Nutball militia says they’re just a social club that collected guns and bombs to defend themselves from government

A group of militia members arrested nearly two years ago in southern Michigan effectively operated as a “social club” that amassed guns and bombs to defend themselves, not to plot a war against the government, their lawyers said Monday at the start of a trial for seven of the defendants…

“David Stone was exercising his God-given right to blow off steam and open his mouth,” his lawyer, William W. Swor, told jurors.

But the federal authorities contend that the Hutaree (pronounced hu-TAR-ee) was on the brink of carrying out a plan to begin attacking police officers, possibly by killing one and then using improvised explosives to ambush mourners at the officer’s funeral…

Nine members of the Hutaree were arrested in March 2010, days after Mr. Stone declared, “It’s go hour,” in a voice mail to an undercover federal agent who had been training with the group, Mr. Graveline said. The seven now on trial are charged with seditious conspiracy, attempting to use weapons of mass destruction and various firearm charges. If convicted, they could be sentenced to life in prison

One of the nine arrested, Joshua Clough, pleaded guilty in December to a firearm charge that carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison. Another defendant, Jacob Ward, was ruled incompetent to stand trial and is undergoing treatment.

Mr. Graveline said the authorities have seized about 100 firearms, including some illegal short-barrel rifles and machine guns, and 148,000 rounds of ammunition from the defendants’ homes. He showed jurors one table covered with guns and held up other examples of evidence collected, including flak jackets, ghillie suits used to camouflage snipers, Kevlar helmets, night-vision goggles and bomb-making instructions…

Mr. Swor described Mr. Stone as a preacher’s son who was raised in an “apocalyptic tradition” and studied the Book of Revelation. Mr. Stone, who invented the name Hutaree because he thought it sounded like something from the “Star Wars” movies his sons liked, believed he needed to be able to defend his family from the Antichrist, Mr. Swor said.

It’s easy enough to dismiss fools like this as paranoid and deluded. Except for the fact that the arrests were initiated because the threat level to the lives of citizens and police seemed elevated and immediate.

The reality is that these murderous clowns aren’t any funnier than any other rightwing gang – from the KKK to posse comitatus militias – who have murdered innocent people for decades.

Hackers have been inside Nortel networks for 10 years!

Hackers based in China had “widespread access” to computer systems from Nortel Networks for almost 10 years, according to a Tuesday report from the Wall Street Journal.

The hack was carried out via seven stolen passwords that belonged to Nortel executives, the Journal said. Evidence suggests that the attacks originated in China and started in 2000. The cyberscammers managed to access “technical papers, research-and-development reports, business plans, employee emails and other documents,” thanks to installed spyware.

The Journal was made aware of the intrusions by Brian Shields, a former Nortel employee who led the investigation into the hacks…

As noted by security firm Sophos, Nortel changed the offending passwords, but didn’t do much beyond a rather fruitless, six-month investigation.

Sophos analyst Graham Cluley warned not to immediately point the finger at China, an easy target.

“It’s very hard to prove a Chinese involvement. Yes, the data might have been transmitted to an IP address based in Shanghai, but it is possible that a computer in Shanghai has been compromised by.. say.. a remote hacker in Belgium,” he wrote. “It’s all too easy to point a finger, but it’s dangerous to keep doing so without proof.”

Any serious geek – or principled journalist – knows that Graham Cluley is correct about determining where a hack originates. Not that the Wall Street Journal allows its writers who fit the first category to express the second. That is – not since Rupert bought the paper.

In any average 24-hour period, 15/25% of the traffic at is listed as from “Unknown” – which may or may not be China. And all that defines is the location of the last proxy server tracked back through the Web.

The serious question is what sort of Dumbos were running Nortel? Bad enough they waltzed around with passwords easy to crack – at the highest level of the company. They never did a thorough enough filtering of their system to deal with trojans left behind.

Why do Republicans hate women?

This post is a year old. Republicans haven’t gotten better. Their goals have retreated further into darkness and hatred.

Here is a list of misogynist bills introduced by Republicans in the past two weeks showing what they want for women.

1) Rape: Republicans are actually trying to redefine rape to exclude drugging a women and raping her, or getting her drunk and raping her. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven’t the language is still out there.

2) More Rape. A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to “accuser.” But victims of other crimes, like robbery, would remain “victims.” Apparently in Georgia if a women is raped, she isn’t really – is just an annoying accuser. Which means the rapist is not really a criminal.

3) Murder. In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder anyone who injures or threatens a fetus, including a doctor who provides abortion care and the mother. He denies it has anything to do with abortion so I guess it is aimed at makingit OK for a husband or boyfriend to kill his partner if he thinks she might injure the fetus- like in a car accident, or he just doesn’t like her anymore.

