Stuff you should read

Coming to America

Posted on Thursday 17 February 2005

Dear everyone,

I will be arriving to the USA this weekend. I will be there for 2 weeks. One week i will be in boston. The other week i will be in cleveland taking care of my mom post-op. During that time i shall have access to the internet via my girlfriend’s computer or my motehr’s laptop in the hotelroom, so i will keep you posted and keep posting. This won’t be a hiatus, but i have to warn you it might get kinda slow.

However, if you are in the states and around the New york or boston or cleveland area and want to say hi or get a drink or something, feel free to e-mail me and we should be able to figure something out. ok?

Peace

Sam, The Sandmonkey

ps: I apologize for not mentioning much about my mom those past weeks, despite the number of you who keep asking me abouyt it. I feel bad, but i have decided for slightly paranoid reasons that i shouldn’t talk a lot about my mom and her condition out of fear that it might help some government goon identify her and thereby identifying me. I don’t wanna cause her or my family any harm by doing what i do, you know?

The Sandmonkey @ 1:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
The syrian bluff and the next step

Posted on Wednesday 16 February 2005

A lot of people in my country seem disinclined to believe that the Rafik Harriri assassination was carried out by the Syrians as I believe, the Harriri family believes and the one million mourners that walked in Harriri’s funeral believe. Despite all of that, and the fact that Harriri was killed by a highly sophisticated bomb and the threat that the current Lebanese Prime Minister addressed to the opposition, some people still chose to think that the Syrians are innocent and that they are simply being implicated in all of this. Their argument is this: What do the Syrians have to gain by this? To them I say : a hold on Lebanese power. I would post my own argument, but there is this great article on Slate which kinda details why this assassination happened this way and what the Syrians meant by it. Here are the money shots:

In the wake of Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, Hariri played a key role in developing this property, which, in turn, made him a billionaire, a major political force in Lebanon, and a regional player with important patrons in both Saudi Arabia and Europe. Apparently, the message behind the murder of this real-estate and media giant is that no one in Lebanon really has power, Syria only leases it out.

An independent extremely popular opposition leader, a Sunni man nonetheless, could really challenge that assertions that the only real power in Lebanon is the one backed by Syrians. The Syrians can’t have that. Especially with the continued international pressure that has emboldened the Lebanese opposition against them.

Opposition leaders grabbed at the main chance when they saw how furious Washington was with Assad’s continued support of the insurgency in Iraq. The White House has been threatening Syria for some time now and upped the ante by making the regime’s occupation of Lebanon a high and very public priority in its Middle East policy. Of course, the Syrians do not want to leave Lebanon, but if they must, they at least want to depart on their own terms. In the meantime, Damascus wants the United States to shut up and remember how bad it can make things in this part of the world for American presidents and their interesting ideas. Certainly, the Syrians have not forgotten how, in 1983, they helped drive the United States from the region when a Damascus-backed militia killed 241 Marines, sailors, and soldiers with a car bomb.

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For his part, however, Assad is gambling that for all its tough talk, the White House has neither the troops, the time, the energy, nor the domestic political credibility to back up its threats. The Syrians are probably not wrong. After all, what kind of meaningful action can the United States take? A missile strike against Damascus will add much to Syrian prestige in the region and little to that of Washington, unless the White House is willing to commit troops—and right now those troops are tied down in Iraq. In short, Assad has called Bush’s bluff.

And that’s why Assad doesn’t care that much for all of the US tough talk. He knows, that for the time being he is safe. It’s the political equivalent of playing chicken. He knows that the US won’t bomb Lebanon and won’t bomb Syria, because it will just give Bashar backing and support the conspiracy theorists who will go on and on talking about how the US killed Harriri to find an excuse to attack Syria(like it needed one with the Iraq situation). This of course would fuel the usual “pan-arabism” in the hearts of all arabs who don’t know anything about whats going on expect that the US and Israel are “EEEEEVIL”. The irony would be of course, that the only people who would be happy if Syria is attacked are the lebanese. You know, for the same reason the Kuwaitis didn’t mind the US war on Iraq at all? Anyway..

To understand the repercussions, remember that the White House has maintained that success in Iraq would have ripple effects throughout the region. As it turned out, this is true. The presence of U.S. forces in Iraq indicated that the United States meant business, a posture that encouraged the Lebanese opposition to challenge Syria. But the ripple effect also works the other way. If opposition figures are assassinated in Beirut, this is a message that, for all its power, the United States can’t always be there to protect you. Even worse is that if the Bush administration does nothing about Hariri’s murder, the message will be that Washington cannot and will not protect you at all. It will be very hard to get people in the region to work with the United States if everyone believes that there is no difference between sticking your neck out and handing an executioner his weapon. It will cost Washington prestige among its allies in Iraq and show convenient “friends” like Egypt and Saudi Arabia that the White House is so vulnerable there is little price to be paid for ignoring it.

