HEMP: A Threat Assessment

Another report from the ever-lovin’ Congressional Research Service, this one formerly classified and only recently prised from the grip of the Bush Administration:

“High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and High Power Microwave (HPM) Devices: Threat Assessments” (PDF)
Congressional Research Service, as updated March 26, 2008

“Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is an instantaneous, intense energy field that can overload or disrupt at a distance numerous electrical systems and high technology microcircuits, which are especially sensitive to power surges. A large scale EMP effect can be produced by a single nuclear explosion detonated high in the atmosphere. This method is referred to as High-Altitude EMP (HEMP). A similar, smaller-scale EMP effect can be created using non-nuclear devices with powerful batteries or reactive chemicals. This method is called High Power Microwave (HPM). Several nations, including reported sponsors of terrorism, may currently have a capability to use EMP as a weapon for cyber warfare or cyber terrorism to disrupt communications and other parts of the U.S. critical infrastructure. Also, some equipment and weapons used by the U.S. military may be vulnerable to the effects of EMP.

“…In the past, the threat of mutually assured destruction provided a lasting deterrent against the exchange of multiple high-yield nuclear warheads. However, now even a single, specially designed low-yield nuclear explosion high above the United States, or over a battlefield, can produce a large-scale EMP effect that could result in a widespread loss of electronics, but no direct fatalities, and may not necessarily evoke a large nuclear retaliatory strike by the U.S. military. This, coupled with the possible vulnerability of U.S. commercial electronics and U.S. military battlefield equipment to the effects of EMP, may create a new incentive for other countries to develop or acquire a nuclear capability.”

Joint Intelligence DNA Database

The Joint Federal Agencies (or more often: Antiterrorism) Intelligence DNA Database (JFAIDD) is described in a 2007 briefing slide as “a searchable database of DNA profiles from detainees and known or suspected terrorists.”

The JFAIDD contains 15,000 DNA profiles, according to a 2007 report of the Defense Science Board, with “a queue of 30,000 new samples in the laboratory and 400 [pending] requests for DNA profiles, searches, or comparisons.”  See “Defense Biometrics” (pdf, at page 32).

…But “The FBI can process [only] two samples every three days using manual methods.  Given this rate, the DNA Analysis Unit… cannot keep up with the collection of these samples.”

The Justice Department therefore requested funding to automate the DNA analysis process, to permit analysis of 40 samples a day, five days a week so as to keep pace with the anticipated delivery of “approximately 9,000 samples per year from detainees of the U.S. government.”

More, including related documents and slides, at Secrecy News.

(Anybody else besides me suddenly reminded of John Poindexter’s secret little Total Information Awareness program?)

Al “Fingers” Capone

Mugshot of Al CaponeOf all the wonders and horrors of the Al Capone legend, I’ll bet you didn’t know that he once played banjo in a band with Machine Gun Kelly.

In late 1934, convict Capone was transferred from the federal prison in Atlanta to Alcatraz, the toughest prison in the country. As recounted by Gus Russo in his fine book, The Outfit (Bloomsbury, 2001):

After a year of begging, Capone persuaded the warden to allow him twenty minutes a day to form a band with other prisoners. Al had his family send him top of the line banjos, mandolins, and music charts and he succeeded in teaching himself some rudimentary songs. On drums was “Machine Gun” Kelly, while sax chores were handled by kidnapper Harmon Whaley. The ensemble was disbanded after a violent row erupted during a rehearsal.

According to legend, the sound of a ghostly banjo can still sometimes be heard wafting from Capone’s old cell.  If you want, you can visit Alcatraz today and perhaps shake a shank to some spectral hot jazz.

British Filmmakers Who Met on the Square

The always worthwhile blog The Bioscope recently posted about The Amina Lodge, “a British freemasonry lodge for those in the film business” which was established in 1912 and lasted, it seems, until at least 1962. Needless to say, this is unexplored history.