4) Starvation. Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids. But payments to corporations to not grow food to keep prices up is still in the budget.

5) Death. In Congress, Republicans have proposed a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life (so she and fetus die.)

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Overeating may double risk of memory loss

A reasonable alternative

New research suggests that consuming between 2,100 and 6,000 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people age 70 and older. The study…will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 21 to April 28, 2012. MCI is the stage between normal memory loss that comes with aging and early Alzheimer’s disease.

“We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means; the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI,” said study author Yonas E. Geda, MD, MSc, with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona…

The study involved 1,233 people between the ages of 70 and 89 and free of dementia residing in Olmsted County, Minn. Of those, 163 had MCI. Participants reported the amount of calories they ate or drank in a food questionnaire and were divided into three equal groups based on their daily caloric consumption. One-third of the participants consumed between 600 and 1,526 calories per day, one-third between 1,526 and 2,143 and one-third consumed between 2,143 and 6,000 calories per day.

The odds of having MCI more than doubled for those in the highest calorie-consuming group compared to those in the lowest calorie-consuming group. The results were the same after adjusting for history of stroke, diabetes, amount of education, and other factors that can affect risk of memory loss. There was no significant difference in risk for the middle group.

“Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age,” said Geda.

The sharpest commentary I’ve heard about this study — “they should adjust for the amount of time participants spent sitting on their butts watching American Idol and snacking”…

Police in Colombia are hard at work training bomb-sniffing rats

At a Colombian National Police base in the outskirts of Bogota, the nation’s capital, a new recruit is being trained.

This new recruit is unlike any other. It stands on four legs, has white hair all over its body and weighs slightly less than a pound. Its name is Rattus Norvegicus — but it’s more commonly known as a lab rat.

During a recent training session, trainers set the white rat on a patch of grass where they had hidden an explosive device underground. It took the rat less than a minute to find it. The rodent was showered with praise. Its trainers also gave it its favorite reward, a treat.

Though safer than a decade ago, Colombia is a country where landmines and car bombs are still a threat. Earlier this month, six people were killed by a car bomb targeting a police station in the town of Villa Rica in the southern province of El Cauca. The day before the February 2 bombing, nine people were killed and 70 were injured by another explosion in the neighboring province of Narino…

In the past, Colombian police used bomb-sniffing dogs; but the dogs’ weight would often trigger the explosives. That’s not a problem for lab rats that weigh slightly less than a pound.

And according to the trainers, their sense of smell is just as good as a dog’s…

Ramirez says that the only disadvantage he can think of about using rats is their short life span.

“These animals live only three to four years, which is a relatively short period of time from a human perspective. On the other hand, they’re very prolific. They reproduce themselves exponentially in a very short time,” Ramirez said.

So far, the rats have been trained to detect seven different kinds of explosives including ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, gunpowder and TNT…

Mendez also says the rats are much more cost-effective than their canine counterparts. “With the money it takes to feed a dog per day, you can feed seven rats for seven days,” Mendez said.

The money-savings alone is enough roll this project along. Nothing makes a bean-counter bureaucrat happier than saving a whole lot of 9’s. Having obedient rats instead of lovable dogs would be a plus, as well.

400-year-old witchcraft trial resumes in Germany

Katharina Henot, postmaster of Cologne and her brother

The trial of a woman burnt at the stake 400 years ago for witchcraft resumed in Germany on Monday in an effort to clear the woman’s name.

Katharina Henot suffered her fiery fate in Cologne in 1627 after being found guilty of practicing black magic. Arrested, and tortured to such an extent that the right-handed woman had to scrawl her last letter of defence with her left hand, she was eventually paraded through the city in an open cart before being tied to a stake and burnt.

Now the panel on the city council whose predecessors found her guilty of witchcraft hundreds of years ago will review the evidence. It is suspected that Henot, head of the city’s post office, fell foul of a deadly game of political intrigue orchestrated by her rivals and detractors.

The fact that Henot’s name has a chance of exoneration is due largely to the efforts of Hartmut Hegeler, an evangelical pastor and religious education teacher, who has championed the woman’s cause in Cologne…

Between 1500 and 1782 at least 25,000 Germans, mostly women but also some men and children, were executed for witchcraft. Many were made scapegoats for natural disasters or faced accusations because of personal vendettas or just because they failed to fit in with the people around them.

In one of the most infamous cases, a three-month burst of bloodletting in the small town of Oberkirchen in 1630 claimed the lives of 58, including those of two children, as accusations of witchcraft spread like wildfire.

Be of good cheer – if you miss the good old days.

If my fellow Americans elect someone as looney as Rick Santorum, he’ll have the Inquisition back up and running in a matter of days.