Daily Archives: May 9, 2008

DARPA Plans Cyberwar ‘Matrix’


The agency’s National Cyber Range for cyberwar simulation would be similar to Star Trek’s holodeck or a Snow Crash-style Metaverse.

InformationWeek | May 8, 2008

By Thomas Claburn

Police officers practice their firearm skills on a shooting range, so why shouldn’t government computer security experts have the same kind of training ground?

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, on Monday issued a call for research proposals to develop the National Cyber Range, or NCR (NYSE: NCR), a virtual network environment for cyberwar simulation.

In other words, Darpa wants to build something along the lines of The Matrix, Star Trek’s holodeck, or a Snow Crash-style Metaverse to test cyberwar strategies and drill cyberwarriors.

That’s not to say Darpa is aiming for a visually immersive world to entertain people; rather, it wants a place to pit hackers against simulated machines.

Darpa’s interest in such matters reflects a growing U.S. government and military commitment to develop more sophisticated cyberwar capabilities. A major reason for this is that other countries, such as China, are pursuing similar goals.

“The NCR will become a National resource for testing unclassified and classified cyber programs,” Darpa’s announcement explains. “Government and Government-sponsored Test Organizations (TO) authorized to conduct cyber testing will coordinate with the NCR performer for range time and resources. …The NCR will support multiple, simultaneous, segmented tests and testbeds. At the completion of the test the NCR will sanitize and de-allocate the testbed resources, thus absorbing them back into the range.”

The NCR aims to provide the ability to replicate military, government, and commercial IT systems and infrastructure; to monitor and manage events; and to analyze, collect, and present test data.

The NCR should be able to “realistically replicate human behavior and frailties,” to provide “realistic, sophisticated, nation-state quality offensive and defensive opposition forces,” and to “accelerate and decelerate relative test time.”

With any luck, human frailties won’t manifest themselves in the form of a ballooning budget as the NCR takes shape.

Canadian military wants army of Iron Men


Canadian military looking for Iron Man-type suits for overburdened soldiers

Yahoo News | May 5, 2008

By Dean Beeby, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Iron Man Canuck may be appearing soon at a theatre near you.

The Defence Department posted a contract tender Monday asking companies for proposals for high-tech body suits that could help Canadian soldiers carry bigger loads into battle.

“One of the key challenges faced by soldiers today is the large weight they must carry,” says the notice.

Soldiers have been beasts of burden since the early days of the Roman legions, when the legionaries fighting under Gaius Marius laughingly called themselves Marius’s mules.

Soldiers in the field today regularly tote loads of 45 kilograms, including water, rations and ammunition.

“A soldier carrying a large pack on their back will be limited in terms of speed and endurance. . . . Exoskeletons and other mobility devices may offer alternative solutions to the important problem of reducing load burden for the soldier of tomorrow,” the posting added.

The contract, worth up to $204,000, is to be awarded in June and could include creation of a prototype and demonstration suit. The work is set to run until Jan. 31, 2011.

A spokeswoman for the military said the Dartmouth, N.S., scientific group ordering the research would not comment until after a contract has been awarded.

“They’re . . . in the early stage (and) they don’t really have any details that would be of any value to share,” said Bobbi Jo Bradley. “They’re not sure which direction it will take.”

Exoskeletons and similar body-armour have been the stuff of science fiction for decades and have been under study by the U.S. military since at least the 1960s.

But in early 2001, the U.S. Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency began concentrated work on producing a working version, earmarking US $50 million for the project.

The Pentagon agency eventually awarded a contract to Sarcos, a Salt Lake City, Utah, company now owned by Raytheon, that produced a test version this year – not unlike the Iron Man suit of the blockbuster film that opened last weekend. Known as the XOS Exoskeleton, it uses a single engine and hydraulics to assist movement.

A spokesperson for Sarcos was not immediately available for comment. But an official who’s in charge of the military program said a prototype worked well.

“I sort of felt like The Hulk and I’m a skinny guy,” John Main told a media outlet last fall. “I wore a 100-pound weight on my back and it felt like I was carrying nothing like that amount.”

The Canadian military has struggled for years to find a balance between the high-tech gear that’s rapidly becoming available and the ability of its soldiers to actually carry the equipment in the field.

In recent years, for example, National Defence has ordered research on the neck strain caused by helmets weighed down with night-vision goggles.