The post sports an extensive list of members (founding and subscribing), a number of whom were some of the biggest names in early British cinema, including no less than American transplant Charles Urban (whose unfinished memoirs, A Yank in Britain, are available from bookseller The Projection Box in the UK — said bookseller’s catalog you are commended to explore at length forthwith, crappy exchange rate notwithstanding.)

Those with any additional information — or interested access to the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London — are encouraged to communicate.

Glowing Seafood? FDA Doesn’t Give a Crap.

The article below just appeared on the front page of the Seattle P-I. According to multiple accounts, shrimp, crab, and fish being sold in groceries in the Seattle area actually glows in the dark. Does the FDA care? Hell no. Count on the Bush FDA to keep us safe from rogue bio-engineered mutants or possibly “nukuler” radiated food…not. They won’t even let their scientists comment on the subject, which is about what you’d expect from the cronyist “free market” retards.

Also so very reassuring is the fact the dumb-asses at Washington Poison Center “wouldn’t hesitate” to eat GLOWING FISH AND SHRIMP. According to this article, even cats know better than the idiots charged with “protecting” our food supply. What the hell?!?

Possibly worst of all, the story is being treated as a mildly humorous human interest piece! I can only conclude that Ming the Merciless on Planet Mongo has unleashed the StupidAssRetardifier Ray on humanity while I was resting in my handy lead box. I can see where this is leading, so please shoot me in the face when Paris Hilton is floated as a viable candidate for President, won’t you?

(And, alas, count on the P-I to be lame enough to actually lose the domain name seattlepi.com to bottom-feeding cybersquatters after owning it for more than a decade. Sigh.)

Glow-in-the-dark shrimp — it’s all a little fishy
Luminescent crustaceans bought in Seattle stores; FDA won’t investigate

By Andrew Schneider
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Thursday, October 25, 2007

It sounds like a Halloween joke. A pile of brightly glowing cooked shrimp sitting on the counter in a darkened kitchen.

But Randall Peters doesn’t see the humor in it. He bought the shrimp last week from the West Seattle Thriftway. He ate some that evening and returned to the kitchen a few minutes later.

“It was like a bright eerie light was shining on it,” said Peters, who works for a natural food store.

“I thought that maybe it had been overirradiated, you know, too much radiation. Now, whenever I buy seafood, I take it home and turn out the lights.”

Another batch of glowing shrimp apparently was bought at a Quality Food Center in Wallingford.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was not going to investigate the Seattle episodes because no “official, through-the-proper-channels” report was made.

“Further,” a spokeswoman added, “it’s not a food safety issue because no one got sick.”

Glowing seafood has been reported in the past. A government report in the ’90s said some products exhibited luminescence from the presence of certain light-emitting bacteria — a chemical reaction similar to that found in fireflies. There are at least nine luminescent species of bacteria in salt water.

Andy Richards, manager of the seafood department at the Thriftway, calls the glowing shrimp “creepy.”

He said he took Peters’ report seriously but believes it’s an isolated incident and doesn’t present a health hazard.

“We don’t hear a lot of complaints about glowing seafood, but then people rarely look at their shrimp and crab in the dark.”

However, Richards admits that he might “take a peek” at the seafood now and then in a darkened freezer “just in case.”

A caller who identified herself only as Barbara told the Seattle P-I on Monday that she had given some cooked shrimp she bought at the QFC in Wallingford to her three “very large” cats Sunday night as a “birthday treat.”

An hour later, she said, she was frightened at what she found. She saw a greenish-blue glow coming from the cat bowl on the darkened porch. When she turned on the light, she found the six shrimp untouched. Her porky cats, which she said “would eat your leg off if you stood in one place long enough,” didn’t touch them.

She pulled open the refrigerator door. The light bulb had burned out weeks ago, she said, but the plastic bag holding the remaining shrimp glowed brightly in the chilled darkness.

