts, technology, the market and the money are moving faster than they are.


Serious Political Analysis

Think the BP's massive oil spill and the ensuing massive environmental and economic catastrophe represents a difficult problem? Obviously, you haven't yet heard the solution posed by Mark Penn, Union Buster(TM):

On the BP crisis, he needs to get away from the posturing politicians and the environmentalists and get together with scientists, generals and big-time business people who have experience solving big logistical problems. Now is the time to call in the big brains, lock them in a room, and deliver every possible resource to shut the oil flow down; think Manhattan Project meets Independence Day, with fewer aliens and more eggheads.

Strange that Obama, unlike his otherwise sharp Democratic primary opponent, doesn't think that analysis of this quality merits a 7 figure salary. Obviously, he doesn't know what he's doing...


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