Bush Begins Preparations For Nation’s Final Year – let’s start things off with a bit of humour – or is it?
Conservative pastor urges buying Microsoft stock to fight its gay rights efforts – a black man uses race and his position as a pastor to encourage white people to discriminate against gays?
Iraqi Soldier Who Killed U.S. Troops is a Hero in Iraq – what do you expect? the US troops were acting like assholes, and they got what they deserve for a change!
Adobe, Omniture in hot water for snooping on CS3 users – yet another reason not to use adobe products… it’s too bad that adobe went from making one of the best page layout programs in existence to the microsoft-clone that they are currently…
Bush Begins Preparations For Nation’s Final Year
January 5, 2008
WASHINGTON—As his last term in office winds to a close, President Bush has directed White House aids and Cabinet staff to begin preparing for 2008, the nation’s 232nd and final year in existence.
“My fellow Americans, it has been an honor to be your last president,” said Bush during a televised address Tuesday, assuring citizens he would do everything possible over the next few months to promote a smooth transition into utter oblivion. “I want you all to know that I do not intend to let what precious little time we have left go to waste. That’s why I ask all citizens to pull together and follow me, so we can accomplish everything we’ve ever wanted to before it all crumbles around us in a terrible belch of smoke and ash.”
Added Bush, “It’s now or never, people. No regrets.”
As part of his ambitious 11-and-a-half-month plan, Bush has prioritized winning the War on Terror in order to secure Iraq’s stability in a world where the U.S. is nothing more than a fleeting memory. Additionally, he has urged Congress to block upcoming stem-cell legislation “just in case,” and has set aside the months of April and May to get in touch with all countries the U.S. has wronged in the past and apologize, and default on America’s $9.16 trillion dollar international debt with a wild spending spree, respectively.
A special executive committee has also been formed to draft the country’s final words.
In response to critics who claim Bush is a lame duck and plans to pass the responsibility of helplessly watching the collapse of society onto the next president, Bush said he is “still the commander in chief,” and remains dedicated to solidifying America’s legacy before the darkness takes hold.
“I am committed to making this the best damn Swan Song the world has ever seen,” said Bush, after enclosing a copy of the Constitution and a recipe for corn dogs in an air-tight titanium capsule to be placed just across the Canadian border. “I know this looks like the end—and it is—but I intend to go out with a bang. Now, who’s with me?”
The president held a special America Wrap-Up press conference with members of the international press earlier today, where he spoke frankly with reporters and gave out long, heartfelt hugs. Bush also took time from his hectic schedule of staring blankly into the gaping maw of absolute dissolution to reflect on the country’s past and look forward to its 281-day future.
“Our great nation will be a shining, then blinking, then slowly fading beacon to the world,” Bush said. “As our time as a sovereign country with borders and currency comes to a close, let us hope we will be remembered for all the great things we accomplished, and not for the 1960s.”
“We sure did have some good times, didn’t we?” Bush added.
To help the members of Congress pass the time until both houses are a jagged shell of concrete and marble, looted of valuables by roving bands of nomadic warlords to sell for spears and kerosene, Bush submitted to the Senate a short list of what he called “Dream Projects” to be carried out in the tenuous weeks following Dec. 9, 2008. The nation’s last acts include approving one final all-encompassing tax break, launching a nationwide skydiving initiative, reducing carbon emissions by 1 percent over the next decade, and writing his memoirs.
Members of the Bush Administration have consulted with top officials from the CIA, the FBI, NASA, the USDA, the Centers for Disease Control, noted scholars on the myth of Narcissus, a Chernobyl survivor, and the International Atomic Energy Agency to determine if the U.S. will indeed have time to carry out its final wishes. Bush, however, has instructed all Americans “not to get [their] hopes up.”
The Democrats, who will hold a majority in the House and Senate until the rule of law is supplanted by an especially savage series of blood feuds, have promised to work with the president for whatever it’s worth.
