Oklahoma Teabagger arrested for Twittering death threats

An Oklahoma City man who announced on Twitter that he would turn an April 15 tax protest into a bloodbath was hit with a federal charge of making interstate threats last week, in what appears to be first criminal prosecution to stem from posts on the microblogging site.

Daniel Knight Hayden, 52, was arrested by FBI agents who identified him as the Twitter user CitizenQuasar. In a series of tweets beginning April 11, CitizenQuasar vowed to start a “war” against the government on the steps of the Oklahoma City Capitol building, the site of that city’s version of the national “Tea Party” protests promoted by the conservative-leaning Fox News.

START THE KILLING NOW! I am willing to be the FIRST DEATH!,” read a tweet at 8:01 PM that day. “After I am killed on the Capitol Steps, like a REAL man, the rest of you will REMEMBER ME!!!,” he added five minutes later. Then: “Send the cops around. I will cut their heads off the heads and throw the[m] on the State Capitol steps.”

Hayden’s MySpace page is a breathtaking gallery of right wing memes about the “New World Order,” gun control as Nazi fascism, and Barack Obama’s covert use of television hypnosis, among many others…

Hayden’s penultimate tweet at 12:49 AM on April 15 returned to the subject of his martyrdom. “Locked AND loaded for the Oklahoma State Capitol. Let’s see what happens.”

The FBI arrested him at his home later that day, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oklahoma City, which otherwise declined to comment on the case.

Is anyone surprised? I checked out the scraggly crowd who showed up for the local Teabagger demo. It was a mix of Posse Comitatus types along with those I refer to as professional True Locals, e.g., unless you can show 10 generations going back to Spanish Colonial days you shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

No doubt there were a few nutballs truly deserving the title.

The electronic cigarette: a cleaner, safer way to inhale nicotine?

Hon Lik used to light up first thing in the morning. He smoked between lectures at the university where he studied Oriental medicine, between bites at lunch, in the lab where he researched ginseng health products. He’d usually burn through two packs by dusk and smoke a third over dinner and drinks with colleagues.

One of the strangest gizmos to come out of China in recent years, Hon’s invention, the electronic cigarette, turns the adage “where there’s smoke there’s fire” on its head.

It doesn’t burn at all. Instead, it uses a small lithium battery that atomizes a liquid solution of nicotine. What you inhale looks like smoke, but it’s a vapor similar to stage fog. (Take that, smoke-free bars!) It even has a red light at the tip that lights up with each drag.

“It’s a much cleaner, safer way to inhale nicotine,” said Hon, blowing curlicues of e-smoke as he showed off the cigarette in his Beijing office. (He says he doesn’t smoke anymore, except for such demonstrations.)

Hon got his first patent on the e-cigarette in 2003 and introduced it to the Chinese market the next year….

This year, it’s planning a big push in the United States. A disposable e-cigarette called the Jazz ($24.95 for the equivalent of five packs) is due to hit 7-Elevens in the Dallas-Fort Worth area shortly. Many rival versions, all made in China, are making their way to the U.S., sold mostly over the Internet by small marketing firms….

Buyer beware.

On the other hand, I am somewhat bemused by countries barring these products until they are demonstrated to be safe… like traditional cigarettes, one supposes.

Italian cruise ship thwarts pirate attack


MSC Melody on a quieter day
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Capt Ciro Pinto said six pirates in a speedboat approached his Melody ship and opened fire, but then fled after security men fired in the air. He said his crew also sprayed water on the gunmen when they tried to climb aboard using a ladder.

No-one was hurt in Saturday’s incident. Some 1,500 people were on the vessel…

Capt Pinto told the BBC that the pirates tried to hijack his ship late on Saturday, about 290km north of Victoria in the Seychelles.

“One white small boat with six people on board approached the port side of the ship and started shooting.”

The captain said the pirates fired some 200 rounds of shots on the vessel. He said “our security started shooting in the air… and also we started spraying some water” to beat off the attackers.

Capt Pinto said the pirates were forced to give up after about five minutes of shooting and a high-speed chase.

I know all the experts [and insurance companies] say you should just roll over and surrender. Somehow, I don’t think a cruise ship with hundreds of passengers is likely to endure the same treatment by nutball pirates as an oil tanker.