And that’s basically it. That’s Syria’s plan. Kill the threat before it gets way too big for you to contain. The theory is, if they killed Harriri, his death would create a power vacuum and would scare the smaller opposition leaders into towing the line with Syria. They know that the US won’t do anything really; maybe pose a couple of sanctions, but so what? It’s not like their relationship with each other was that great to begin with. And as long as they get to stay in Lebanon they don’t really care what else happens. They must be really happy now with themselves and how they are going to get away with it: Who is gonna stop them now, with their biggest threat gone?

Ehhh, how about Rafik Harriri’s son?

It seems that the Lebanese supporters and mourners of Harriri, both Christian and Muslim, have been trying to convince Harriri’s oldest son, Bahaeddine, to run in his father’s place in next May’s elections. Use his father’s name to carry out his legacy and spoil the plans of those who killed him. This , of course, would drive the Syrians bonkers. The change won’t be in the form of invading westerners that they could brand as “crusaders against Islam”, but carried through from within Lebanon, by a Lebanese Sunni Muslim who will be fighting for his country’s sovereignty and democracy. That would be a completely different ballgame, one that the Baathist don’t know how to win and are bound to lose. And the moment that happens in Lebanon, its effect is bound to spill over to Syria and threaten their rule there. The irony of it all would be, that even by killing Harriri, they couldn’t stop what he stood for or what he demanded. Bashar’s regime may have called America’s bluff, but by killing Harriri, they might have gotten way more then they bargained for. They may survive the Bush doctrine, but it seems highly doubtful that they will survive Harriri’s legacy, and that is more then fine by me.

The Sandmonkey @ 4:15 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
Lebanon reaching a boiling point

Posted on Tuesday 15 February 2005

As i sat this morning watching the Al Jazeerah and LBC channels for coverage on Rafik Harriri’s assassination, I was kind of humbeld by how the coverage wasn’t the usual status quo B.S. that would involve blaming Israel and the USA and taking away all the blame from Syria, and actually involved a lot of open accusations from the Lebanese opposition and the news anchors to Syria. I watched as members of the oppositions cried in the middle of a press conference in which they held the current lebanese government responsible and demanded that they do not attend Harriri’s funeral. I watched as members of the syria-loyal government squirmed when questioned about the assissination. I watched as the lebanese minister of interior warned that accusing syria is unacceptable cause it would “undermine the lebanese unity”. And as i watched i realised that what i am probably watching is the first nail in the coffin of the syrian occupation of lebanon.

And that brought a tiny smile to my face.

Lebanon is boiling, make no mistake about it. Today is the first day of a three day period of national mourning, the opposition already called for the government’s resignation and a complete Syrian troop pullout. It seems that despite syria’s continued denial, the lebanese people know who is responsible: protesters hurled stones at the Baath party headquarters in al-Kula area and burned pictures of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad.

I guess the most amazing thing to me was a last week article that i found at Al-Ahram weekly website that discussed the rapidly growing anti-Syrian opposition movement in Lebanon and how they warned the authorities in Beirut against clamping down on its key figures ahead of legislative elections in May in which Syria’s military presence is a key feature. Omar Karami, the syria supporting prime minister responded by saying : “They are crossing all boundaries — Syria and the nationalists in Lebanon are not weak — we will show them”.

And show them they sure did, huh?

Here are some really interesting snippets i found in that article:

Pro-Syrian politicians accuse Israeli officials of helping draft Resolution 1559, which did not name Damascus and Hizbullah by name, but Secretary-General Annan who is due to produce a crucial report on its implementation specified by name Syria and the Muslim Shia group in a Security Council document.

The opposition rejected government charges.

“It seems that they have gone back to the language of threats but I remember that it was the Baath gangs who killed Kamal Jumblatt,” the opposition leader responded, in reference to his late father who was assassinated in 1977. Blaming Syria for the late leader of a Muslim-leftist alliance that opposed Damascus at the time, Jumblatt drew charges of treason and massacres during Lebanon’s civil war.

“Will there be new assassinations?” Walid Jumblatt asked a gathering in Beirut on Sunday, citing an October attempt on the life of his top ally, former minister Marwan Hamadeh, who survived a car bomb attack that killed his body guard. Jumblatt held intelligence services responsible for the blast.

Mr. Jumblatt, i believe your question just got answerd!