Neither Peters nor Barbara, who also ate some of the shrimp, said they were made ill, just a bit queasy at the idea of consuming the glowing seafood.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to eat the stuff,” said Dr. Bill Robertson of the Washington Poison Center, when asked about the safety of consuming the glowing food.

“I don’t know of any studies that show it’s hazardous, but, then again, I can’t envision anyone spending the money to do the costly tests to prove it’s safe,” the medical toxicologist said.

Some might expect the FDA would test glowing seafood.

Fortunately, the agency’s Seafood Product Research Center is in Bothell. Unfortunately, it hasn’t done anything on glowing seafood for almost a decade, said the center’s spokeswoman, who declined to permit any of the scientists to discuss the topic. The spokeswoman said the only research into luminescent bacteria or phosphorescing phytoplankton in seafood was begun about 20 years ago by Patricia Sado, an FDA microbiologist.

Sado’s study, which was published in 1998, examined reports of glowing seafood in the mid-1990s to health departments, poison centers and FDA offices across the country.

The products involved were imitation crabmeat, lobster and shrimp, herring, sardines and the always mysterious seafood salads.

Sometimes all that was left were the glowing plastic foam trays or empty wrappers.

A man in Aberdeen reported his fingers glowed after he and his wife ate some crabmeat.

Fresh, uncooked fish also were reported as glowing in the dark. A team of Environmental Protection Agency investigators evaluating the pollution of the Columbia River near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation were stopped by members of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon. They had 200 to 300 pounds of brightly glowing fish — whole king salmon they planned to use in a ceremony.

They were afraid to eat it because they believed the fish were radioactive, Sado reported. The analysis found the salmon — skin, intestine and gills — heavily contaminated with a bacterium called Photobacterium phosphoreum.

The reports the microbiologist collected listed only one death attributed to a bioluminescent seafood, and this was not from consumption of the bacterium but rather a 72-year-old man who cut himself while cleaning fish.

The ailments most often reported by Sado were headaches, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and diarrhea — symptoms similar to most food poisonings. However, many of her case studies — like Peters and Barbara — reported no health problems.

The FDA scientist — now retired and living in the Seattle area — still retains her interest in bioluminescence.

“It is just fascinating to study,” she said in an interview this week. “But people who see their seafood glowing should not think they’re crazy nor that the aliens have landed. There are reasons backed by solid science.”

She believes the problems at the Seattle stores probably were the result of cross-contamination. Cooking the product kills the luminescent bacteria and pathogens.

“Boiling the shrimp would have killed the P. phosphoreum, so the contamination probably happened after cooking,” she said. “Somewhere, either in the grocery that sold the product or the plant where the cooked shrimp were packed, contamination from uncooked seafood had to get on the shrimp. This could present a problem.”

The shrimp from the two stores were supplied by Ocean Beauty Seafood.

“We’ve spoken to the folks at Thriftway and QFC and are addressing their concerns,” said Jim Yonkers, director of corporate quality assurance for the Seattle-based seafood company, the largest in the Pacific Northwest.

“We’re going back to the eastern Canadian company that supplied the shrimp to us to discuss the procedures that they use. That’s only common sense.”

Jewish Neo-Nazis In Israel

Wow. Words pretty much fail me.  So here are someone else’s.

Israelis shocked as first neo-Nazi cell arrested
By Eric Silver in Jerusalem
The Independent (London), 10 September 2007

Six decades after Israel was founded to ensure that Jews would never suffer another Holocaust, the Jewish state has smashed its first cell of neo-Nazis. The idea was so unthinkable that the country has no law against neo-Nazi activity.

Eight Russian immigrants, aged 16 to 21, were remanded in custody in the Ramleh magistrates’ court, near Tel-Aviv, yesterday. They covered their faces with their shirts, baring arms tattooed with neo-Nazi insignia and slogans, and protested their innocence. A ninth suspect has fled the country. They are to be charged tomorrow with causing bodily harm, illegally possessing weapons and denying the Holocaust.

