Latest war gadget – a robot snake

A robot snake with a camera and microphone in its head is the Israeli military’s latest battlefield weapon, according to an Israeli TV report broadcast this week.

Channel 2 showed video of the snake twisting into caves, tunnels, cracks and buildings, broadcasting pictures and sound back to a soldier controlling it with a laptop computer.

The “snake” appeared to be about two metres long.

Covered by fabric in military camouflage colours, it slithered along the ground and climbed rocks, its segments connected with joints that flexed in several different directions…

The report said no price has been determined for the snake, which is in the experimental stage, but the Israeli military plans to deploy the robot with combat units. No target date was given.

The report suggested another role for the robot – carrying a bomb to blow up militants or a building. In that case, Channel 2 said, it would be a “suicide snake.”

I want one of these. My wife and I are snake fans as it is – especially gopher snakes. If you’ve ever tried to garden somewhere that has pocket gophers you know why.

Arm one of these critters with a custom .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol – not really a difficult task – and “Bingo” – you can hunt pocket gophers underground.

White supremacist opens fire inside Holocaust Museum

An elderly gunman opened fire inside the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday, wounding a security guard before two other guards returned fire. The assailant and his victim were both hospitalized.

The extent of the injuries was not immediately known, U.S. Park Police Sgt. David Schlosser said.

Nor did authorities immediately provide the name or any other biographical information about the assailant, who they said used a “long gun” in the shooting.

He’s an activist racist and anti-semite named James Von Brunn.

The episode unfolded inside the museum, which maintains a heavy security presence, with guards positioned inside and out. All visitors are required to pass through metal detectors at the entrance, and bags are screened.

It was not immediately known whether the gunman made it through the detectors before opening fire.

The museum, across the street from the National Mall, and within sight of the Washington Monument, was closed for the day after the shooting. Nearby streets were cordoned off by police.

In a statement, museum spokesman Andrew Hollinger said an assailant shot a museum security officer and “two museum security officers returned fire, hitting the assailant.”

This nutball gun thug believes in a “Negro and Jewish conspiracy” for every occasion.

Sad news to report. The security guard who confronted this Nazi at the entrance – has died in hospital.

Microsoft sets a new record for Patch Tuesday


What – me worry?
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Microsoft released 10 updates to various versions of Windows, components of Microsoft Office, and a cumulative update to Internet Explorer on Patch Tuesday. The company patched a total of 31 vulnerabilities in the update, with some being highly exploitable.

The most serious one is the update for Internet Explorer, MS09-019: Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer. This update addresses a critical vulnerability on every client version of Windows. 8 separate vulnerabilities are patched in this update, including one which was publicly disclosed in 2007. While this very old vulnerability has been public knowledge for some time, there are no known reports of exploit code and Microsoft’s exploitability index states that functioning exploit code for it is unlikely…

There are 6 updates for Microsoft Windows

Finally, a vulnerability in Microsoft Excel, MS09-021: Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office Excel Could Allow Remote Code Execution, is rated critical for Excel 2000 and important for a wide variety of Excel products including the Mac versions, the file viewers, file compatibility packs and the Sharepoint Server. 7 separate vulnerabilities are patched, 6 of them critical on Excel 2000. 4 of these are likely to produce functioning exploit code for remote code execution, but the rating is only critical on Excel 2000 because of mitigating factors in later versions.

RTFA. Grab the details. Phew!

London coppers accused of waterboarding

Six Metropolitan Police officers have been suspended over allegations of subjecting suspects to “waterboarding” – the CIA interrogation technique that simulates the experience of drowning – during a drugs raid in north London last November.

The claims are part of a leaked inquiry into alleged institutional corruption among officers in Enfield, which also includes accusations that police evidence was fabricated and suspects’ property stolen. Senior police officers are most concerned by the claim that officers used the interrogation technique on four suspects during a raid on a series of properties in north London. They are understood to have pushed the suspects’ heads into buckets of water in a bid to force them to reveal the locations of drugs…

The claims come at a time when Scotland Yard is investigating claims of waterboarding allegations made against MI5 by the British national former Guatanamo Bay detainee, Binyam Mohamed. It will also reignite public debate about police conduct that was ignited in wake of the hundreds of public complaints during the G20 protests.

Scotland Yard has referred the case of police brutality to the Independent Police Complaints Commission which is in the process of an “ongoing” investigation. In February, Scotland Yard said 10 police officers from the crime squad in Enfield were suspended and another two had been placed on restricted duties after an anti-corruption probe into the alleged mishandling of property. Eight – including the six as well as a detective sergeant – remain suspended and two remain on restricted duties.

It’s easy to joke about the link between fascist-minded thugs like Dick Cheney and official corruption – in this case inside the London Metropolitan Police. More relevant is understanding how one follows on from the other. Corruption, cronyism, manufacturing evidence to use against those who officialdom presumes to be guilty.

It’s just the little crooks imitating the big crooks.

George Soros featured at several economic forums in China


Ma Yun and George Soros in Hangzhou

Financier George Soros said this week that China’s global influence is set to grow faster than most people expect, with its isolation from the global financial system and a heavy state role in banking aiding a relatively swift economic recovery.

He reiterated his cautious views regarding the surge in global stock markets, although he said it may have further to go given liquidity in the markets and that many investors are still sitting on the sidelines.

“In many ways, Chinese banking has benefited from being isolated from the rest of the world and is in better shape than the international banking system,” he told an audience at Shanghai’s Fudan University.

China’s extensive capital controls have helped to shield its financial institutions from the worst of the global financial crisis.

“The influence of the state is also greater. So when the government says ‘lend’, banks lend,” Soros added. “This puts China in a better position to recover from the recession and that is in fact what has happened…”

“China is going to be a positive force in the world and the market, and as a consequence, its power and influence are likely to grow. Personally, I believe it’s going to grow faster than most people currently expect,” Soros said…

He also noted that China’s aggressive $586 billion economic stimulus programme, announced last year, had bolstered the economy.

“If that programme proves inadequate, it is in a position to apply additional stimulus. China is also in a position to foster a revival of its exports by extending credit and investing abroad,” he said.

A fair piece of my retirement investments are in China. Plus a little bit of “fooling around and making believe I know what I’m doing” money.

The latter is doing better than the former. Maybe I should listen to myself more often.