The Sandmonkey @ 1:36 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
RIP Rafik Harriri

Posted on Monday 14 February 2005

This post was supposed to be some kind of jokey snarky stupid let’s-make-fun-of-valentines-day post. Unfortunately, when i hear the news that Rafik Harriri died in what is referred to as one of the most brutal assassination attempts ever, well, all the sense of humor in me kinda died as well.

I really liked that man. I really did. I liked him even before i saw his name on the Business school at BU and found out that he sponsers poor lebanese students to come study at BU all expenses paid. I liked him when he was prime minister of lebanon and when he wasn’t. I liked him for standing up to the syrians and wanting them out. The man was a self-made billionare. He wasn’t a corrupt politician and he cared for his country and people. And most of all, he stood up to the syrian occupation and wanted them to leave his country and stop using it as a base for attacks on israel that they are too chicken to launch from Syria. I really really liked this man.

And now he is dead.

I don’t care what anyone says or about the crazy talk dejour that will involve some sort of Americans/israeli/zionist/imperialist conspiracy theory to create a wedge between the arabs and divide them.Hell, Iran already blamed Israel. This is simply bullshit. The arabs are divided as it is and no one needed to create a wedge between lebanon and syria. Ask any lebanese person and he will tell you that he wants the syrians out. If living in the middle-east has taught me anything it’s that things are never that complicated. Any story that involves an explanation longer then 2 sentences is probably bullshit or an excuse to hide or cover -up a screw-up of some sort. There is no unknown terrorist group behind it; there is no american/ israeli conspiracy. The syrians did it, cause the man was leading the opposition to get them out. One sentence. End of story. Thank you very much.

Now, all that we can hope for, is that the man’s death doesn’t end in vain. Let’s hope the lebanese opposition takes the opprutunity and the momentum and starts a movement to get the syrians out, hopefully with the increased pressure and support of the Bush adminstration. Let’s all hope for a free lebanon and for the syrian baathist bastards to get the hell out. That was Rafik Harriri’s goal and dream. Let’s hope it also becomes his legacy.

Ohh yeah, I almost forgot: Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Sandmonkey @ 2:53 pm
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Give the Iraqi voters the Nobel peace prize

Posted on Sunday 13 February 2005

Finally, a cause that i am willing to rally for, brought to you by Daniel Henninger at the opinionjournal : Give the Iraqi voters the Nobel peace prize!

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee will announce its 2005 winner in October. I think that this year the voters of Iraq should receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

They have already won the world’s peace prize by demonstrating in a single day a commitment not seen in our lifetime to peace, self-determination and human rights–the goals for which the Nobel Peace Prize began in 1901. Formal recognition by the Nobel Committee of what the Iraqi people did on Jan. 30 would do more to ensure the furtherance of these goals, in concrete ways, than any other imaginable recipient this year. Who did more?

The history of the Peace Prize shows as well that Iraq’s voters placed themselves squarely at the center of one of the Nobel Committee’s enduring, seemingly quixotic, goals–peace in the Middle East.
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There are sufficient practical reasons to elevate Iraq’s voters in the eyes of the world. While eight million Iraqis stood against bombs to vote, millions sat in front of televisions in other nations, wishing for this opportunity. If it can happen in what was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, it may happen too in Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Iran. Imagine the effect on the Arab street if its inhabitants saw that Arabs can win a Nobel Peace Prize, and the world’s admiration, by casting votes as free men and free women.

Not least, terrorism–its arguments and its methods–was rebuked. This is the peace “process” rightly understood.

The Nobel Committee has never given the Prize to a nation. No matter. This is the new model for a new century: a whole nation choosing peace. Legitimize Iraq; others will want to follow. The Committee has another rule: Its deadline for nominees was Feb. 1. That makes this nomination a smidgen late. The Iraqi vote, however, was Jan. 30. The people of Iraq nominated themselves for the Nobel Peace Prize. There may be someone or something more deserving, but not in the world we live in.

I am all for it. Who is with me?

The Sandmonkey @ 8:22 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
The GAG test

Posted on Sunday 13 February 2005

If you are an adult and a supporter of standerized testing, well, the students who take those tests have made a test for you. In an effort to show you that they think that tests like the SAT are filled with useless information that do not affect their daily lives, the students decided to create a standarized test for adults that would test their knowledge of things that they may consider “useless information”, but that almost every young person knows. They named their test the GAG test.

The General Assessment of Grownups (a.k.a. GAG) Test is full of information the students figured just about every young person in the country should know. The teens who put together the quiz guessed that every young person should easily be able to answer multiple-choice questions like “What does LOL mean,” “Where is Eminem from,” and “Who is the main star in ‘Mean Girls.’”

You think you are hip? Huh, do ya?

Prove it!

TAKE THE TEST!