Mexican Flu scaring public health officials worldwide


Mexican soldiers delivering masks for public distribution
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Countries planned quarantines, tightened rules on pork imports and tested airline passengers for fevers as global health officials tried Sunday to come up with uniform ways to battle a deadly strain of swine flu. Nations from New Zealand to France reported new suspected cases.

World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan held teleconferences with staff and flu experts around the world but stopped short of recommending specific measures to stop the disease, urging governments to step up their surveillance of suspicious outbreaks.

Governments including China, Russia and Taiwan began planning to put anyone with symptoms of the deadly virus under quarantine…

Some nations issued travel warnings for Mexico.

Chan called the outbreak a public health emergency of ”pandemic potential” because the virus can pass from human to human. Her agency was considering whether to issue nonbinding recommendations on travel and trade restrictions, and even border closures. It is up to governments to decide whether to follow the advice…

New Zealand said that 10 students who took a school trip to Mexico ”likely” had swine flu. Israel said a man who had recently visited Mexico had been hospitalized while authorities try to determine whether he had the disease. French Health Ministry officials said four possible cases of swine flu are currently under investigation, including a family of three in the northern Nord region and a woman in the Paris region. The four recently returned from Mexico. Tests on two separate cases of suspected swine flu proved negative, they said…

Mexico closed schools, museums, libraries and theaters in a bid to contain the outbreak after hundreds were sickened there. In the U.S., there have been at least 11 confirmed cases of swine flu in California, Texas and Kansas. Patients have ranged in age from 9 to over 50. At least two were hospitalized. All recovered or are recovering.

The WHO’s pandemic alert level is currently at to phase 3. I’m betting on phase 4 within the week. Phase 5 is what we get when the virus is confirmed in at least two countries in the same region.

Phase 6 would indicate a full-scale global pandemic. Which no one wants to see or experience.

Icelanders punish Conservatives at the polls


Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

It is a tale of light and dark — of a small but rugged country far from anywhere that has suffered as severely as any in the developed world at the hands of buccaneering free-marketeers, but which is now slowly digging itself out from the financial wreckage.

An important milestone was reached on Saturday, when the country’s voters went to the polls to elect a new government, three months after riotous street protests over the country’s banking collapse forced the country’s conservative-led administration from office.

With about a third of the final vote counted late Saturday, it seemed that the country’s leftist caretaking government would be formally voted into power, with the Social Democrats projected to gain 22 seats and their partners, the Left-Greens, appearing to gain 13 seats in the 63-seat Parliament. The conservative Independent Party, ousted after a wave of demonstrations in January, was projected to gain just 14 seats with less than 23 percent of the vote, down considerably from its total in 2007. Final results are to be announced later today.

The conservatives were one of the first governments anywhere to lose office because of the global financial crisis, and it seemed clear Saturday that voters in this country of 320,000 were imposing a further reckoning.

The Independent Party has been blamed for a perceived complicity in the banks’ accumulating unsustainable, multibillion debts, and their partnership with a group of freewheeling Icelandic entrepreneurs known as the “New Vikings…”

About the only thing the New Vikings didn’t do in their attempt to imitate American neocons – was declare war on the Faroe Islands.

I truly love Iceland, though it’s been many years since I’ve visited. The rugged and wild landscape is part and parcel of the national ethos of independence. Part of what brought them to boot the U.S. Air Force off the island-nation after decades.

I’ve Posted before about their new Prime Minister and the economic problems they had to overcome.

Hope they make it through to the other side, soon.

Exploitation rights to “Hand of God” rock offered on eBay

A man in northern Idaho says he has seen a massive hand of God in his life, and he is willing to share it with the highest bidder.

Paul Grayhek, 52, listed the rock formation he dubbed the “Hand of God Rock Wall” on the online auction Web site eBay. The highest bid was $250 early Sunday, with three days left to go in the auction…

However, the winning bidder on eBay should not start clearing out his backyard. Grayhek is not planning to part with the formation.

The buyer will “basically be buying the rights, complete and exclusive rights” to the rock, including literary and movie rights, according to Grayhek…

“People think I’m some holier-than-thou person trying to get rich. I’m not,” Grayhek said. “The purpose is to spread the story of God and eBay is just a vehicle.”