Military researchers have set aside as much as $310 million for a so-called “integrated soldier system” that would, for example, connect radios, digital maps, night-vision goggles and range-finding laser binoculars into a single system.


Iron Man: The science behind the fiction

China to modernise nuclear weapons capability

Telegraph | May 9, 2008

By Richard Spencer in Beijing

China is undertaking a dramatic overhaul of its nuclear weapons in an effort to modernise and expand its arsenal.

One of the world’s leading arms control experts has said that the Chinese have realised that their nuclear weaponry has fallen behind those of other major powers and might not survive a first strike.

Bates Gill, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), said that as a result it was developing more flexible delivery systems, including from submarines, as well as the capacity to use multiple warheads.

“Among the major nuclear powers China stands out in its effort to modernise, expand and improve its nuclear weapons capability,” he said at a conference in Beijing.

China’s first nuclear test took place amid huge patriotic pride in 1964.

But Chairman Mao was famously ambiguous about such weapons, once calling them “paper tigers”.

Its arsenal, estimated at between 100 and 200 warheads, is the smallest of the big powers – the United States, Russia, Britain and France. The US is currently updating its missiles and warheads.

China now has a stated policy of never using nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear country and never as a “first strike”. But Dr Gill said its static nuclear delivery system had left it vulnerable to a first strike.

A sea-based capability would “make it less likely that an adversary could wipe out the possibility of a response,” he said.

The Telegraph disclosed last week that China is constructing a secret nuclear submarine base to bolster its capabilities in the Pacific.

Dr Gill said the advances China was making raised questions about whether it could be an active participant in future arms control or reduction talks.

His comments were notable for being presented alongside a spokesman for China’s own arms control association, which is publishing the Chinese language version of Sipri’s annual report.

Teng Jianqun, a former navy colonel in the People’s Liberation Army, said the increase in military spending was partly a result of improving equipment and the living conditions for its troops, and partly due to refocusing strategy across the Taiwan strait.

On the positive side, Dr Gill said that China had made a complete about-turn in policy on weapons proliferation compared with 15 years ago, when it actively sought to undermine international treaties.

He also said that despite criticisms over its supplies of weapons to Africa and other unstable regions, its share of the global arms trade had fallen to about two per cent.

Men lose jobs in recession, while women make gains

MSNBC | May 8, 2008

Slumping economy: It’s a guy thing

By Peter Coy

They eat from the same dishes and sleep in the same beds, but they seem to be operating in two different economies. From last November through this April, American women aged 20 and up gained nearly 300,000 jobs, according to the household survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, American men lost nearly 700,000 jobs. You might even say American men are in recession, and American women are not.

What’s going on? Simply put, men have the misfortune of being concentrated in the two sectors that are doing the worst — manufacturing and construction. Women are concentrated in sectors that are still growing, such as education and health care.

This situation is hardly good news for women, though. While they’re getting more jobs, their pay is stagnant. Also, most share households—and bills—with the men who are losing jobs. And the “female” economy can’t stay strong for long if the “male” economy weakens too much.

The troubles for the American male worker, while exacerbated by the current slump, are hardly new. The manufacturing sector is in long-term decline, and construction goes through repeated booms and busts. Meanwhile women are graduating from college at higher rates than men. Some analysts even argue that men are less suited than women to the knowledge economy, which rewards supposedly female traits such as sensitivity, intuition, and a willingness to collaborate. “Men have tended to do better in the hierarchies, following orders and relying on positional power,” says Andy Hines, a futurist at the Washington, D.C. consulting firm Social Technologies, who previously worked for Kellogg and Dow Chemical.

Problem industries

Whether you buy that argument or not, it’s clear that right now men are in a bad spot. The share of all men aged 20 and over with jobs has fallen since last November, when private-sector employment peaked, going from 72.9% to 72.2% in April. For women the ratio rose, from 58.1% to 58.3%. The adult male unemployment rate has risen twice as much as the female jobless rate since November. Those figures from the BLS’ household survey are echoed in its separate survey of employers.

To see why, go sector by sector. Manufacturing is over 70% male and construction is about 88% male. Meanwhile the growing education and health services sector is 77% female. The government sector, which has remained strong, is 57% female. The securities business, which is filled with high-paying jobs, is likely to be the next sector to get whacked — and more than 60% of its workers are men.