“None of that matters now, don’t you see?” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said. “What will it matter how many Kyoto Protocols we didn’t sign or whether we’re going to invade Iran in March? Have any of you ever seen a sunset—I mean really seen it?”
While Congress continues to assist the president as we hurdle toward what is known in Norse mythology as Ragnarök or “Doom of the Gods,” some have expressed anger at Washington’s perceived unwillingness to take action in the face of the coming wall of fire.
“Are we just going to sit back and wait for January?” said Chelsea Furlong, a Tennessee resident and uninsured mother of three. “That’s going to take forever. My branch is closing next month—can’t we just get it over with then?”
Conservative pastor urges buying Microsoft stock to fight its gay rights efforts
January 8, 2008
By ANDREA JAMES
A conservative Christian pastor plans to launch a high-profile campaign Tuesday urging religious followers to load up on Microsoft Corp. stock, in an attempt to force the company to “stop financing ungodly ventures.”
The Rev. Ken Hutcherson, who leads Antioch Bible Church in Microsoft’s hometown of Redmond, says that he will create a global and powerful group to promote traditional family values, including marriage exclusively between a man and a woman.
Hutcherson, joined by some of the country’s most influential Christian leaders, has created a new organization, AGN Financial Network, to finance the effort. The worldwide venture asks people to buy three shares of company stock and donate one to AGN. Its Web site tells visitors, “You have the power to change the world,” and contains tips on how to open a brokerage account. Among the listed supporters are Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and religious pundit Gary Bauer.
“We’re not trying to hurt Microsoft or their shareholders, nor are we calling for a boycott of their products,” volunteer spokesman Dennis Sullivan said. “We are trying to get Christians to buy their shares.”
It’s unclear what effect, if any, the initiative could have on the stock price. It would be difficult to influence company direction — just to gain a 1 percent stake in Microsoft, about 31 million people would each have to spend $104 to buy three shares. Microsoft has about 9.36 billion outstanding shares, and its largest holder is Chairman Bill Gates, with 858 million shares, or 9 percent of the total. Capital Research and Management Co. follows with nearly 557 million shares, or 6 percent.
At Microsoft’s annual shareholder meeting in November, Hutcherson told the group that he was gathering evangelicals, Catholics, Jews and Muslims to challenge the company.
He told company leaders, “I could work with you, or I could be your worst nightmare, because I am a black man with a righteous cause, with a host of powerful white people behind me,” according to an e-mail update to his supporters. “I hope to hear from you and if not, you will hear from me.”
Microsoft leadership has publicly supported gay rights legislation, and the company officially opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation. Microsoft shareholders have voted in favor of the company’s nondiscrimination policy, General Counsel Brad Smith said.
The company was one of the first to offer employee benefits to same-sex domestic partners, according to its employee resource group GLEAM, which stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Employees at Microsoft. The group, founded in 1993, has more than 700 members.
“Our company policies are well-known and supported by over 97 percent of our shareholders when it was voted upon in a shareholder resolution, and we just have no comment on this,” Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos said.
What the company does “within its four walls” is its own business, Hutcherson told the Seattle P-I on Monday. He objects to Microsoft’s, and many other companies’, influence on public policy.
“That’s when I got upset at Microsoft, when they came down to Olympia … I said, ‘Wait a minute, what are you doing down here trying to make your own policy state policy?’ ”
In 2005, Microsoft supported, then withdrew its support, and then supported again a state bill that would have barred sexual-orientation-based workplace discrimination. Though the bill ultimately failed, Microsoft was criticized by gay groups, The Stranger weekly newspaper and Microsoft employees for bowing to pressure from Hutcherson. When Microsoft changed back to its traditional gay-friendly stance, the company was criticized by the Christian right for overstepping its corporate boundaries.
Microsoft officials had met with Hutcherson, but denied being influenced by him.
In a May 2005 e-mail to employees, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said, “I expect everyone at this company — particularly managers — to take a hard look at their personal commitment to diversity, and redouble that commitment.”