The Sandmonkey @ 8:16 am
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The destruction of the egyptian opposition

Posted on Sunday 13 February 2005

A while ago i put a post up that discussed the state of opposition parties in egypt, and why the public is so apathetic towards them. Most of them don’t have a vision, or a plan of their own for the country, and most of the party heads have stayed party heads for almost as long as Mubarak has stayed in power. That very much suits the people in power because as long as there is no viable opposition to them but the islamists, they can claim to be the best choice out there to rule the country, or at least the lesser of two evils.

Unfortunately, this all changed when Hezb-elghad (The Party of tomorow) was established.

The party is a capitalistic, pro -US, liberterian party that had both muslims and christians in leadership position and that emerged as the biggest and main party of opposition to the ruling sociliatic National Democratic party. Ever since they started calling for political reforms and the curbing of the president powers, they started becoming the target of all the powers that be and their cronies and for good reason: They make them look bad.

Now, i know how i wrote here that the arrest of the party leader Ayman Nur was just a distraction tactic used by the people in power, and i stick to that opinion, but something else might also be at work here. It actually seems that the people in power are actually really scared of that new party, and the efect that it may cause.

Here is what i mean: Egyptians are protesting the fact that Mubarak is running for a second term out in the open; every taxi driver i spoke to has told me how they are really angry that they arrested Nur and how the man is really a good man that didn’t deserve this. Add to that the anouncment by the egyptian Atorney General in the newspapers that assured everyone that Nur’s arrest is for criminal investigation purposes and warned anyone who tries to “insinuate otherwise” and the arrest of Moussa Mustafa Moussa, deputy head of el Ghad party and you have yourself facing the reality that they are trying their hardest to destroy that party because it really really scares them.

Some people will ask, why would the egyptian government be scared of that party? They are in power, they control the armed forces and the press. What could they possibly fear from one little party that has only 5 seats in the egyptian parliment? What’s really at stake here?

Ehh.. their legitimacy?

Bare with me on this. The egyptian government was able to get washington support for years by claiming to be the lesser of two evils. That there is not a single legitimate opposition except the islamist and “you know you don’t want them in power”, they would always leer. But now, you have not only an opposition party with a clear mandate, but one that is more pro- US and democracy then the NDP. A party that washington would have no problem or moral dilemmas backing, which isn’t the case with the current ruling party. Without Washington’s support and their yearly aid bail money, the egyptian government would find itself on very shaky ground and they may become seriously pressured to commit to actual reforms the same way the Saudis are. Without Washington’s backing, everyone would “all of a sudden” recognize that the current egyptian government is an illegitimate tyrannical outpost, and that’s not a good thing to be these days. They can’t afford that. So, in their eyes, it’s better to tear the newly born threat to shreds before it gains momentum using bullshit accusations, then have that party grow and challange the ruling party in elections, which they know they would lose if they are legitimate.

I am just saying…

The Sandmonkey @ 7:39 am
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John Edwards isn’t going away!

Posted on Saturday 12 February 2005

John Edwards, a.k.a Clinton 2.0, cutie pie, and John Kerry’s Boobjob, apparently isn’t ok with just fading away from the public eye the way politicians who lose usualy do. Gotta give the man credit, he lost the Democratic party nomination, he lost his senate seat and he lost the coveted “vice president” of John Kerry job when the latter blew the presidential elections. The man is a triple time loser in a single year and he is therefore naturally being hailed as one of the potential democratic candidates for President in 08. Cause, you know, the democrats, they always know how to pick a winner.

So what is he and the wifey planning on doing you may wonder:

Sometime in the next few months, they’ll put their house in Washington on the market. Come spring, when school lets out, they’ll move back to North Carolina, where he has taken a position as director of the new Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He and his wife met there, 30 years ago, in their first year of law school. As he explains it, the center will study ways to lift people out of poverty.

Finding more way to sue rich people, of course, will be on top of that list!

The Edwardses have already bought some land out in the country there, where they are looking to build a new house. The kids will attend public school nearby. He’ll also be burnishing his foreign-policy credentials, apparently, though he won’t spell out how. (Some think-tank thing? “No, more like a commission thing.”) Clearly, he’d like to preserve the option of running for president again in four years. But he is not being coy when he says he can’t focus on that at the moment.

Ok, what does he mean by “a commission thing”? Does anyone know? I am curious.

Asked what lessons could be drawn from the ’04 campaign, he says that if others want to spend time mulling them, “they’re welcome to do that, but it’s not what I’m going to do.”

Good for him. Can’t wait for him to run again in 08 with that attitude. Would rather him then Hillary, you know? Altough, to be fair, i would rather almost anyone then Hillary.

