Tuesday, October 28, 2008

DARPA's Project Gandalf

The Gandalf Program is classified Secret/NOFORN, meaning only American firms whose personnel hold coveted U.S. Department of Defense "secret clearances or higher" need apply. The October 28, 2008 Industry Day will be held at the Rosslyn, Virginia headquarters of the Scitor Corporation. An appropriate venue if ever there were one.

Deriving its name from a Latin word meaning "to seek to know," Scitor's website has little in the way of useful information for the researcher, aside that is, from the usual banalities about "excellence" and "solving customer needs."

However, a profile on Yahoo! Finance reveals that Scitor "hopes to aid you in your search for technological knowledge and harmony." (!) There we also learn that the firm "offers a wide range of professional and technological services, including consulting work, risk management, software development and systems engineering." Unsurprisingly, "Scitor works primarily for U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Defense."

Founded in 1979, the company was acquired in 2007 by the private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners LLP. With $421.9 million in revenue in 2007, the company employs some 1,100 people with top secret and above security clearances. Their main competitors according to Yahoo's profile are Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services, Northrop Grumman Information Technology and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

But as investigative journalist Tim Shorrock revealed in his essential book Spies For Hire,

...Scitor, a CIA and defense contractor company...has become a $300 million company without creating a single ripple in the media. "It's the biggest company you never heard of," said a former NSA officer who knows the company well.

Scitor is a technology company that does extensive work for the U.S. Air Force in aerospace communications and satellite support services. The privately held company is also an important contractor for the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology... Within that directorate, two sources said, it is used primarily by the Office of Technical Services, the secretive unit that develops the gadgets, weapons and disguises used by spies. ...

A Scitor contract with the General Services Administration posted on the GSA's Web site lists the CIA among the company's clients. It states that Scitor helps government agencies manage "major acquisitions and cradle-to-grave programs that are vital to national defense." Those agencies include the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Security Agency, the NGA [National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency], the CIA and the Pentagon. (Tim Shorrock, Spies For Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008, pp. 141, 142)

Clearly, DARPA's cell phone tracking proposal falls well within the parameters of Scitor's spooky brief.

While the "specific goals and performance objectives associated with RF geolocation and SEI for the Gandalf system are classified," it doesn't take a rocket scientist--or securocrat--to realize there's real money to be made here.

Former Royal Navy officer Lew Page who unearthed the project for the U.K. online tech publication The Register, reports that "Project Gandalf" will supplement work "already done by surveillance aircrafts and/or drones." The "new wrinkle" according to Page, "is being able to do it using handheld devices" at close quarters. Page writes,

So it would appear that a group of undercover operatives or special-forces troops dispersed near a target (perhaps a specific cell or satellite phone) might carry portable gadgets, presumably networked. The netted devices would be able to pick out the phone, radio or whatever they were after and track it. ...

As far as the technology goes, the idea sounds feasible. Commercial pico/microcell gear, for instance--with all the capabilities needed to ID and locate cell phones--is already easily down to briefcase size. Satellite phones would be harder, of course. (Lew Page, "DARPA to Begin Mysterious 'Project Gandalf'," The Register, October 8, 2008)

As I wrote in "Niche Telecom Providers Assisting NSA Spy Operations," enterprising capitalist grifters in the telecom industry are already "providing security agencies with real-time cell phone tracking capabilities." What makes this research so insidious are the workarounds supplied--at a premium price--by under-the-radar companies to NSA or the U.K.'s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) not covered by any law.

Project Gandalf clearly travels along the same repressive continuum but with a twist. If the program pans out it will give security agents an "up close and personal" capacity, let's just call it for the sake of argument, that real-world intel touch required to disrupt meetings or smash an organizing drive even as they're taking place. Now that's real progress!

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The Bollywood star who nearly became Pakistan's First Lady



From: Wikipedia entry

Madhubala (Hindi: मधुबाला, Urdu: مدھو بالا) (February 14, 1933 - February 23, 1969), born Mumtaz Begum Jehan Dehlavi, was a popular Hindi film actress who starred in several successful films in the 1950s and early 1960s, many of which have achieved classic and cult status today. With her contemporaries, Nargis and Meena Kumari, she is widely regarded as one of the most talented and influential actresses to have appeared on the screens of Hindi Cinema.