Hutcherson said it’s not Microsoft’s job to influence the public agenda, and that it should be left to others, like him.
“That’s what my job is,” he said. “I’m a pastor.”
When asked whether the new initiative is a ploy to make money for his church, Hutcherson said, “Absolutely.”
“We’re going to need the finances to go to the next companies,” he said. “Anything you do successfully needs money.”
Hutcherson, who describes himself as a “creative, freckle-faced black philistine,” is a well-known and controversial figure in Western Washington; his church has 3,000 members. He said his battle is reminiscent of the biblical story of David versus Goliath.
When asked why he’s putting so much effort into this new venture, he said, “God will judge us one day, and I want to do everything it takes for him not to judge us on my watch.”
He wants AGN Financial’s vote to resonate with the Microsoft board, he said, and wake up shareholders.
“Oh, yes ma’am, we’re going after corporations,” he said. “Microsoft has the privilege of being first because we have a history,” Hutcherson said.
Iraqi Soldier Who Killed U.S. Troops is a Hero in Iraq
January 8, 2008
By Ali Al-Fadhily
The recent killing of two U.S. soldiers by their Iraqi colleague has raised disturbing questions about U.S. military relations with the Iraqis they work with.
On Dec. 26, an Iraqi soldier opened fire on U.S. soldiers accompanying him during a joint military patrol in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. He killed the U.S. captain and another sergeant, and wounded three others, including an Iraqi interpreter.
Conflicting versions of the killing have arisen. Col. Hazim al-Juboory, uncle of the attacker Kaissar Saady al-Juboory, told IPS that his nephew at first watched the U.S. soldiers beat up an Iraqi woman. When he asked them to stop, they refused, so he opened fire.
“Kaissar is a professional soldier who revolted against the Americans when they dragged a woman by her hair in a brutal way,” Col. Juboory said. “He is a tribal man, and an Arab with honor who would not accept such behavior. He killed his captain and sergeant knowing that he would be executed.”
Others gave IPS a similar account. “I was there when the American captain and his soldiers raided a neighborhood and started shouting at women to tell them where some men they wanted were,” a resident of Mosul, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS on phone. “The women told them they did not know, and their men did not do anything wrong, and started crying in fear.”
The witness said the U.S. captain began to shout at his soldiers and the women, and his men then started to grab the women and pull them by their hair.
“The soldier we knew later to be Kaissar shouted at the Americans, ‘No, no,’ but the captain shouted back at the Iraqi soldier,” the witness told IPS. “Then the Iraqi soldier shouted, ‘Let go of the women, you sons of bitches,’ and started shooting at them.” The soldier, he said, then ran off.
The Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni organization, issued a statement saying the Iraqi soldier had shot the U.S. soldiers after he saw them beat up a pregnant woman.
“His blood rose and he asked the occupying soldiers to stop beating the woman,” they said in the statement. “Their answer through the translator was: ‘We will do what we want.’ So he opened fire on them.”
The story was first reported on al-Rafidain satellite channel. That started Iraqis from all over the country talking about “the hero” who sacrificed his life for Iraqi honor.
The U.S. and Iraqi military told a different version of the story.
An Iraqi general told reporters that Kaissar carried out the attack because he had links to “Sunni Arab insurgent groups.”
“Soldier Kaissar Saady worked for insurgent groups who pushed him to learn army movements and warn his comrades about them,” a captain of the second Iraqi army division told IPS. “There are so many like him in the army and now within the so-called Awakening forces (militias funded by the U.S. military).”
One army officer speaking on condition of anonymity described Kaissar’s act as heroic. “Those Americans learned their lesson once more.”
Sheikh Juma’ al-Dawar, chief of the major al-Baggara tribe in Iraq, told IPS in Baghdad that “Kaissar is from the al-Juboor tribes in Gayara — tribes with morals that Americans do not understand.”
The tribal chief added, “Juboor tribes and all other tribes are proud of Kaissar and what he did by killing the American soldiers. Now he is a hero, with a name that will never be forgotten.”
