Archive for January 2007
Straight from Yahoo News: “LONDON (AFP) – Four British soldiers in Afghanistan strapped themselves to the wings of fast-moving Apache attack helicopters in a daring attempt to rescue a comrade shot by the Taliban, the defence ministry said.
“This is believed to be the first time UK forces have ever tried this type of rescue mission … It was an extraordinary tale of heroism and bravery of our airmen, soldiers and marines who were all prepared to put themselves back into the line of fire to rescue a fallen comrade,” said UK Task Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Rory Bruce.
Royal Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Ford, 30, was shot on Monday when more than 200 British troops attacked the Islamist militia’s Jugroom Fort in southern Helmand province.
When Ford was discovered to be missing, the Marines first planned a rescue attempt with armoured personnel carriers, but when the Apaches became available they decided the fast attack helicopters provided the best opportunity to rescue him.
But the helicopters can only carry a pilot and a gunner, although according to The Guardian newspaper there are attachments on the wings that soldiers can harness themselves to in emergencies.
Two troops each were strapped to the wings of two Apache helicopters, with a third Apache and several ground units providing covering fire.
After landing at the site of the earlier battle, the four soldiers found Ford dead, but were able to recover his body.”
This undercover investigation is split into six ten minute episodes. Do yourself a favor, section off an hour of your time, and watch each and every one.
Straight from Bare Knuckle Politics: “The letter “X” soon may be banned in Saudi Arabia because it resembles the mother of all banned religious symbols in the oil kingdom: the cross.
The new development came with the issuing of another mind-bending fatwa, or religious edict, by the infamous Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — the group of senior Islamic clergy that reigns supreme on all legal, civil, and governance matters in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The commission’s damning of the letter “X” came in response to a Ministry of Trade query about whether it should grant trademark protection to a Saudi businessman for a new service carrying the English name “Explorer.”
“No! Nein! Nyet!” was the commission’s categorical answer.
Well, never mind that none of the so-called scholars manning the upper ranks of the religious outfit can speak or read a word of English. But their experts who examined the English word “explorer” were struck by how suspicious that “X” appeared. In a kingdom where Friday preachers routinely refer to Christians as pigs and infidel crusaders, even a twisted cross ranks as an abomination.”
Straight from Gizmodo: “Netflix will begin IP rental of films and television this week. Those with better plans get more hours, from 6 to 48 hours a month. Although limited in selection to about 1,000 titles and available initially to a few subscribers, this is the beginning of Netflix’s main business plan to net rent video straight over IP that just wasn’t technically feasible back when they started. It’s limited to the PC right now, on XP and IE only. Over time, they plan to expand the service to the livingroom, and beyond.Quality depends on the users bandwidth, which can range from 1-3mbits, the higher equating to DVD quality. A stream can be watched in 10-15 seconds. The new service will rollout to about 250k users a month, as they scale up their delivery service to satisfy the entire Netflix user base of 6 million. That should happen, according to the website, by June.
IP video livingroom solutions by Sony, Apple, Microsoft and all the cable providers are on their way or here. So, we’ll see how fast Netflix jumps to the livingroom. Could be time for that Netflix Set Top box we asked for at xmas.”
Straight from Bare Knuckle Politics: “Guantanamo, Cuba | Cindy Sheehan and other peace activists marched to the Cuban military zone wrapping around the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay on Thursday, demanding the United States close its prison for terror suspects five years after the first detainees arrived.
A dozen protesters walked along a lonely highway connecting the Cuban city of Guantanamo to the military zone. The women in the group tied pink and yellow flowers to the barbed-wire fence marking the start of the zone, a Cuban minefield with 4-1/2-mile road leading to the entrance of the U.S. base. The protesters were not allowed past the fence.
“What I’ve read happens in this prison makes me sick to my stomach,” said Sheehan, who became an anti-war activist after her 24-year-old son Casey died in Iraq. “I’m calling for the cycle of violence to stop now, to close this prison.”
Also among the marchers was Asif Iqbal, a British Muslim who spent 2-1/2 years at the prison. He expressed support for those still inside.