Mumtaz Begum Jehan Dehlavi, famously known as Madhubala, was born in Delhi, India on February 14, 1933. She was Muslim and an ethnic Pathan, the fifth child of a conservative family of eleven children.
After Madhubala's father, Ataullah Khan lost his job at the Imperial Tobacco Company, the family endured many hardships including the deaths of four of Madhubala's sisters and her two brothers. Madhubala and four other sisters remained. In search of a better life for his impoverished family, her father relocated them to Bombay. There they struggled for over a year and often frequented the Bombay film studios in search of work. Young Mumtaz entered films at the age of nine.

[...]

In the early 1950s as Madhubala became one of the most sought-after actresses in India, she also attracted interest from Hollywood. She appeared in many American magazines such as Theatre Arts. In their August 1952 issue, Madhubala was featured in an extensive article with a full page photo. The piece was entitled: The Biggest Star in the World (And She's Not in Beverly Hills). It presented the actress as a mysterious and ethereal woman of mythical beauty with a legion of fans.

During this period, on a trip to Bombay and its film studios, the American filmmaker Frank Capra was pampered and hosted by the elite of the Hindi movie industry. However the one star he really wanted to meet was conspicuous by her absence, Madhubala. A meeting to discuss an opening for Madhubala in Hollywood was proposed by Capra. Madhubala's father declined and put an emphatic end to her potential Hollywood film career.

[...]

In 2008 a commemorative postage stamp featuring Madhubala was issued. The stamp was produced by India Post in a limited edition presentation pack which featured images of the actress. It was launched by veteran actor Manoj Kumar in a glittering ceremony attended by friends and surviving members of Madhubala's family. The only other Indian film actress to be honoured in this manner is Nargis Dutt.




Madhubala was an unforgettable Anarkali. And her portrayal of Radha in "mohe panghat pe nandala chhed gayo re" continues to mesmerise movie-goers. Surprisingly, the song was almost edited out. "It's bakwas.. it'll ruin the film," thundered noted director Vijay Bhatt after the recording. "Why show Akbar celebrating Lord Krishna's birth?"

Music director Naushad argued that with Jodhabai present in the Mughal court, it wasn't all that illogical. After discussions with the panel of script writers, a line was incorporated in Anarkali's introduction scene to Prince Salim. A courtier was made to say "Aaj Krishna janmashtami hai aur Radha ke liye Anarkali theek rahegi." The song went on to become piece-de-resistance.

K. Asif wanted the best choreographer for the song. Naushad suggested Lachchu Maharaj. And the great Kathak exponent burst into tears the minute he heard the song. Asif was baffled. "Why is he crying," he asked Naushad. "Tell him to start dancing."

Naushad took the dancer aside and asked him why he was weeping. Lachchu Maharaj confided that his father, Alkaji Bindadin, had been Nawab Wajid Ali Shah's darbari dancer. And "mohe panghat pe nandalal" with nawab playing Krishna, was his favourite composition. "Hearing the number after all these years, I was overwhelmed. It reminded me of baba".

It took Lachchu Maharaj five days to choreograph the number. His Radha was lovely... but she was no classical dancer. So the camera would zoom in on Madhubala for the close-ups. And one of Lachhu Maharaj's boys doubled for the actress in the long shots. On every one of those five days, there was an important visitor from across the border on the sets - Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He would drive down from Worli to Mohan Studio and spend the day there raptly watching the song being picturised.



Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto: Very few Indians know that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto lived both in India and Pakistan until late 1950s. Bhutto was a very rich man and owned lots of real estate in Mumbai at that time. He also owned a sprawling Mansion named as My Nest at Bandra, Mumbai which was later confiscated by Indian Government during 1965 Indo-Pak War along with his other assets in Mumbai.

