Profiling doesn’t work any better in Libya than in New Jersey

Nicholas Davies-Jones and Gareth Montgomery-Johnson, who were working for Iran’s English-language Press TV, were detained on Feb 22 by the Swehli brigade, one of the dozens of militias which last year helped force out Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Earlier this month, the Swehli militia said the Britons, initially detained for illegal entry into Libya, were suspected of spying. They were transferred to the custody of the government last week however.

Speaking on BBC 5Live following their release, Mr Montgomery-Johnson said: “We’re pleased to be back with our own families because they’ve been through a similar ordeal. While we were there we were given no information at all. Now we’re overwhelmed and thankful.”

They said five days after they had been taken, the militia had gone to their hotel to find footage and began looking through equipment and the archive material.

“My father, who’s a nurse, had given me some bandages in case we got into trouble. Some had Welsh written on and they thought this was Hebrew and we were Israeli spies,” he said…

This would be hilarious if these poor buggers hadn’t been in danger of losing their lives.

Silly PR stunt causes bomb scare kerfuffle

Convar Deutschland thought they had cooked up an exciting way to attract new clients, when they began gluing hard drives to alarm clocks and sending them to companies with a note reading, “Your time is running out.”

They sent out a total of 40 “time bombs” to businesses, shops, a handful of embassies and even the offices of a newspaper group.

But instead of drumming up custom, the stunt caused mayhem as terrified recipients called the police and prompted building evacuations, Berlin paper Tagesspiegel reported on Friday.

In what was perhaps an overestimation on Convar’s behalf about how well known they were, the Rhineland-Palatinate company thought that the idea would be perfect for promoting their speciality – data recovery. They hadn’t reckoned with panic that ensued, which saw police units being called to suspected letter bombs in cities across the country including Bonn, Berlin and Frankfurt…

The offices of regional paper Express were evacuated in Bonn, leaving 230 employees standing around on the street while bomb disposal experts examined the parcel.

“To raise awareness of the dangers of losing data, we sent a comic-book style alarm clock to symbolise the fact that time is running out on data safety,” the company said in a statement. “At absolutely no point did we mean to threaten, or injure, anyone.”

Providing instant employment for forty lawyers.

Thanks, Ursarodina

Borg-like patent of the day

Not content with making smartphones that simply vibrate, Nokia is looking at tattoos with magnetic ink to alert you to incoming phone calls.

Discovered by Unwired View, Nokia’s Haptic Communication patent describes an electronic device, probably your smartphone, that generates a magnetic field that stimulates ferromagnetic ink that’s been stamped, tattooed, or taped to skin. The ink’s reaction creates perceivable stimuli that responds to digital content on the smartphone.

Translation: Notifications on a smartphone will trigger a vibration in the magnetic ink attached to your body. A text could trigger a specific vibration pattern, while a voicemail could trigger another…

While the patent frequently uses the term tattoo, it’s unlikely most Nokia users would get inked just so their latest Nokia smartphone could announce the arrival of a text message…

OTOH, I can think of gamers and nerds who would love this sort of intimate communications.

And speaking of intimate communications, I would think that picking the perfect spot on your body for a vibrating tattoo could make long dull meetings tolerable. If you don’t fall off your chair.

All of Mexico’s highly-enriched uranium removed to United States

Rachel Maddow reports exclusively the breaking news that all of Mexico’s highly enriched uranium has been removed to the United States, and talks with Sarah Dickerson, National Nuclear Security Administration threat reduction director, and Anthony Wayne, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, about the distribution of nuclear material around the world by the U.S. and how the deal was made with Mexico to take their nuclear material off their hands.

That’s the intro to several videos released last night as a special on MSNBC. About a month ago Rachel Maddow traveled with NSA specialists supervising the removal of highly-enriched uranium from Mexico’s research reactors – to be brought back to the United States. The program was interesting in more than one way.

Regulars here know that one function of this, my personal blog, is to offer for reflection some of the few remaining bits and pieces of professional journalism I can find. It’s a diminishing skill for a number of reasons – the biggest being the transformation of “news” into “entertainment”.

Rachel Maddow is part of an even smaller percentage of journalists who carries job skills from print to video. As a news junkie I watch a lot more news than most. I watch news programs and explode often over incompetent journalists who haven’t yet learned to ask leading questions – instead of stupid questions.

For this reason, I suggest you watch the linked videos available at the MSNBC site, Rachel’s Maddow’s blog. She and they may someday release these to easier access on YouTube or somewhere. Not yet. So, I’m not going to jump through all the technical hoops needed today – to host this at this site. But, I highly recommend watching, learning, thinking about the questioning both casual and critical. We don’t get very much of this.

Click on the photo to go to the video site. After the bloody commercial and the intro segment, I’d suggest watching the videos in sequence. There’s a menu on the left side of the screen.

Settlers steal Palestinian water – after stealing Palestinian land


Israeli sentry at one of the springs
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Jewish settlers have seized dozens of natural springs in the occupied West Bank, barring Palestinians or limiting their access to scarce water sources…

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it had surveyed 530 springs in the West Bank and found that 30, mostly in areas where Israel retains military control, were taken over by the settlers. It added that Palestinians currently had limited access to 26 other springs where settlers had moved in and threatened to take control. The report said settlers had not encroached on 474 remaining springs surveyed.

“Springs have remained the single largest water source for irrigation and a significant source for watering livestock,” the report said, adding that some also provided water for domestic consumption in areas not connected to pipelines. “The loss of access to springs and adjacent land reduced the income of affected farmers, who either stop cultivating the land or face a reduction in the productivity of their crops,” the report said…

“Settlers have developed 40 springs as tourist sites, deployed picnic tables and benches and given them Hebrew names … It is generating employment and revenue for the settlements and it is a way of promoting or advertising settlements as a fun place,” OCHA researcher Yehezkel Lein said.

A fun place if you are thief.

In 2009 a spring named Ein el Qaws, located near the village of Nabi Saleh, was taken over by settlers from Halamish, forcing villagers to obtain their irrigation water from other sources, the report and residents said.

“The spring was used to irrigate hundreds of olive and fruit trees in the village and the children used to swim in it, now if we try to go to the spring, the settlers and soldiers come and kick us out,” said villager Nariman Tamimi.

A spokesman for Israel’s military-run Civil Administration in the West Bank said…blah, blah, blah, blah.

Israel…says the status of settlements should be decided in peace negotiations.

Except that Israel – with the support of Congress and the White House – hasn’t negotiated anything in good faith for decades. No one seriously expects them to start any time soon.

Recording the sound of some of the planet’s quietest creatures


 
As the Bang Goes The Theory team investigates some of the noise of modern life, they also find time to measure the sounds of some of the quieter creatures on the planet.

In a sound-proofed room, Jem Stansfield listens in on an experiment to try and catch the sounds of a maggot, snail and the footsteps of a centipede.

Like the sound of one hand clapping – and I won’t even try a political allusion.