The Sandmonkey @ 4:35 am
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Saudi election update

Posted on Saturday 12 February 2005

Islamic clerics have triumphed in the Riyadh area in Saudi Arabia’s first regular elections, an election observer said Friday.

Okay, everyone. Let’s do it all together on 3 . Ok? Let’s go:

1

2

3

Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Well, at least they are having elections now , right?

sigh

The Sandmonkey @ 4:29 am
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Clinton UN plans?

Posted on Saturday 12 February 2005

Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan scheming together against GW Bush? The Freedom Alliance people seem to think so:

“Kofi Annan’s appointment of former President Bill Clinton has less to do with Mr. Annan’s desire to help the Asian people ravaged by December’s tsunami and more to do with politics. Mr. Annan has consistently tried to find outspoken and high profile U.S. critics of the Bush administration and put them in positions where they will have access to microphones. In Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan has landed his whale,” says Tom Kilgannon, President of Freedom Alliance.

What’s in it for Clinton , you may ask?

“While Kofi Annan gets the most visible, vocal critic of the United States, Bill Clinton gets a chance to audition for the world for the role of Secretary-General when Kofi Annan steps down in 2006.

Ok, why is it that i can so see that happening with Clinton? The man is adored by the rest of the world as the best american president according to non-americans. I could also see Clinton going for it in order to establish some sort of legacy, u know, the same thing Jimmy Carter has been doing for the past 25 years. Honestly now, who would be more perfect to head a corrupt, big government body of appeasers then Bill Clinton? It’s his destiny man.

Not to mention, can you imagine if Hillary becomes President as she seems to be planning and then has a problem with the UN over something? Ha! Now the back and forth press releases would just be classic, don’t you think? Sure, a little nightmarish, but classic nonetheless.

The Sandmonkey @ 4:16 am
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More on Ward Churchil

Posted on Saturday 12 February 2005

Dahlia Lithwick wrote an “interesting” article on Nutty Professor Ward Churchil that argues that while Ward churchil may be an idiot, he shouldn’t be fired for that reason, but rather the people who hired him should be!

Churchill may be fired from his faculty position at the University of Colorado for having written and spoken some of the most moronic nonsense ever to emanate from the mouth of an alleged academic. But he shouldn’t be punished for being a hack. The folks who hired him should.

Her argument basically is that even though he is a hack, a fake native american, a tenured professor who only has a masters degree and a mornon, he shouldn’t be fired. Instead, the people who hired him and who let him stay as the head of a department in a University should be fired instead. She then goes off on a tangent on how we shouldn’t fire people for exercising free speech and that what he said doesn’t qualify as hate speech:

Churchill’s 9/11 comments were patently offensive. But they were not hate speech, they were not treason, and they were not in any sense a call to imminent violence on the part of his listeners. Read in context, his words are the purest form of political speech. Does that mean students have to take his classes? No. Does it mean any university needs to invite him to speak or even hire him in the first place? No. But does it mean that the governor or the board of regents are entitled to remove him now, simply because some “taxpayer money” goes to pay his salary? No. That would make virtually every professorship in the land subject to a heckler’s veto.

Now, here is where i start explaining why Dahlia is an idiot, even though she means well. I agree with her that the people who hired him should get fired, but i believe he should be too. Her article is titled “stupidity as a firing offense” and for some reason she doesn’t think that being stupid isn’t a good enough reason for someone to get fired. Hmm. See, this is kind of weird, because in the real world, that’s like, one of the biggest reasons why people do get fired. And this goes double for college professors, who are supposed to be some of the smartest people around to get the jobs they get. you know, with the whole influencing young people thing and all.

So let’s argue for free-speech and say that the man shouldn’t get fired for his comments. Ok, fine. But he should get fired for being a hack. If anything this has shed some serious light on that guy and to have someone that is not only a tenured professor, but also the head of a department, on nothing more but a masters degree and a bunch of published books, well, it doesn’t say much for the educational standards that the University of Colorado has. And while we are at it, if the people of colorado want the guy fired, he should be fired. They pay for his salary.

And you would think that would make him a little more respectful towards the americans that support his livelihood. But, see, as long as that man gets a “hero’s welcome” at the University of Colorado where he deliverd a speech in which he said: “I’m not backing up an inch. I owe no one an apology”, well, he will continue propogating the idea that he is a victim and a free speech hero. But then again, it seems like he isn’t only getting support from his students, but also from University officials, who also happen to be paid by Colorado’s taxpayer dollars.

Outside the ballroom, about 250 people who were turned away listened to Churchill’s speech on speakers set up by university officials.

The crowd was loud and orderly as Churchill, whose writings and speeches face a 30-day university review that could lead to his dismissal, spoke: “I do not work for the taxpayers of the state of Colorado. I do not work for (Gov.) Bill Owens. I work for you,” he said to thunderous applause.