Many Iraqis speak in similar vein. “It is another example of Iraqi people’s unity despite political conspiracies by the Americans and their tails (collaborators),” Mohammad Nassir, an independent politician in Baghdad told IPS. “Kaissar is loved by all Iraqis who pray for his safety and who are ready to donate anything for his welfare.”
Col. Juboory said Kaissar who had at first accepted collaboration with the U.S. forces “found the truth too bitter to put up with.” The colonel said: “I worked with the Americans because being an army officer is my job, and also because I was convinced they would help Iraqis. But 11 months was enough for me to realize that starving to death is more honorable than serving the occupiers. They were mean in every way.”
Independent sources have since told IPS that Kaissar was captured by a special joint Iraqi-U.S. force, and he is now being held and tortured at the al-Ghizlany military camp in Mosul.
Despite a recent decline in the number of occupation forces being killed, 2007 was the deadliest year of the occupation for U.S. troops, with 901 killed, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Adobe, Omniture in hot water for snooping on CS3 users
December 31, 2007
By David Chartier
It all began with a post at UNEASYsilence titled “Lies, Lies and Adobe Spies” which caught on to the fact that Adobe CS3 apps were calling out to a suspiciously-crafted IP address. As it turns out, the IP in question—192.168.112.2O7.net (note the capital O instead of a zero)—is not an IP at all, but rather a domain owned by statistics-tracking firm Omniture.
Criticism and conspiracy theories quickly erupted across the web, calling for an answer from Adobe over what looked like a clear invasion of privacy crafted to look like a typical local IP address. The holidays aren’t always the best time to ask a corporation as large as Adobe for an answer on issues like this, but Photoshop product manager John Nack came to at least a preliminary rescue. Across a couple of posts at his official Adobe blog, Nack took it upon himself to dig into the matter.
According to Nack’s investigation, Adobe’s CS3 apps call out to Omniture’s services to track a few usage statistics across Adobe products. Specifically, only three things are tracked: the news items presented in some apps’ welcome screens, Adobe-hosted content loaded in Bridge’s implementations of Opera and Flash Player (Bridge is the asset management component of Creative Suite), and Adobe online help systems like forums and the Exchange service, but only upon a user’s request.
As for the suspicious nature of Omniture’s faux-IP URL, Nack is less sure. He also agrees with users’ concerns over the matter and says he’s doing his best to find out more. It is likely, however, that Omniture is not returning Nack’s calls just as it isn’t returning Ars Technica’s, again probably due to holiday vacations. Other theories postulate that the URL crafting is both a technical and social engineering attempt to fool curious users and firewalls that might use some kind of wild card to allow 192.168.* requests. An underhanded tactic to be sure, but one that would allow Omniture to continue collecting usage statistics from many of Adobe’s users.
Adding fuel to the fire, Omniture’s own explanation of the “2o7.net” domain (note the lowercase “o” in Omniture’s usage) explains absolutely nothing about the disguising of the domain its clients’ products call. Even worse, Omniture’s opt-out method only covers individual web browsers, not applications. Neither Adobe nor Omniture offer an opt-out method that covers Creative Suite 3 applications, forcing power users concerned over this issue to add the specific Omniture URL to a firewall or other monitoring utility such as ObDev’s Little Snitch. Needless to say, this isn’t exactly as user-friendly as a splash screen check box, or even an application preference.
There’s a lesson to be learned from this latest marketing and privacy snafu, and Adobe and Omniture had better be taking notes. Omniture is clearly at fault—and still owes consumers an explanation—for trying to sneak this URL into clients’ products, and Adobe can’t be short on alternatives for product statistics tracking. One of the oddest things about the whole situation is that the outcry has focused on the crafty URL and not the stats tracking, suggesting that many CS3 users are used to companies watching (anonymously) over their backs. But no one likes wool, even digital wool, being pulled over their eyes or their routers.