Via Bruce Schneier, a fourth undersea cable providing Internet connectivity to much of the Middle East has been cut in as many weeks:
The first three have been blamed on ships' anchors, but there is some dispute about that. And that's two in the Mediterranean and two in the Persian Gulf. There have been no official reports of malice to me, but it's an awfully big coincidence. The fact that Iran has lost Internet connectivity only makes this weirder.
This may not be more important than tonight's primary elections, but it may be important.
I have to thank Mike Huckabee for comic relief just now, too.
Via Bruce Schneier, apparently the physical security of British nuclear weapons until around 1998 consisted of, essentially, a bicycle key:
To arm the weapons you just open a panel held by two captive screws - like a battery cover on a radio - using a thumbnail or a coin.
Inside are the arming switch and a series of dials which you can turn with an Allen key to select high yield or low yield, air burst or groundburst and other parameters.
The Bomb is actually armed by inserting a bicycle lock key into the arming switch and turning it through 90 degrees. There is no code which needs to be entered or dual key system to prevent a rogue individual from arming the Bomb.
Oh. Well. Of course. Why use a hard-to-forge sequence of letters and numbers like the U.S. or U.S.S.R. when a little key will do?
So what prevented an accidental (or deliberate) British detonation until Tony Blair fixed the problem? Why, tradition, of course, what what!
The Royal Navy argued that officers of the Royal Navy as the Senior Service could be trusted: "It would be invidious to suggest... that Senior Service officers may, in difficult circumstances, act in defiance of their clear orders."
(Insert nervous laughter here.)
From this week's Economist, a strangely understated note:
The British army officially ended Operation Banner in Northern Ireland, its longest continuous operation. Soldiers were sent to the province in 1969 in what was intended to be a brief stint to quell sectarian violence. A garrison of 5,000 men will remain to offer support to the police.
More from the BBC about Tuesday's event:
The British army's operation in Northern Ireland came to an end at midnight after 38 years. Operation Banner—the Army's support role for the police—had been its longest continuous campaign, with more than 300,000 personnel taking part.
At the height of the Troubles, there were about 27,000 soldiers in Northern Ireland. From Wednesday, there will be no more than 5,000.
At 276,000 population, Belfast is about the same size as Raleigh, N.C., by the way.
These things are cool. For about $1,000 each, the Shelter Box Trust (Shelter Box USA here) provides shelter to people in disaster areas. They've distributed over 32,000 boxes to half a million people since 2001, including to Indonesia in December 2004 and New Orleans in August 2005.
Each is a 49-gallon box containing a tent, ten sleeping bags, cookware, water jugs (sans water) and other neccesities that people need immediately following a disaster.
Via Bruce Schneier, a former British military bomb-disposal operator offers some thoughts about the clowns who completely failed to bomb anything in the UK last week:
If these guys at the weekend really were anything to do with al-Qaeda, all one can really say is that it looks as though the War on Terror is won. This whole hoo-ha kicked off, remember, with 9/11: an extremely effective attack. Then we had the Bali and Madrid bombings, not by any measure as shocking and bloody but still nasty stuff. Then we had London 7/7, a further significant drop in bodycount but still competently planned and executed (Not too many groups would have been able to mix up that much peroxide-based explosive first try without an own goal).
Remember, this country carried on successfully for six years with hundreds—thousands, sometimes—of tons of explosives raining down on it every night for six years, delivered by very competent Germans who often died doing that job. The civilian death toll was around 60,000 according to most sources; the equivalent of 20 9/11s, more than three for every year of the war. Civilisation was not brought down. Germany and Japan withstood even greater violence, and survived it too.
Bruce Schneier asks: "Is there a Special Olympics for terrorists going on in the U.K. this week?"
Check out this short (3-minute) video from Talking Points Memo.
Sterling has reached $2. Last time I was in the UK, a Pound cost $1.52. Our economic policies have paid off, I see. (Only 642 days and 23 hours, at most, remain for those policies.)
The U.S. Olympic Committee has announced that Chicago will represent the U.S. in the competition to host the Olympic Games in 2016. Since the entire world universally loves the U.S. right now, I am certain today's announcement means Chicago is hosting the Olympics. Just not in 2016.
Four years. We weren't even in World War II for this long. I can't add anything really profound to the debate, but I will repeat something Garry Trudeau had on today's Doonesbury Daily Dose:
"America has been conducting an experiment for the past six years, trying to validate the proposition that it really doesn't make any difference who you elect president. Now we know the result of that experiment."
—Gen. Tony McPeak (retired), member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War
I would also like to point out that the recent spate of confessions from people our government has tortured might carry more weight if the men hadn't also confessed to assassinating the Archduke Ferdinand.
Finally, not that this should surprise anything, the New York Times is reporting today the White House watered down government reports to influence the debate on climate change:
In a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the official, Philip A. Cooney, who left government in 2005, defended the changes he had made in government reports over several years. Mr. Cooney said the editing was part of the normal White House review process and reflected findings in a climate report written for President Bush by the National Academy of Sciences in 2001.
No more than 672 days, 2 hours, and 44 minutes remain in the Bush Administration.