In 1950s, Bhutto used to visit the sets of Mughal-e-Azam in Mumbai studios just to see Madhubala. Especially, on the sets when the song Mohe Panghat Pe Nandlal Ched Gayo Re was being picturized, Bhutto was present and he was completely mesmerizedby the song composition and the picturization. Maestro Music Director Naushad was also present at the time of this picturization and Bhutto complimented Naushad Saab for composing such a melodious song based on RagaPilu. Bhutto was considered a special guest of Madhubala.
Madhubala liked Bhuttos charm. Sometimes they used to have lunch together and Bhutto used to make her laugh with his wit. In those days Bhutto used to live at Worli, Mumbai and used to practice law as a barrister in Mumbai High Court. However, Bhutto was not part of Mumbais film world.
Bhutto was obsessed with Madhubalas beauty. He used to come to the sets of Mughal-e-Azam and used to sit in the studio for hours watching Madhubala. But Bhutto had already wedded Shirin Begum, daughter of a rich landlord of Larkana, Sind and he was also married to Nusrat, an attractive young Irani girl (mother of Benazir Bhutto). As a result Bhutto used to shuttle between Larkana and Karachi. And now with Madhubala in mind, he started three-way shuttle to Larkana, Karachi and Mumbai. But Bhutto had different plans.
In the meantime, he had decided to plunge in Pakistani politics and left Mumbai for good to settle down permanently in Sind, Pakistan. Thus Anarkali Madhubala could not become the first lady of Pakistan (Note: Bhutto became Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1972). Exact relationship between Madhubala and Bhutto remains shrouded in mystery. Only Madhubalas diary could have thrown some light on this subject. However, her diary was buried by her father with Madhubala in her grave.

Sen. McCain's nuclear plan: An economic and environmental disaster

Sen. John McCain has repeatedly called for building 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030, with the ultimate goal of 100 new plants. The plan would be extremely costly to taxpayers, presents significant risk for the economy and the public, and does little to solve America's energy problems.

McCain's radical expansion of nuclear power would have major consequences for America that his campaign has either not disclosed or not considered, even though nuclear power is constantly referenced as one of the centerpieces of the McCain energy policy.

A $280 billion cost to taxpayers: Nuclear plants are enormously expensive. The cost of 45 reactors is likely to be at least $315 billion, while 100 reactors would cost at least $700 billion. Under Sen. McCain's plan, taxpayers are estimated to be on the hook for $126 billion to $280 billion in failed nuclear loans.

A job creation fantasy: New nuclear power plants would create, at best, one- fourth as many jobs as Sen. McCain claimed during the second presidential debate, costing taxpayers as much as $19 million for each job created.

Fails to take advantage of cleaner, cheaper alternatives: Clean energy technologies such as energy-efficient products and wind and solar power can deliver more energy much sooner than building new nuclear power plants, and create more jobs at a lower cost to taxpayers—without the risks. John McCain has consistently failed to support those lower cost alternatives, and his costly nuclear plan would continue to keep better alternatives underfunded and at the back of the line.

It's clear that Sen. McCain's nuclear proposal would be an economic disaster. It would also risk environmental disaster by creating enough waste to fill a second Yucca Mountain-sized dump and dramatically increasing the amount of nuclear waste transported on our roads and rails. Finally, Sen. McCain's plan would do nothing to deal with our current energy crisis because no new power would be generated until at least 2019.

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U.S. has plundered world wealth with dollar: China paper

The United States has plundered global wealth by exploiting the dollar's dominance, and the world urgently needs other currencies to take its place, a leading Chinese state newspaper said on Friday.

The front-page commentary in the overseas edition of the People's Daily said that Asian and European countries should banish the U.S. dollar from their direct trade relations for a start, relying only on their own currencies.

A meeting between Asian and European leaders, starting on Friday in Beijing, presented the perfect opportunity to begin building a new international financial order, the newspaper said.

The People's Daily is the official newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party. The Chinese-language overseas edition is a small circulation offshoot of the main paper.

Its pronouncements do not necessarily directly voice leadership views. But the commentary, as well as recent comments, amount to a growing chorus of Chinese disdain for Washington's economic policies and global financial dominance in the wake of the credit crisis.

"The grim reality has led people, amidst the panic, to realize that the United States has used the U.S. dollar's hegemony to plunder the world's wealth," said the commentator, Shi Jianxun, a professor at Shanghai's Tongji University.

Shi, who has before been strident in his criticism of the U.S., said other countries had lost vast amounts of wealth because of the financial crisis, while Washington's sole concern had been protecting its own interests.

"The U.S. dollar is losing people's confidence. The world, acting democratically and lawfully through a global financial organization, urgently needs to change the international monetary system based on U.S. global economic leadership and U.S. dollar dominance," he wrote.