Well, let’s hope he does get dismissed. i am all for him working for the people who applaud him as long as he doesn’t get paid with money from people that he hates, despises and has no problem with them dead. The fact that this man has american supporters boggles my mind. But whatever, people like him will always exist and he will find a way to still make money from the incident even if he does get fired.Who knows, with his kind of rhetoric, he might become a TV pundit at Al Manar TV channel. He would feel very much at home there, ya know?

The Sandmonkey @ 3:35 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
Loophole in Airport security!

Posted on Tuesday 8 February 2005

Slate has a very interesting article on Airport security and how there is this huge loophole that would make the “No-Fly” list, well, kinda useless against stopping suspected terrorists of boarding US planes.

Here is how they use the “NO-FLY” list now:

1) Right before you go through security, a security guard checks your boarding pass against your government-issued ID, making sure the names match. This check does not include a scan of the barcode, in part because the same security checkpoints process passengers for multiple airlines with different computer systems. Occasionally a second security guard at the metal detector will double-check the boarding pass, but again, not by scanning it.

2) Once you get to your boarding gate, the barcode on the printed pass is finally scanned just before you enter the Jetway. However, as the boarding agents remind you over and over, you no longer need to show your ID at the gate. (The TSA estimates 80 percent of U.S. airports have done away with ID checks at the boarding gate.) I’ve noticed that many passengers still have their driver’s licenses or passports in hand as they approach, remembering post-9/11 enhanced security. But the agents cheerily tell them to put their IDs away—they’re no longer necessary.

Here is the flaw if you didn’t catch it:

Do you see the big flaw? At no point do you have to prove that the person in whose name the ticket was bought is the same person standing at the airport.

At stop 1), the name on a home-printed boarding pass is checked against an ID, but not against the name stored in the airline’s computer. At stop 2), the name on the printed pass is checked against the name in the computer, but not against an ID.

Now here is how the potential terrorist could use this to his/her advantage:

So all a terrorist needs to breeze through this loophole are two different boarding passes, both printed at home, that are identical except for the name. Check out the mock-up I made on Microsoft Publisher in about 10 minutes, using a real boarding pass I was issued last month. On the first one, you see my real name. On the second, the name has been replaced by that of Mr. Serious Threat, who we will pretend is on the No-Fly List.

Say Mr. Threat and his nefarious associates buy a ticket in someone else’s name (perhaps by stealing a credit card number—something criminals do without immediate detection all the time). In this case, the name of the card-theft victim (me) will be printed on the boarding pass. Mr. Threat can be pretty sure a common name like mine won’t trigger the No-Fly List as his would. Then he prints out the two boarding passes: the original in my name and an altered duplicate in his name.

At the first security checkpoint (the one where no scan takes place), he can breeze through using any name he wishes—even his own—just so long as his photo ID matches the altered boarding pass. Unless the security guard has the entire No-Fly List memorized, she isn’t going to stop Mr. Threat. On the way to his gate he does the old switcheroo, and produces the pass with my name, which will match the computer record. Child’s play. His real identity has never set off the computer’s alarm bells.

Now, the reason i am posting this, is because i get harassed by airport security every single time i’ve arrived/departed at a US airport ever since 9/11. And i am ok with that. The head of the Hijackers came from Egypt, arabic names sound alike, and at the end of the day its US airports, so the US could do whatever the hell it wants to keep its flights safe. I understand that and i don’t mind it cause i know i have done nothing wrong. But if i have to go through all that and some freakin terrorist manages to sashay his ass past security because of this stupid loophole, well, then excuse me if i am a lil pissed off that my time is getting wasted by procedures that aim to make you feel safe instead of actually protecting you.

I agree with the Author of the piece that the No-Fly list is kinda stupid and pointless, but it is there and it gets used. Since this is the case, make sure that the people who are using it use it correctly. I don’t know how you would do it, but talk to someone in the FAA, or your airport’s managment or even write your congressmen or senator or something. But have them fix the system and protect you, before it’s too late again.

The Sandmonkey @ 4:23 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
Bill Clinton..blogging?

Posted on Tuesday 8 February 2005

Ladies and gentlemen, i seem to have stumbeld upon Bill Clinton’s blog.

This may be a joke or fake, but it sure sounds like Ole Willy. So go check it out if you wanna see what he thinks of the current President Bush(“HE IS GOOD“) or hear him rant about how his future son-in-law pisses him off ( he wore sweatpants when he visited Bill& Hillary) or that impromptu jam session he had with Bono and Tony Blair in Tony Blair’s suite in Europe! I found it to be incredibly amusing, even if there is a big chance of it being a hoax.

