Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 25th, 2007

It gets uglier and uglier

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The Sunnis, in case you’ve not been following the twists and turns of US “policy” and “strategy”, is the group that the US has been arming in recent months. And now they’re using those arms.

Sunni Arab extremists have begun a systematic campaign to assassinate police chiefs, police officers, other Interior Ministry officials and tribal leaders throughout Iraq, staging at least 10 attacks in the last 48 hours.

Eight policemen have been killed, among them the police chief of Baquba, the largest city in Diyala Province. Two other police chiefs survived attacks, although one was left in critical condition, and about 30 police officers were injured, according to reports from local security officers.

“We warned the government just a few days ago that there is a new plan by terrorist groups to target senior governmental officials, and particularly Interior Ministry officials,” said Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal, the deputy interior minister for information and national investigations. The Interior Ministry is dominated by Shiites, as are the security forces, which are widely distrusted by Sunni Arabs.

The Islamic State of Iraq took responsibility on Tuesday for the attack in Diyala, which killed at least 18 people on Monday. The group has ties to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown extremist group whose leadership has foreign ties, according to American intelligence officials.

The latest outbreak of violence follows closely on the concerted efforts of President Bush and Gen. David H. Petraeus to portray the American troop “surge” as having succeeded in bringing more stability to Iraq. Iraqi officials said Tuesday that the attacks might well have been intended to blunt that message.

“The main reason behind all these attacks are the signs of improvement of the security situation mentioned in the Crocker-Petraeus report,” said Tahseen al-Sheikhly, the Iraqi spokesman for the security plan, in a reference to the recent Congressional testimony of General Petraeus and the ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker. “The terrorist groups are just trying to say to the world that the report did not reflect the reality of the security situation in Iraq.”

More at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2007 at 6:15 pm

Netflix is now truly Netflix

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You can watch movies downloaded from the Internet—all part of your current plan. You can watch a movie not from your DVD queue even if the queue is full (as mine is). If you use Firefox, you do have to use IE Tab to install the software and watch the movie, but that’s not problem. I can’t find how to switch on subtitles yet, so still need to do some experimenting.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2007 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Movies & TV, Software, Technology

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Beware: OpenOffice bug on Windows, Mac, Linux

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Sounds like it will affect only the careless:

ZDNet UK is reporting that a just-discovered bug in OpenOffice can victimize versions of the software running on Mac and Linux in addition to Windows. The bug allows an attacker to use malformed TIFF images to run malicious code on the user’s computer, ostensibly for the purpose of spreading the malicious code like a trojan. The official explanation of a heap overflow exploit can be found here. (Sounds likes when there’s too much garbage in our can.)

OpenOffice’s developers have not yet released a fix for the bug, but the firm that discovered it is advising OpenOffice users to “be careful” with attachments received from unknown sources. Good advice—whether you run OpenOffice, Microsoft Office, or Wordstar.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2007 at 3:39 pm

Posted in Software

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Interesting discussion re: ad

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Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2007 at 1:31 pm

Posted in GOP, Iraq War, Military

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The US today: surveillance of citizens

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It’s not just your phone:

Jennifer Flynn is not a rabble-rouser. She’s not an aspiring suicide bomber. She doesn’t advocate the overthrow of the government. Instead, she pushes for funding and better treatment for people with HIV and AIDS.

Better keep an eye on her.  Wait! Somebody already did.

On the day before a rally by the New York City AIDS Housing Network at the 2004 Republican National Convention – a rally by an organization Flynn co-founded, and a rally that the NYPD had approved – she experienced something straight out of a spy novel.

While visiting her family in Hillside, N.J., Flynn spotted a car with a New York license plate parked outside the house. When she left to head back to her Brooklyn home that evening, the car followed hers. Shortly after leaving Hillside, two more vehicles, also with New York plates, seemed to be tailing her, too.

Trying to assure herself she wasn’t nuts, Flynn tested her hunch – changing lanes, making turns, pulling over and parking. The drivers in those three vehicles mimicked her actions.

At one point, she recalled, she slowed down and one of the other vehicles ended up alongside her car. She looked over to see several men in the vehicle. She gestured toward them. The men “threw up their arms as if to say, ‘We’re only doing what we’re told,'” she remembers.

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Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2007 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

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Good book-tools

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Good things to have. I have Book Burro already, and now I’m installing the Library Looup thing.

Book Burro – a Firefox extension that will show prices at the major online bookstores as well as some library availability (through WorldCat). When I’m browsing at Amazon, for example, I can click on the Book Burro panel to see if there’s a lower price elsewhere.

The LibraryLookup bookmarklet sits up on my bookmark toolbar. I can click it anytime I’m at a book page on Amazon to see whether my local library has it (since that library doesn’t show up on WorldCat).

The Library Lookup bookmarklet works great. It opens the catalog in a different window, though, so at first I didn’t realize it was working. Very nice tool.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2007 at 12:54 pm

Posted in Books, Firefox, Software

The costs of over-reaction to terrorism

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Via Schneier on Security, this post:

So cholera has now reached Baghdad. That’s not much of a surprise given the utter breakdown of infrastructure. But there’s a reason the cholera is picking up speed now. From the NYT:

“We are suffering from a shortage of chlorine, which is sometimes zero,” Dr. Ameer said in an interview on Al Hurra, an American-financed television network in the Middle East. “Chlorine is essential to disinfect the water.”

So why is there is a shortage? Because insurgents have laced a few bombs with chlorine and the U.S. and Iraq have responded by making it  darn hard to import the stuff. From the AP:

[A World Health Organization representative in Iraq] also said some 100,000 tons of chlorine were being held up at Iraq’s border with Jordan, apparently because of fears the chemical could be used in explosives. She urged authorities to release it for use in decontaminating water supplies.

I understand why Iraq would put restrictions on  dangerous chemicals. And I’m sure nobody intended for the restrictions to be so burdensome that they’d effectively cut off Iraq’s clean water supply. But that’s what looks to have happened. What makes it all the more tragic is that chlorine–for all the hype and worry–is actually a very ineffective booster  for bombsOf the roughly dozen  chlorine-laced bombings in Iraq, it appears  the chlorine has killed exactly nobody.

In other words, the biggest damage from chlorine bombs–as with so many terrorist attacks–has come from overreaction to it. Fear operates as a “force multipier” for terrorists and in this case has helped them cut off Iraq’s clean water. Pretty impressive feat for some  bombs that turned out to be close to duds.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2007 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Iraq War

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