Superintendent Revital Almog, who headed the investigation, said: “The level of violence was outrageous.”

One of the young men was Jewish. The rest were admitted under Israeli legislation, which grants citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent and entry permits to the families of gentiles married to Jews. About one million immigrants, many with tenuous ties to Judaism, moved to Israel in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The cell’s alleged leader was named as Eli Buanitov. Detectives said they found an email message on his computer saying: “I won’t have kids. My grandfather is half Yid, so that this piece of trash won’t have ancestors with even the smallest percent of Jewish blood.” In another file, he was quoted as writing: “I will never give up. I was a Nazi and will remain a Nazi. I won’t rest until we kill them all.”

Undercover police began tracking the cell after two synagogues in the Tel-Aviv satellite town of Petah Tikva were desecrated and yeshiva students were beaten. Internal and external walls were spray-painted with swastikas, as well as “Heil Hitler” and “Death to the Jews” graffiti.

The religious community in the town has complained of a reign of terror. “There are people here who simply hate Jews,” said Nahum Taub, a synagogue sexton. Rabbi Yigal Rosen, who heads a yeshiva, reported that three of his students were ambushed as they walked through a local park.

The assailants beat them, called them names and held a knife to the neck of one student before stealing their mobile phones.

Inspector Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said the suspects had filmed themselves beating 15 ultra-Orthodox Jews, foreign workers, homosexuals, homeless people, drunks and drug addicts. In one particularly brutal assault, the whole group set about a Thai worker in the old Tel-Aviv bus station. He had to be treated in hospital.

Detectives who raided their homes found the films and a photograph of one of the group brandishing an M-16 assault rifle. They also confiscated knives, an improvised pistol, TNT, wires and detonators.

Some of the footage was shown at yesterday’s cabinet meeting. Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister, said: “We saw the appalling documentation of violence for its own sake. We as a society have failed in educating these youths and distancing them from crazy and dangerous ideologies.”

Inspector Rosenfeld said the eight had neo-Nazi tattoos on their arms. They would meet every few days and decide who and where to attack next. Searches of their computers and video cassettes revealed links to racist groups in Germany and the United States.

The case has shocked Israelis and prompted calls for the government to reconsider its immigration policy and to outlaw neo-Nazi and other hate crimes.

Efraim Zuroff, who is still hunting Nazi war criminals for the Simon Weisenthal Centre, said: “The writing was on the wall. This is what happens when you have laws that allow immediate citizenship to people with little connection to Jewish history, the Jewish people, the Jewish religion and Jewish culture.”

Avner Shalev, the chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial authority, said: “Neo-Nazi activity, wherever it appears, must be treated with the utmost seriousness and the perpetrators prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

“While this is a marginal and extreme case, it is nevertheless intolerable. It must be combated and addressed in the legal and educational systems.”

Colette Avital, a Labour MP, leads a group of about 20 legislators from all parties who have been pressing for a ban on neo-Nazi symbols and neo-Nazi activities. She was confident that their private members’ bill would now pass.

Ms Avital, who was a child fugitive in German-occupied Romania, urged the government to examine revoking the citizenship of anyone convicted of such crimes. “Neo-Nazism is a terrible thing. Israel is the one country where this shouldn’t happen,” she insisted. “But it’s not enough to ban it. You have to look at the root of things. What kind of education did these people receive? Kids like this don’t come from nowhere.”

Chinese Law Bans Reincarnation

As reported by Matthew Philips on the Newsweek web site, from the Aug. 20-27, 2007 issue:

In one of history’s more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.”

As the article notes, this is all about eliminating the influence of the Dalai Lama and (the Chinese hope) furthering its conquest of Tibet and the destruction of its culture.