Men are having a harder time than women getting back on track after losing a job. “For a man to move from a $20- or $30-an-hour union job to being a Wal-Mart greeter is devastating,” says Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University labor historian. Men also shy away from some of the growing fields, such as nursing. Only about 10% of nursing students nationwide are male, notes Harriet R. Feldman, dean of the Pace University School of Nursing. Some retired nurses are actually going back to work because their husbands have lost jobs, says Lois Cooper, vice-president for employee relations and diversity at staffing firm Adecco Group North America in Melville, N.Y.

The weakness of the male economy is squeezing people such as Brian Day, 45, a union carpenter in Ossian, Ind., who made about $35,000 in construction last year but only $1,500 so far in 2008. The family of five is living off his jobless benefits and the $35,000 salary of his wife, a supermarket supervisor. Says Day: “I feel guilty about it.” Jeff Bainter, 53, a railroad worker in Muncie, Ind., has enough seniority to keep his job but sees younger men getting the ax. He says there’s more security but lower pay in what his wife, Cynthiana, does for a living: medical billing.


Dungeon Sex-Slave Master Daddy: The Nazis Made Me Do It


Josef Fritzl: I did it for her own good

Telegraph | May 9, 2008

Josef Fritzl blames Nazis for crimes

By Andreas Sam in Vienna

Josef Fritzl, the Austrian father who kept his daughter locked in a dungeon for 24 years, has for the first time described in detail what motivated him to commit such horrific crimes and how he managed to keep them secret.

His explanations, which included bizarre claims that Nazis were responsible for fostering his twisted morality, were detailed by his lawyer after Fritzl wrote notes from his prison cell.

The 73-year-old said Hitler’s Germany had instilled “control and the respect of authority” in him, pushing him to imprisoning his daughter Elisabeth under his family home in Amstetten, west of Vienna, and fathering her seven children.

Blaming the Nazis for his attitudes, Fritzl wrote: “I have always had high regard for decency and uprightness. I was growing up in Nazi times, when hard discipline was a very important thing. I belong to an old school of thinking that just does not exist today.

“I grew up in the Nazi times and that meant there needed to be control and the respect of authority. I suppose I took on some of these old values with me into later life, all subconsciously, of course.”

Fritzl claimed that he had kidnapped the teenage Elisabeth to keep her away from alcohol and bad company. He also said he had “rescued” Elisabeth, who was then 18, to keep her from “going out to seedy bars” and “drinking and smoking.”


Girl, 13, hangs herself after becoming obsessed with suicide cult


‘Everything to live for’: school student Hannah Bond hanged herself not long after showing her father the cuts on her wrists as part of her ’emo initiation’

Daily Mail | May 7, 2008


A girl of 13 killed herself after becoming obsessed with a fashion which links death with glamour, an inquest heard.

Hannah Bond hanged herself from her bunk bed with a tie after becoming an ‘Emo’.

Emo fans wear dark clothes, practise self-harm and listen to “suicide cult” rock bands.

Two weeks before her death, she started following U.S. band My Chemical Romance.

One of their songs contains the lyrics: “Although you’re dead and gone, believe me your memory will go on.”

Hannah, described as a model pupil, had started cutting her wrists but told her father it was part of an initiation into the Emo fashion.

Coroner Roger Sykes said yesterday that Hannah’s death was “not glamorous, just simply a tragic loss of a young life”.

Hannah’s mother Heather told the inquest she had researched the trend since her daughter’s death.

“There are websites that show pink teddies hanging themselves,” she said.

“She called Emo a fashion and I thought it was normal.”

She added: “Hannah was a normal girl. She had loads of friends. She could be a bit moody but I thought it was just because she was a teenager.”

Hannah’s father Ray, a karate teacher, said: “Two weeks before, I saw the cuts. I asked her about them and she said it was an Emo initiation.

“She promised me she would never do it again.”

Hannah gave her name as Living Disaster on her page on social networking website Bebo.

The page is decorated with a picture of an Emo girl with bloody wrists after slashing herself.

Another picture shows a child’s exercise book scrawled with the words: “Dear Diary, today I give up. . .”

The inquest in Maidstone, Kent, heard Hannah had been with her boyfriend at a friend’s house on the evening of September 22 last year.

She had been angry when she was told she was not allowed to sleep over and when she got home in East Peckham she went straight to her room, saying: “I want to kill myself.”

