Patterico's Pontifications

4/8/2008

Jay Rockefeller Disses McCain (Updated)

Filed under: 2008 Election,Politics — DRJ @ 10:00 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Today’s hot political topic were these less-than-complimentary statements by Jay Rockefeller about John McCain’s temper. JustOneMinute derides Rockefeller so I don’t have to, but my favorite part was this response to those “laser-guided missiles” that Rockefeller claims McCain used in Vietnam (amazing because they weren’t around yet * ):

“So, the Dem Chair of the Senate Intel Committee thinks we had laser guided weapons in VietNam. I wonder what else he has gleaned from various intel reports over the years.”

UPDATE: * This link says primitive laser-guided missiles requiring two planes were used by the Air Force in Vietnam but not until 1968, the year after McCain was shot down.

Hot Air discusses why Rockefeller’s statements also evidence a disdain for today’s military.

– DRJ

Carter May Meet Hamas Leader in Syria

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 8:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Fox News reports that former President Jimmy Carter may be planning to meet with Khaled Meshal, the exiled head of the Palestinian terror group Hamas:

“Former President Jimmy Carter is reportedly preparing an unprecedented meeting with the leader of Hamas, an organization that the U.S. government considers one of the leading terrorist threats in the world.

The Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported Tuesday that Carter was planning a trip to Syria for mid-April, during which he would meet with Khaled Meshal, the exiled head of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, on April 18.
***
Meshal, who lives in Syria to avoid being arrested by the Israeli government, leads Hamas from his seat in Damascus, where he is a guest of Bashar Assad regime.

The State Department has designated Hamas a “foreign terrorist organization,” and some groups hold Meshal personally responsible for ordering the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack once said of the prospect of meeting with Meshal, “That’s not something that we could possibly conceive of.”

Let’s hope this report is either untrue or, if true, that someone talks sense to Carter before he actually makes the trip.

– DRJ

Competition Among ID Thieves (Updated)

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 6:46 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Symantec announced the results of a survey that suggests identity thieves are having to work harder for their money because competition has increased:

“Fierce competition among identity thieves has driven the prices for stolen data down to bargain-basement levels, which has forced crooks to adopt mainstream business tactics to lure customers, according to a new report on Internet security threats.
***
Researchers said they found more evidence during the last six months of the year that Internet fraudsters are adopting mainstream tactics, including hiring teams of hackers to create new viruses and offering volume discounts on stolen data to encourage larger orders.

In some cases, stolen credit card numbers were sold in batches of 500 for a total of $200. That’s 40 cents each, less than half the price observed during the first half of 2007, when they were down to $1 apiece in batches of 100, according to the report.

Full identities — including a functioning credit card number, Social Security number or equivalent and a person’s name, address and date of birth – are going for as little as $100 for 50, or $2 apiece.”

Identity theft is apparently more profitable in Europe than the US:

“Certain identities are more alluring than others, according the report. Stolen identities of citizens of the European Union sell on the high end — for $30 — an average of 50 percent more than U.S. identities.

Researchers said the higher prices reflect the fact that the identities can be used in multiple countries, instead of just one. They added, however, that scarcity of a certain type of identity will drive up its price.”

Symantec released its report at a conference of security professionals this week in San Francisco. It was based on “malicious code gathered from more than 120 million computers running Symantec antivirus software and some 2 million decoy e-mail accounts that collect spam.”

I use Symantec products. I wonder what other information Symantec has gathered.

UPDATE 4/8/2008: For a change, here’s some good news for hackers, but not so good for the rest of us:

“One more tax-season dread: A week before the filing deadline, Treasury watchdogs said Monday that poor controls over IRS computers could allow a disgruntled employee, agency contractor or outside hacker to steal taxpayers’ confidential information.

Indeed, a hacker might even “gain full control of the IRS network,” said a report Monday from the office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.”

– DRJ

General Petraeus and Senator Cornyn’s Petition (Updated)

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 1:47 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Today in Congress, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker are testifying about Iraq and, at times, the hearing has been contentious:

“The senior commander of multinational forces in Iraq warned Congress Tuesday against removing “too many troops too quickly” and refused under stiff questioning to offer even an estimate of American force levels by the end of this year.