In 1996, the Chinese abducted the last Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima (when he was 6 years old) for the same reasons. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Panchen Lama is the one who formally recognizes/proclaims the new incarnation of the Dalai Lama. And vice versa — the Dalai Lama formally recognizes incarnations of the Panchen Lama. In a sense, they are brothers who recognize each other across time.

The Panchen Lama and his parents have never been seen or heard from again. All the Chinese government will say is that they are still alive but held in secret “for their protection.” In all likelihood they were murdered long ago.

The Chinese later proclaimed another monk under their control as the Panchen Lama. He too is kept under wraps, though he is sometimes brought out for show. No Tibetan Buddhists recognize the Chinese Panchen Lama.

The Chinese Communist government is, basically, engaging in magical warfare against Tibetan Buddhism, and the Dalai Lama in particular.

The current Dalai Lama — Tenzin Gyatso — just turned 72, and since fleeing the Chinese invasion in 1959 he has lived in the remote refugee settlement of Dharamsala in northern India. The Dalai Lama is the head of the Tibetan Government in Exile, in accordance with Tibetan tradition. He also travels the world, a photogenic and lovable thorn in China’s world image.

The Dalai Lama is what the Tibetan Buddhists call a bodhisatva — a being who has achieved enlightment but rather than transcend has chosen instead to continue to incarnate so they can help other beings achieve enlightenment. Rather than escape hell, they stay and help others escape. In life after life. It is the ideal of compassion made most holy.

Tenzin Gyatso is the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama. He has said that his next incarnation will not be born in China.

In this context, the new Chinese “law” makes much more sense. And, really, is more disturbing than funny. (Though it’s awfully damn funny at first.)

Meanwhile, the first rail line to Tibet was opened just in the last couple years. It was built with the intention and expectation that it would greatly accelerate ethnic Chinese migration into Tibet, which is slowly being turned into an “exotic tourist destination”, and all that entails.

Hey, it worked great against the Native Americans, right?

Captain Midnight Commands: Catch the Wave

Ah yes, I remember it well!

“During a broadcast of the Dr. Who episode Horror of Fang Rock on WTTW Chicago Channel 11, on Sunday November 22nd, 1987, at around 11:15pm, a Video “Pirate” wearing a Max Headroom mask broke into the signal and transmitted one of the weirdest, unauthorized things ever to hit the Chicago airwaves.

Earlier in the evening on the same day, during the Nine O’Clock News on Channel 9 (yes, a completely different channel [in fact, WGN, owned by The Tribune]) the Max Headroom Pirate also broke in — although it was for a much shorter time and there was no audio.

Needless to say, Dan Roan (the sports reporter) was a bit flustered.

And no, he [the pirate broadcaster(s)] was never caught.”

Further details can be read from the archived Dec. 20, 1987 issue of the e-zine, Tolmes News Service. (Man, I kinda miss e-zines. Don’t you?) There’s also a Wikipedia entry about the Max Headroom pirating incident, according to which there “has not been a broadcast intrusion incident of this kind in America since.” Darn. There’s also a write-up at the aptly-named Damn Interesting site.

Ginormous thanks to my ol’ fellow Chicago expat buddy Hell’s Donut House for bringing this to my attention.

Here’s a partial attempted transcript of the lo-fi, electronically-distorted audio from the person who posted this to YouTube:

“He’s a freaky nerd!”

“This guy’s better than Chuck Swirsky.” [another WGN sportscaster at the time]

“Oh Jesus!”

“Catch the wave…” [reference to a Coke commercial at the time of which Max Headroom was a spokesperson]

“Your love is fading…”

“I stole CBS.”

“Oh, I just made a giant masterpiece printed all over the greatest world newspaper nerds.” [??]

“My brother [mother?] is wearing the other one.”

“It’s dirty…”

“They’re coming to get me…”

Also courtesy of YouTube, here is the CBS network news story about the incident, broadcast the following day (contrary to the added title on the clip, which is incorrect).