The inquest was told Hannah had not used drugs or alcohol before her death but Vanessa Everett, her head teacher at Mascalls School, said self-harm had become commonplace among other Emo fans.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Sykes said: “The Emo overtones concerning death and associating it with glamour I find very disturbing.”

•The Emo phenomenon began in the U.S. in the 1980s. It is a largely teenage trend and is characterised by depression, self-injury and suicide.

Followers wear tight jeans with studded belts and wristbands. Their hair is dyed black and worn in long fringes to obscure their faces.

Emo – from the word emotional – is a reference to the angst-filled lyrics and melancholy themes of the rock music central to the culture.

One of the foremost of these “suicide cult” bands is My Chemical Romance, from New Jersey.

Their first single, Welcome to the Black Parade, from the album The Black Parade, was released in 2006 and became a huge hit, going to number one in Britain.

The concept album follows the story of a character called The Patient, who dies of cancer.

The Black Parade is a nickname for the place where Emo fans believe they will go when they die.


Gerard Way, the lead singer of My Chemical Romance stated in an interview that “emo is a pile of shit”, and that his band was never emo. Panic at the Disco also stated in an interview with NME: “emo is bullshit.”

Fans of emo are criticized for purported displays of emotion common in the scene. Complaints pointed to the histrionic manner in which the emotions were expressed.

… its woman-induced misery has gone from being descriptive…to being prescriptive.” Regarding the position of women listening to emo, the contributor went on to note that the music had become “just another forum where women were locked in a stasis of outside observation, observing ourselves through the eyes of others.”

Critics of modern emo have argued that there is a tendency toward increasingly generic and homogenized style.

Emo music has been blamed for the suicide by hanging of Hannah Bond by both the coroner at the inquest into her death and her mother, Heather Bond, after it was claimed that emo music glamorized suicide and her apparent obsession with My Chemical Romance was said to be linked to her suicide. The inquest heard that she was part of an internet “emo” cult and her Bebo page contained an image of an ‘emo girl’ with bloody wrists.It was also revealed that she had discussed “the glamour of hanging” online and had explained to her parents that her self harming was an “emo initiation ceremony”. Heather Bond criticised emo fashion, saying: “There are ‘emo’ websites that show pink teddies hanging themselves.”

In Russia, a law has been presented at the Duma to regulate emo websites and forbid emo style at schools and government buildings, for fears of emo being a “dangerous teen trend” promoting anti-social behaviour, depression, social withdrawal and even suicide.

The Montreal Killer Was Death-Obsessed Goth

Goths arrested on suspicion of murdering and eating teenagers in Satanic ritual

Satan worshippers kill and eat four Russian teenagers after stabbing each of them 666 times
The father of victim Andrei Sorokin said: ‘My son said he knew some goths, and that he had goths and Satanists among his friends.

‘Goth Butcher’ and Accomplice Allegedly Ate Girl in Pie

Finland school shooting gunman planned massacre for six years
Saari had been fixated with the German singer Rudy Ratzinger (pictured) of the industrial goth music project Wumpscut

English are ‘overweight, binge-drinking, reality TV addicts’, says new Rough Guide

“The English have become obedient-consumers rather than active citizens, with brand loyalty the nearest thing to religious/spiritual belief,” says the guide.

“The English may have more material goods than they ever have had before, but they also swallow antidepressants by the bucketload.”

Daily Mail | May 9, 2008


On the minus side, England is a nation of “overweight, binge-drinking reality TV addicts”, according to the latest edition of a top-selling tourist guide.

It accuses the English of being quarrelsome, contradictory and “obsessed with toffs and C-list celebrities”.

But before Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells starts spluttering into his Earl Grey, it should be said that the Rough Guide to England pays the country plenty of compliments as well.

For example, England is “also a country of animal-loving, tea-drinking, charity donors, where queuing remains a national pastime and bastions of civilisation, like Radio 4, are jealously protected”.

The cradle of Shakespeare, Newton and Dickens is described as deeply conservative yet having “a richly multi-ethnic culture” whose people’s “warmth is in the humour, a sort of national solidarity that is bred in the bone”.

While it highlights a perpetual collision of culture, class and race, it says the country does still manage to “fit together”. London is praised as a “colossal, frenetic city” with “a unique aura of excitement and success”.