I’ve seen “vehicles” like this my whole life. The Pope rides in one. So, does Al Sharpton.

Pakistan Government fails to fight the Taliban


Taliban withdraws from Buner with latest “peace” agreement with Islamabad
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by agreement

Initially, Buner was a hard place for the Taliban to crack. When they attacked a police station in the valley district last year, the resistance was fearless. Local people picked up rifles, pistols and daggers, hunted down the militants and killed six of them.

But it was not to last. In short order this past week the Taliban captured Buner, a strategically vital district just 60 miles northwest of the capital, Islamabad. The militants flooded in by the hundreds, startling Pakistani and American officials with the speed of their advance…

The Taliban took over Buner through both force and guile — awakening sleeping sympathizers, leveraging political allies, pretending at peace talks and then crushing what was left of their opponents, according to the politicians and the residents interviewed.

Though some of the militants have since pulled back, they still command the high points of Buner and have fanned out to districts even closer to the capital.

That Buner fell should be no surprise, local people say. Last fall, the inspector general of police in North-West Frontier Province, Malik Naveed Khan, complained that his officers were being attacked and killed by the hundreds.

Mr. Khan was so desperate — and had been so thoroughly abandoned by the military and the government — that he was relying on citizen posses like the one that stood up to the Taliban last August.

Today, the hopes that those civilian militias inspired are gone, brushed away by the realization that Pakistanis can do little to stem the Taliban advance if their government and military will not help them.

RTFA. A wealth of detail, a dialectic that ranges from incompetence to collaboration – at all levels of the Pakistan government.

If this is not challenged by the powers that be, there will be an Islamist government – in a tribalist part of the world – armed with nuclear weapons.

With 27 apps per device, iPhone customers aren’t likely to wander

Just like the purchased .AAC music libraries that kept traditional iPod owners from straying to other MP3 players, the iPhone’s apps are likely to help Apple keep its touch device customers loyal to its products.

Apple announced the Billionth app downloaded this week and at the same time filed with the SEC that it had sold 37 million iPhones and iPod touches together. That means, on average, each device has around 27 downloaded apps. Some people haven’t installed any, while others have maxxed out their iPhone with 144 applications (soon to be 172 with OS3). Most of us are closer to the 27 in the middle.

That is an average two screens of Facebook, Amazon, Skype, NYTimes, WSJ and Google Earth for every iPod touch and iPhone out there.

More importantly, there have been a lot of paid applications that won’t go with users to the next smartphone platform. I say this as I contemplate moving to the Palm Pre or Android platforms next year (mostly just to escape AT&T, who charge way too much for substandard service)…

When the ZuneHD comes out later this year, it won’t likely woo many iPod touch owners who have a gaggle of games, utilities and other apps stuck on Apple’s platform. Conversely, when Apple releases its new touch products later this year, current touch product owners will be able to take their apps with them.

I’m in the same boat. Sort of.

As much as I have always enjoyed and supported Firefox, since I started enjoying the speed and performance of Safari – and it’s always been the best RSS aggregator around – I still keep Firefox in my Dock. I need a couple of those specialized add-ons to make life easier for one of the blogs I edit.

That blog was designed as Firefox-centric, especially a couple of unique add-ons.

Though, using two browsers ain’t as costly as owning two cellphones. 🙂

The secret is out. The new ingredient in Windows 7 is – Windows XP

Microsoft has finally revealed one of the “secret ingredients” in Windows 7, and it’s Windows XP SP3. This only applies to the Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions, and involves downloading the code from Microsoft’s web site.

XPM (for Mode) is based on Microsoft’s Virtual PC and includes a free copy of XP SP3. It provides a bit more functionality than simply installing your own copy of XP (if you have one that legally allows that) in Virtual PC, VMware or VirtualBox…

It will also be a big help even where companies don’t need XPM. They’ll be able to upgrade to the more secure and more capable Windows 7 with the confidence that they have a backwards-compatibility option if they run into an unforeseen snag…

It remains to be seen how well XPM runs on netbooks that don’t provide hardware assistance for virtualisation. But in any case, netbooks typically have too little processor power and not enough memory to make XPM attractive.

Uh, enjoy yourself, folks. Save it for some weekend self-flagellation sport.