The Sandmonkey @ 4:13 am
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Michael Moore sued for using Bin Ladin Footage

Posted on Monday 7 February 2005

Keeping up with our Bin Ladin theme today, here is some news that is bound to bring a smile to your face: Michael Moore is being sued by a Bin Ladin “former” close associate.

A FORMER close associate of Osama Bin Laden is to sue the film-maker Michael Moore for using his footage of the Al-Qaeda chief in the documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.

Essam Deraz, an Egyptian, spent almost four years in Afghanistan filming Bin Laden at training camps and fighting, gaining unprecedented access to the terrorist leader.

He was the only person to film Bin Laden during the late 1980s and has the only footage of the Saudi exile in battle in Afghanistan.

Deraz has started legal action in Egypt and America to seek compensation for use of his footage in Fahrenheit 9/11, the biggest-grossing documentary in cinema history.

Deraz claims he had not signed a distribution agreement with Moore or anyone else. “I was the only cameraman with the Arabs. All of those shots of Bin Laden talking in the cave, talking into his walkie-talkie, they were all my work.

Hehe!

Whoever said that Fate doesn’t have an ironic sense of humor has no idea what they are talking about.

I think the man deserves at least 100 million dollars as compensation. After all, all that money that Fehrenheit 911 made at the box office has turned Michael Moore into one of those rich people he hates so much. He must be really veklempt about what to do with it. Well, there ya go Michael. Practice what you preach and give your money away. After all, you wouldn’t wanna be known to exploit non-rich people to make a buck now, do you mr. Nader voter?

What do you guys think?

The Sandmonkey @ 4:59 am
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Osama Bin Ladin Captured… on Toast

Posted on Monday 7 February 2005

From the people who brought you the vrigin Mary Cheese Sandwich, comes the Osama Bin Ladin Toast.

The resembelance is….eh…uncanny!

The Sandmonkey @ 4:55 am
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CHAMPS!

Posted on Sunday 6 February 2005

3rd time CHAMPS Baby, YEAH! Posted by Hello

GO PATS!
The Sandmonkey @ 11:37 pm
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Why Ayman Al Nur’s arrest is not important!

Posted on Sunday 6 February 2005

Okay, so I have been ignoring the Ayman Al Nur story for a while, not because it’s not relevant, but mainly because I think it to be kind of unimportant. And I will explain why I believe that is in a bit.

The Ayman Al Nur story goes like this: This is a guy who created a libertarian party(dubbed liberal by people who don’t know the difference) that basically called for less government and democratic elections and stuff. He is an MP, who was part of the ruling National Democratic party and then defected forming his own party Hizb Al –Ghad (Tomorrow’s Party). The law states that in order to create a new political party you need 50 signatures who must be submitted in the form of “power of attorney” documents. Nur was able to get more then 2000 initial signatures and 4 more MP’s joined his party making them by far the biggest opposition party to hold seats in parliament in Egypt. Anyway….

The charges are that the government just happened to find that 1,178 power of attorney documents he submitted are “forgeries” and therefore decided to “investigate” Ayman and dropped his political immunity faster then a girl’s panties on prom night. He was then taken into custody for initially 4days and now he will be held without bail for another 45 days “under investigation”. Mind you, this whole thing is bullshit because even if the documents were forged, they were given to him that way. How this is his fault no one knows. And even if you say it’s his fault, well, this whole thing has no merit anyway. He clearly had more then the 50 signatures you needed to create a party. But anyway..

Now, everyone is talking about it. The US state department issued a statement regarding him, Bush threw a hinted comment towards Egypt in the state of the Union and the NY Times wrote an Op-Ed piece on the topic. Even GM blogged about it, stating that he is “99% sure that political motives were behind his (Nur’s)arrest”. He is probably right, But it’s still not that important. Let me explain to you why that is.

In Egypt, the powers that be are aware that the majority of people really do not like them, because of the shitty job they are doing handeling this country. People have been talking that the under the surface of Egyptian society, there is a powder Keg that could go off any second and they are not wrong. So, the people in power realize that in order to continue their racket they need some sort of misdirection, so that the public wouldn’t focus on them too much. When the Israeli/Palestinian conflict stopped being enough, they started getting inventive, cause they need to make sure that every now and then people have something to talk about. A discussion of some sort, one that doesn’t have anything to do with Mubarak ruling Egypt.

In the past sometimes they would get lucky with scandals that would just happen, and sometime sthey need to make one happen. Like the “Satanists in Egypt” story in the mid 90′s, where they arrested about 50 boys and girls who liked rock and metal by accusing them that they are Satanists and they were charged with “disrespect for religion”. The evidence? Black T-shirts, leather jackets, tattoos and –I kid you not- Raiders caps. Remind me to tell you my story with that incident one day.