“Every day, every minute, they are in our thoughts,” the 25-year-old said. “These are human beings. They have some right to justice, too.”
Straight from Game World Network: “The employees of that store and others report that while they’re still fielding a high number of Wii-related calls during each day, they can go an entire day without any inquiries at all about the PS3. One store showed me a scratch pad they kept by the phone one day, making marks for each Wii call and PS3 call they received. At the end of that day the Wii had gotten 75, while the PS3 came in at 2.”
Straight from The Daily Telegraph: “The Central Intelligence Agency has been authorised to take covert action against Hizbollah as part of a secret plan by President George W. Bush to help the Lebanese government prevent the spread of Iranian influence. Senators and congressmen have been briefed on the classified “non-lethal presidential finding” that allows the CIA to provide financial and logistical support to the prime minister, Fouad Siniora.
The finding was signed by Mr Bush before Christmas after discussions between his aides and Saudi Arabian officials. Details of its existence, known only to a small circle of White House officials, intelligence officials and members of Congress, have been passed to The Daily Telegraph.”
Straight from Slashdot: “Not to be upstaged by GM’s plug-in electric concept vehicle, Ford has unveiled its own concept. The twists are design by Airstream and a hydrogen-powered fuel cell to charge the battery. From the AutoblogGreen article:
“The fuel cell, made by Ballard, turns on automatically when the battery charge dips below 40 percent. With the on-board charger (110/220 VAC), the battery pack can be refilled at home. Ford says the HySeries Drive is 50 percent smaller and less complex than conventional fuel cell system and should have more than double the lifetime.”
Straight from Slashdot: “It appears that, despite skepticism, ‘muslix64′ was the real deal. Starting from a riddle posted on pastebin.com, members on the doom9 forum identified the Title key for the HD-DVD release ‘Serenity.’ Volume Unique Keys and Title keys for other discs followed within hours, confirming that software HD-DVD players, like any common program, store important run-time data in memory. Here’s a link to decryption utility and sleuthing info in the original doom9 forum thread. The Fair Use crowd has won Round One; now how will the industry respond?”
Straight from Slashdot: “The first prototype — a watertight shell of a two-story house built in 24 hours without a single builder on site — will be erected in California before April. The robots are rigged to a metal frame, enabling them to shuttle in three dimensions and assemble the structure of the house layer by layer. The sole foreman on site operates a computer programmed with the designer’s plans… Inspired by the inkjet printer, the technology goes far beyond the techniques already used for prefabricated homes. ‘This will remove all the limitations of traditional building,’ said [an architect involved with the UK project]. ‘Anything you can dream you can build.’”
Straight from Ars Technica: “The group has launched a donation drive to purchase the man-made isle of Sealand , a World War II-era British naval platform sitting in the sea off the coast of Harwich in southern England. For the last few decades, the rusting structure has been run as a “principality” by Paddy Roy Bates, perhaps better known by his princely title, Roy of Sealand. Roy and his family value their independence and want nothing to do with England (except to live there and maintain their English passports), and they’ve been involved in a series of bizarre confrontations over the platform that they first occupied in 1967.
Roy’s son was once kidnapped by some “legitimate business men” who had come to Sealand to cut some kind of deal, and Roy used guns to defend his platform against the British Navy in 1968. Perhaps inevitably, the platform attracted interest from computer users, who saw it as a place where libertarian fantasies could be played out with no government interference.”
Straight from Ars Technica: “If we believe Ronald Grover’s sources in his BusinessWeek article of last week, the problem is liberal DRM and not piracy, and this is a startling admission. According to him, an unnamed studio executive said that a major reason why studios weren’t jumping on board with the iTunes Store and other similar services is that their DRM is too lax. “[Apple's] user rules just scare the heck out of us.” It’s not piracy that’s the concern, it’s their ability to control how you use the content you purchase.As it turns out, five devices authorized for playback is too many, and the studios apparently believe that this is “just as bad” as piracy. Hollywood believes that iTunes Store customers will add their buddies’ devices to their authorization list, and like evil communists, they’ll share what they have purchased. This makes little sense, because the way iTunes works, you can only issue so many device authorizations at a time. You could share with a friend, but then your friend would have to be authorized to play all of your purchased content, taking up an authorization. Inconvenient, huh? But is it a big problem?
