Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

February 17, 2005

Europe says Hezbollah is not a Terrorist Group

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:59 pm

According to this article in the New York Times, the European Union is refusing to add Hezbollah to its list of terrorist groups. This in part in response to a formal request from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to do so. Not all European countries object — The Netherlands, Italy and Poland are supporting the American position. The opposition is led by France and includes Germany and Britain.

Hezbollah regularly sponsors suicide bombing in Israel and rocket attacks from bases in south Lebanon on towns in northern Israel. If they aren’t a terrorist group, what is? In particular, if Hezbollah is not a terrorist group, it’s hard to see how (say) al-Qaeda is one.

Why does this matter? As long as they are not designated as a terrorist group by the EU, Hezbollah can legally raise money in Europe for its operations. It is hardly a stretch to say that by refusing to list Hezbollah, the European Union is indirectly helping to fund terrorist operations.

Top Award for Inventors of the Internet

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:09 pm

The 2004 Turing Award, the so-called “Nobel Prize of Computing,” has been awarded to the inventors of the Internet — that is, to Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn, who developed the TCP/IP protocol that is the basis for all Internet communications (web, e-mail, etc.).

The $100,000 prize is sponsored by Intel and awarded by the Association for
Computing Machinery (ACM)
, the main professional organization for computer scientists.

No word on whether Al Gore plans to appeal. ;-)

(Hat tip: Slashdot.)

Clinton calls for voting rights for felons

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:57 pm

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has proposed allowing convicted felons to vote. She was joined at the press conference where she proposed this by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), as well as Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH).

I wonder what this says about (a) what these politicians think of their supporters, and (b) their positions on crime.

Unless they can articulate some reason why it is immoral to deny the vote to someone who (say) robs a bank, we can only conclude that (a) they think convicted felons are more likely to vote for them than for their opponents, and (b) once they add felons to their constituent base, they are less likely to support legislation that is “tough on crime,” since that would alienate some of their supporters.

Given that most (all?) of their current supporters are non-felons and are potential victims of felons, I can’t imagine how they think this will be a winning issue.

SHA-1 Broken

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:47 pm

Bruce Schneier reports that SHA-1, an algorithm used for computing (and authenticating) digital signatures, has been cracked. This is (potentially, if it pans out) a major setback for digital signatures. Click for details.

UPDATE (2/24/05 5:45pm):

Slashdot reported that:

The findings are that SHA-1 is not collision free and can be broken in 2^69 attempts instead of 2^80. This is about 2000 times faster. With todays computing power and Moores Law, a SHA-1 hash does not last too long. Using a modified DES Cracker, for the small sum of up to $38M, SHA-1 can be broken in 56 hours, with current computing power. In 18 months, the cost should go down by half. Jon Callas, PGP’s CTO, put it best: ‘It’s time to walk, but not run, to the fire exits. You don’t see smoke, but the fire alarms have gone off.’ As Schneier suggests, ‘It’s time for us all to migrate away from SHA-1.’ Alternatives include SHA-256 and SHA-512.”

So, I’m not particularly worried, but quite properly PGP is moving to a more secure version of the SHA algorithm.

This is a good argument for keeping your software upgraded.

What a Headline!

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:41 pm

Panda poo excites experts

www.chinaview.cn 2005-02-17 09:38:28

BEIJING, Feb. 17 — A study of giant panda poo in China had proved the endangered animals were expanding their horizons, Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

The faeces were found in Fengxian County, in Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, where giant pandas had not been seen since before the 1970s, it said.

In December, a farmer told the Fengxian County Wildlife Management Station he had spotted an animal that looked very much like a giant panda and had seen giant panda dung while collecting bamboo leaves on a mountain.

“Experts with the Shaanxi Provincial Wildlife Management Station confirmed that the dung was left by an adult giant panda,” Xinhua said.

“They ascribed the appearance of giant pandas in Fengxian County, located on the western section of Qinling Mountain, a major habitat for giant pandas, to the government’s strenuous efforts to restore and protect natural forest resources in the region over recent years.”

Giant pandas disappeared from Fengxian County before the 1970s because of the construction of a railway from Baoqi in Shaanxi to the capital city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province.

A project to protect the natural forest was startede in the area in 1999. The Shaanxi Provincial Government approved the establishment of the Wuliang Mountain Nature Reserve in 2002.

The number of pandas in the wild had soared by almost half to about 1,600 in just a few years, thanks to enlarged habitats and improved ecosystems, Xinhua said last month.

Chinese forestry officials said last year that pandas, notoriously fussy eaters and picky partners, were rebounding from the brink of extinction.

(Source: Shenzhen Daily-Agencies)

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