If you want a more recent example, there is the Saad El Din Ibrahim story. Does anyone remember that one either? The man was given funding by a european organization to investigate the fairness of Egyptian elections and he found out- surprise surprise- it wasn’t very fairly and properly conducted. They arrested him for more then 2 years, while accusing him of embezzlement and meddling with election documents. President Bush cut off emergency aid to Egypt until they released him, which of course, vilified the man in front of the Egyptian society. He was to blame because he rocked the boat and caused the US to flex its muscles on Egypt and it doesn’t matter how wrong or right he was, nothing justifies that in their eyes. But it kept Egyptians occupied for years, with people debating whether or not he should be released or punished for “defaming Egypt’s reputation”.

So, for me, Nur’s arrest is just another example of the misdirection tactic they employ. People are talking about Nur and wondering if he really did forge those documents. How if the US interferes they will discredit Nur and lionize Mubarak as the man who defies the evil Americans who want to control Egypt. People will worry about Nur and his health and his case, instead of Mubarak running for another 6 year term. Hell, it already worked on GM, he is for another 6 years of Mubarak as long as he allows for a better state of political discourse. Like he would ever allow that to truly happene and jeopardize his son’s chances of ruling after him.

Misdirection people. It occupies you with the symptoms instead of having you focus on the disease.

And people wonder why nothing ever improves around here!

The Sandmonkey @ 4:53 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
Why the hell not?

Posted on Sunday 6 February 2005

I took this from Kender. I figure i could use a couple of suggestions. Plus i am too swamped to do the political stuff(later on tonight, i hope, we will get back to that). But anyway, give this a try will ya?

First, recommend to me:
1. A movie:
2. A book:
3. A musical artist, song, or album:

B. I want everyone who reads this to ask me three questions, no more, no less. Ask me anything you want. Oh, and if you don’t want to write those suggestions of questions here in the comments section, then please e-mail them to me. I am game if you are!

C. Then, I want you to go to your blog, copy and paste this allowing your friends to ask you anything they want. (Optional)

The Sandmonkey @ 4:38 am
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Nutty Professor update

Posted on Thursday 3 February 2005

I mentioned here the story of the Nutty professor Churchil who stated that the 911 victims were not innocent and had it coming, not to mention likend them to Nazis. Apparently the educational liberal establishment decided to reward him by inviting him over to do a speech. Needless to say, the american alumni, students and persepctive students – not to mention the locals and your average enraged citizen- didn’t like the idea very much.

Over the last five days, tiny Hamilton College in upstate New York has been barraged with more than 6,000 e-mail messages full of fury, some threatening violence. Some donors have canceled pledges to an ambitious capital campaign. And prospective students have withdrawn applications or refused to enroll.

Then, on Monday night, a caller to the college threatened to bring a gun to campus.

*************
“Would he feel the same way about his own wife or child if they worked in the W.T.C. and were lost because they went to work that day,” wrote the spouse of a rescue-operations captain who was killed. “He should be banned on the grounds of slandering the victims of such a brutal terrorist attack.”

Ms. Stewart said she alone received 6,000 messages, describing them as “ranging from angry to profane, obscene, violent,” and asserted that Hamilton’s actions had been mischaracterized by many of the writers, as well as by Mr. O’Reilly.

The good news is: they canceld the speech. The bad news is, they claim to have done it for secuirty purposes. The school’s adminstration itself, while claiming to be “appaled” by the remarks, still had no problem paying him money and asking him to come over.

sigh…

The Sandmonkey @ 7:12 am
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Fair and impartial news

Posted on Thursday 3 February 2005

Check out this news article from AP (Associated Pinheads as Kat calls them). Is it just me, or is this more of an OP-ED piece on Bush’s STOU then actual news reporting?

Check out this part of the article:

Even in a policy-packed address like a State of the Union, nuances are lost and Wednesday’s speech was no exception.

Bush called Iraq “free and sovereign,” an arguably premature definition in light of the relentless violence from insurgents and the overwhelming presence of U.S. troops.

He also said Iraq was “a vital front on the war on terror” and Americans “are fighting terrorists in Iraq so we do not have to face them here at home.”

The terrorist link that the United States most worried about when it invaded Iraq — an alleged relationship with the al-Qaida network behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — came to little.

Close to home, Bush credited the No Child Left Behind law with improving school achievement and test scores, but many educators say they are struggling to meet the law’s requirements because of a lack of money and because some requirements are inflexible.

Yes, reporting the news without bias indeed!

The Sandmonkey @ 7:04 am
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