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ZERO : An investigation into 9/11

Part 1



ZERO: An Investigation into 9/11, has one central thesis - that the official version of the events surrounding the attacks on 9/11 can not be true. This brand new feature documentary from Italian production company Telemaco explores the latest scientific evidence and reveals dramatic new witness testimony, which directly conflicts with the US Government's account.

Featuring presentations from intellectual heavy weights; Gore Vidal, and Noble Prize winner Dario Fo, the film challenges assumptions surrounding the attacks. In the words of the Italian daily newspaper, Il Corriere de da Sera, "What results is a sequence of contradictions, gaps, and omissions of stunning gravity."

The importance of this film can not be overstated. If its thesis is correct, the justification for going to war in Iraq is built on a series of outrageous lies.


http://zero911movie.com/site/

Mammon, the god of excess

In an essay especially pertinent to contemporary American society, L'Exil d'Hélene, Albert Camus noted, "Greek thought always restrained itself behind the idea of limits. It never exceeded limits, neither the sacred, nor reason, because it denied nothing, neither the sacred, nor reason. It made allowance for everything, balancing shadow and light. Instead, our Europe, launched toward the conquest of totality, is the very daughter of excess (writing in the immediate aftermath of World War II, I'm certain Camus would note here not only Europe but especially the America of our times.) …. In its folly it extends the eternal limits, and immediately obscure Erinys fall on it and tear it apart."

Reading Camus' essay in the midst of the bedlam of the ongoing collapse of Capitalism falling to pieces around us helped me pinpoint the idea for this concluding essay of the Definitions series: Definitions: The Proletariat; Definitions: The Intelligentsia; Definitions: The Bourgeoisie. Mammon is the God of Excess and the very personification of the capitalist god (or rather its demon), even though now a fallen god.

The natural subject for this essay is Capitalism itself, in fact, the underlying subject of the whole essay quartet. However, since Capitalism is too vast to treat here, the god-devil image of Mammon is more accessible. For the very basis of Western society is the personification of a Weltanschauung, a view of life, which is the illusion of the possibility of a life without limits. Many readers have recognized the hubris of our economic-financial world this 2008 as the direct result of our attempt to exceed universal limits. For the worship of Mammon, the Golden Calf, the love of wealth, marks our times.

In the Bible, "Mammon" is not a demon but simply the Aramaic word meaning "wealth" or "property." Sometimes it is translated as "money." In the Middle Ages, in religious writings, in the fiery sermons of the fanatical Dominican monk in Florence, Girolamo Savonarola, and in literature, Mammon is personified as the demon of avarice and wealth.

For modern men as for medieval men Mammon is the personification of the excessive love of money and wealth. By extension then Mammon is the god of excess. Mammon demands that its worshippers strive toward excess, that they exceed the eternal limits of the Greeks. America has obeyed the abominable god's commandments.

Excess! Surplus. Extravagance. Intemperance. Exceptionalism. Outrageous expectations. Exaggerated presumptions. Too much. Too big. Too fast. Too much of everything. Too, too, too….

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Revealed: why evil lurks in us all

Psychologists have struggled for decades to explain why ordinary people participate in atrocities such as the Nazi Holocaust or the Stalinist purges.

Now experiments carried out in Britain reveal that most people obey authority unquestioningly and would also walk past an injured stranger who did not come from their own ethnic or social group.

The findings will shake the long-held British belief that this country is immune from the kinds of tyranny found in other parts of the world.

Research carried out at Lancaster University on football supporters found that they failed consistently to come to the aid of an injured supporter from a rival team. Secret cameras filmed individual Manchester United fans as they ignored a Liverpool fan played by an actor while he writhed in pain on the floor. When the actor wore a Manchester United shirt, the supporters helped him in 80 per cent of cases. When he switched to a Liverpool shirt, all but a handful walked straight past. The results of the research will be revealed in a BBC programme, Five Steps to Tyranny , on the nature of evil to be presented by Sheena McDonald this week.

A separate experiment - again filmed with secret cameras - shows the majority of people on a train complying with a stranger's order to give up their seat. When the stranger is accompanied by a man in a uniform, not a single person chooses to disobey.

McDonald said she was shocked by what the experiments showed: 'The majority of people have a psychological tendency to obey and conform. All of us involved in the programme found ourselves looking at our own lives and examining whether we were beginning on the first step to tyranny.'

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