I can walk in to Best Buy right now, buy a DVD, and lend it to every person I know. Who hasn’t lent a DVD to a friend or colleague? This is perfectly legal behavior, but you can see that Hollywood hopes to stop this kind of thing via DRM. Thanks to the DMCA, once copyrighted contents have been encrypted, your rights fly right out the window.”
Straight from Engadget: “It seems that satellite radio just can’t catch a break, as the RIAA and its indirect constituents apparently have a perpetual target set on crippling services associated with recording content. Yet again satellite radio (along with internet radio) is under fire, and this time a number of senators are pushing “rules embedded in a copyright bill, called the Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act,” which could “restrict listeners’ ability to record and play back individual songs.” Furthermore, the act calls for streams to be laced with “reasonably available copy-protection” so that timeshifting material becomes next to impossible (and illegal, too), and that portable recording devices such as the much-debated XM Inno and Sirius S50 would no longer allow “automatic recording.” The reasoning stems from a belief that satellite / internet radio should still be a “passive experience,” presumably forcing us to look backwards rather than forward in radio technologies, and proponents of the agenda somehow insinuate that enforcing these rules will curb “music theft.” Unsurprisingly, the RIAA “applauded the effort and urged Congress to make passing the legislation a top priority this year,” while most everyone else on the planet (including spokespersons for XM and the Home Recording Rights Coalition) is balking at what would potentially make satellite / internet radio less accessible to desiring consumers. While we’ve no idea how quickly action will be taken on these newly surfaced guidelines, we can all rest assured that our representatives will devote every waking hour to this here issue until it’s finalized and implemented, at least if the RIAA has anything to do with it.”
Straight from Bare Knuckle Politics: “The U.S. Embassy in Athens came under fire early Friday from a rocket that exploded inside the modern glass-front building but caused no casualties in an attack police suspect was the work of Greek leftists.Narrowly missing the embassy emblem, the anti-tank shell pierced the building near the front entrance shortly before 6 a.m., damaging a bathroom on the third room, which houses the ambassador’s office, and shattering windows in nearby buildings.
“We’re treating it as a very serious attack,” U.S. Ambassador Charles Ries said.
Greece’s Public Order Minister said police were examining the authenticity of anonymous phone calls to a private security company claiming responsibility on behalf of Revolutionary Struggle, a militant left-wing group.”
Straight from Bare Knuckle Politics: “Rep. Charles Rangel, a fierce opponent of the Iraq war, on Thursday called for a new military draft, saying everyone between 18 and 42 should be asked to share the burden of wartime responsibilities.
The Harlem Democrat has offered the bill before, but this is the first time he has done so as a member of the new Democratic majority in Congress.
“I’m serious about the draft because I do believe, in wartime, if someone has to serve, it should be everyone has to be in a position to be liable to serve,” said Rangel, who has long argued the country’s minorities and lower class are doing a disproportionate share of the fighting in the all-volunteer U.S. military.”
Straight from Bare Knuckle Politics: “A spokesman for radical Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has warned that US President George W. Bush’s new Iraq strategy risks sending thousands of American troops to their deaths.
“The American people have to prevent their sons from coming to Iraq or they may return in coffins,” said Sheikh Abdel Razzaq al-Nadawi, a senior official in Sadr’s movement in the Shiite holy city of Najaf.
On Wednesday, Bush announced a plan to reinforce the 130,000-strong US force in Iraq with 21,500 extra troops to help Iraqi forces take on illegal militias such as Sadr’s feared Mahdi Army.
“The problem of Iraq is the US presence and the increasing this presence will double the problem,” Nadawi told AFP on Friday.
“This is not the first plan announced by Bush. All plans have failed and this plan will not be any better. We do not welcome this strategy and moreover we do not welcome the US soldiers,” he said.