Those comments from Gen. David H. Petraeus were met by sharp criticism from a senior Democrat, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, that the Bush administration had adopted “a war plan with no exit strategy.”

UPDATE: Here’s a link to General Petraeus’ opening statement. Michelle Malkin has more and a roundup of links.

***

In a related matter, I was pleasantly surprised to get an email from Texas Senator John Cornyn asking me to sign a petition supporting General David Petraeus:

“Today, General David Petraeus will update the U.S. Senate on the amazing work being done by our troops in Iraq.

You might remember the last time General Petraeus appeared before the committee he was met with outright hostility by Democrats and their third party attack dogs. The liberal left wing attack group MoveOn.org even took out a full page ad in the New York Times calling him a traitor.

Democrats are hoping for more of the same this time around. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are actually taking time out from the campaign trail to make a rare appearance in Washington in an effort to score cheap political points with their liberal base.

Lets make sure this time is different.

Please sign this petition telling General Petraeus that we support the job that he and his troops are doing in Iraq.”

This strikes me as a simple, direct, and good thing to do. Thanks, Senator Cornyn.

– DRJ

Chuck Philips Will Stay at the L.A. Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:02 am

In an article about the L.A. Times‘s retraction of a Chuck Philips story based on forged documents, the New York Times reports that Philips will be staying on at the paper:

A spokeswoman for the newspaper said Mr. Philips, a Pulitzer Prize winner, would remain with the newspaper as an investigative reporter. She would not comment on whether any disciplinary measures had been taken.

Interesting. I had predicted otherwise. You, my readers, mocked me for this prediction, and you were right to do so.

Nevertheless, part of me is glad: namely, the part that still has a few Chuck Philips-related posts left to write.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have several questions to raise about Philips’s reporting. While these questions will always be relevant, they somehow seem more relevant now that we know Philips is staying.

The New York Times article quotes the man who broke the story about the forged documents, The Smoking Gun’s editor William Bastone, as saying he wants to know more about how this happened:

“In the recent history of journalism, when stories go really bad, the publication often does an explanation of how it happened,” Mr. Bastone said. “I’d like to know: How did this kid pull this off from behind bars?”

And I’d like to know how Philips’s story got published with so many deficiencies. Bill Wyman ticks off the story’s multiple failures of fact-checking:

[I]n the LAT Shakur story, the documents were faked; the main source was a loon; the paper seems not to have done anything like due diligence in investigating the character and record of the guy [mak]ing the allegations; it didn’t do due diligence to ascertain the documents it had were reliable; it used all of that evidence to smear the names of several other prominent people; and on top of that also seems to have smeared one of those folks further by reporting that he [had] done time for drug offenses.

(Emphasis in original.)

This goes way beyond merely getting duped by some fake documents. Wyman, a “former arts editor of NPR and Salon.com,” goes so far as to suggest that Philips’s story is “the worst journalistic screwup we have yet seen.”

I think that’s a touch hyperbolic as a description of this one story. But as a description of Philips’s years of rank advocacy for Suge Knight and against the lawsuit brought by the estate of Biggie Smalls? Not so much.

It is this years-long pattern of promoting Knight — while downplaying, distorting, and otherwise burying evidence of one of the most potentially explosive scandals in Los Angeles’s history — that The Times truly needs to re-examine.

And I am here to help. In coming days and weeks, WLS and I will present new evidence that should aid The Times in its investigation. Because what we really want is good journalism for the City of Los Angeles — the same thing that The Times claims to care about, and something that many of its members actually do care about. In other words, we want, quite simply, the truth.

I should add that the picture that is beginning to emerge from the evidence that we are examining does not begin and end with Chuck Philips. It is, not surprisingly, suggestive of broader, more systemic problems at this newspaper. These are the same problems that I have pointed out on this website for years: a tendency to explore and report only those facts that support a pre-ordained point of view.

So, as I say, stay tuned. Because we’re going to keep feeling our way towards the truth — whether the L.A. Times is interested or not.


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