The guide concludes with the slightly back-handed compliment that: “Of the 200-plus destinations across the world that Rough Guides covers, there is none so fascinating, beautiful and culturally diverse, yet as insular, self-important and irritating, as England.”
It does not name the “C-list celebrities” dragging down the nation but may well have had the likes of Jade Goody, Wayne Rooney and Girls Aloud in mind.

The warts-and-all assessment by the £15.99 guide, which is published around the world, was taken in good part by the tourism body, Visit Britain, yesterday.

“I think readers of the guide would recognise these comments are tongue-in-cheek,” a spokesman said. “Our sense of humour is one of the many reasons, along with heritage and culture, that people come here. “The comments demonstrate the quirkiness of the English personality that is so attractive to many visitors.”

The guide lampoons the national obsession with the weather, saying: ‘A two-day cold snap is discussed as if it were the onset of a new Ice Age and a week above 25 degrees starts rumours of a drought.’

It also highlights contradictions, pointing out: “It’s a nation that prides itself on its patriotism – yet has a Scottish prime minister, an Italian football coach and a Greek royal consort.”

A vigorous debate on heavyweight political issues such as immigration, terrorism and street crime is “served up with liberal dollops of celebrity chit-chat”.

Fish and chips has long given way to chicken tikka masala as the favourite dish, and while all things European tend to be distrusted “the English increasingly embrace a continental lifestyle”.

The guide suggests only a sense of humour allows the English to negotiate these contradictions, as well as cope with overcrowded roads and “risible” public transport.

Some of the other comments might test that sense of humour, however.

“The English have become obedient-consumers rather than active citizens, with brand loyalty the nearest thing to religious/spiritual belief,” says the guide.

“The English may have more material goods than they ever have had before, but they also swallow antidepressants by the bucketload.”

The Rough Guide also warns tourists that the English are ‘the most contradictory people imaginable adding: “However long you spend in the country you’ll never figure them out”.

The Rough Guides series was founded by Mark Ellingham some 26 years ago after he was unable to find a suitable guidebook for a student trip to Greece.

The company was sold to Penguin in 2002.

Putin boasts that Russia’s economy will overtake Britain’s

Telegraph | May 8, 2008

By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow

Vladimir Putin has boasted that Russia’s economy will overtake Britain’s this year as he was formally declared Russia’s prime minister.

Flanked by Dmitry Medvedev, the loyalist he placed into his old job on Wednesday, Mr Putin marked the climax of his carefully choreographed plan to remain in power beyond his presidency and unsmilingly acknowledged MPs who rose in ovation after approving his nomination.

The ballot represented the culmination of a three-year strategy to allow Mr Putin essentially to succeed himself.

Constitutionally banned from serving a third consecutive four-year term as president, the former KGB spy appears to have found the next best way of remaining Russia’s most powerful man.

In a sign of how the relationship could unfold, Mr Medvedev suggested that his new prime minister was, at the very least, his equal.

“I think nobody doubts that our tandem, our co-operation, will only strengthen,” he told parliament.

In the two days he has been in office, Mr Medvedev has been consistently outshone by his new prime minister, who has dominated television airtime and delivered longer speeches.

At both the presidential inauguration and during yesterday’s nomination vote, the 42-year-old former lawyer seemed more a compere than president, his role reduced to introducing Mr Putin and then thanking him effusively once he finished speaking.

While Mr Medvedev has restricted his public comments since becoming president to brief but vague promises, Mr Putin laid out a concrete agenda for the Russian economy.

In a welcome development for his allies in the energy sector, large swathes of which Mr Putin re-nationalised as president, the prime minister said tax cuts for oil and gas companies would be introduced by August.

In a populist move, he also proposed large increases in government spending to fund pay rises in the military and the near doubling of the minimum wage.

Attacking the West for allegedly restricting Russian foreign investment, he said that the country’s economy would overtake Britain’s this year.

“Russia is currently standing in seventh place in the world,” he said.

“According to international experts, it can climb another step as early as this year and overtake Britain.”

Britain has the fifth largest economy in the world, while Russia is in 10th place, although its ranking climbs if judged by purchasing power parity.

Mr Putin is expected to name his cabinet within a week.

As president, he always took charge of ministerial appointments, but few expect him to defer to Mr Medvedev.

One school of thought predicted that he would mount a bid for the presidency in 2012.

The United States yesterday disclosed that two military attachés at its embassy in Moscow were expelled at the end of last month.

The absence of an official explanation suggested that espionage was at the root of the row.