Nadawi accused Bush of taking decisions about Iraq’s security without consulting Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government, who owes his job to the votes of 32 Sadrist deputies.
Another Sadr movement mouthpiece, Hamdalla al-Rikabi of the group’s office in western Baghdad, accused the United States of wanting to spread chaos in Iraq rather than to contain it.
“Now we know that the occupation forces the supporters of terrorism. They don’t want stability of this country, they want to divide it,” he said.”
Straight from Bare Knuckle Politics: “Tears run from the eyes of U.S. President George W. Bush during a ceremony in honor of Medal of Honor winner Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham in the East room of the White House in Washington, January 11, 2007. Cpl. Dunham was killed when he jumped on a grenade to save fellow members of his Marine patrol while serving in Iraq.”
Straight from BBC News: “US forces have stormed a building in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil and seized six people said to be Iranians, prompting a diplomatic incident.
Iranian and Iraqi officials said the building was an Iranian consulate and the detainees its employees.
The US military said it was still investigating, but that the building did not have diplomatic status.
The troops raided the building at about 0300 (0001GMT), taking away computers and papers, according to local media.
AFP news agency quoted Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman as saying he did not know the nationality of the six but said they were “suspected of being closely tied to activities targeting Iraq and coalition forces”.
“I can confirm for you through our forces there that this is not a consulate or a government building,” he said.”
Straight from Bare Knuckle Politics: “A U.S. Border Patrol entry Identification Team site was overrun Wednesday night along Arizona’s border with Mexico.
According to the Border Patrol, an unknown number of gunmen attacked the site in the state’s West Desert Region around 11 p.m. The site is manned by National Guardsmen. Those guardsmen were forced to retreat.
The Border Patrol will not say whether shots were fired. However, no Guardsmen were injured in the incident.
The Border Patrol says the incident occurred somewhere along the 120 mile section of the border between Nogales and Lukeville. The area is known as a drug corridor. Last year, 124-thousand pounds of illegal drugs were confiscated in this area.
The Border patrol says the attackers quickly retreated back into Mexico.”
Straight from Deadline Hollywood Daily: “I have Peter Jackson’s response today to New Line’s Bob Shaye telling SCI FI Wire that the studio won’t work with the Lord of the Rings franchise director on the proposed movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or any other film. Ever. “I do not want to make a movie with somebody who is suing me. It will never happen during my watch.” Shaye said this and more in an interview on January 5th while promoting the film he’s directed, The Last Mimzy. Shaye’s comments included personal attacks on Jackson, calling him “arrogant… misinformed… myopic…” Shaye also said he was “offended” that many of the Rings trilogy actors “suddenly, because, I’m guessing, of Peter’s complaint,” have declined to participate in celebrating New Line’s 40th anniversary. And Shaye, who himself is obscenely wealthy, kept making a big deal about “the quarter of a billion dollars” paid to Jackson already for the Rings trilogy.
But here’s what Peter Jackson says:
“Our issue with New Line Cinema has only ever been about their refusal to account for financial anomalies that surfaced from a partial audit of The Fellowship of the Ring. Contrary to recent comments made by Bob Shaye, we attempted to discuss the issues raised by the Fellowship audit with New Line for over a year but the studio was and continues to be completely uncooperative. This has compelled us to file a lawsuit to pursue our contractual rights under the law. Nobody likes taking legal action, but the studio left us with no alternative. For over two years, New Line has denied us the ability to audit The Two Towers and The Return of the King, despite repeated requests. Film auditing is a common and straightforward practice within the industry and we don’t understand why New Line Cinema has taken this position. In light of these circumstances, I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to be involved in New Line Cinema’s 40th Anniversary video. I have never discussed this video with any of the cast of The Lord of the Rings. The issues that Bob Shaye has with the cast pre-date this law suit by many years. Fundamentally, our legal action is about holding New Line to its contractual obligations and promises. It is regrettable that Bob has chosen to make it personal. I have always had the highest respect and affection for Bob and other senior management at New Line and continue to do so.”