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Comment Re:What the fuck is going on? (Score 1) 292

These often require one to get involved in the very corruption that people decry within the US, only on a much more local scale. Many people in these areas must bribe their garbagemen to get regular service--when there are such services. Other than that, getting a government clerk to respond to a form within weeks or months often requires a bribe, getting the police to ignore you for something petty requires a bribe (and bribing them too low may result in much worse charges).

There are countries where someone can live quietly off the grid for a long time. I'm told that Belize is one of these countries. But for a modern technogeek, it gets much more difficult.

Comment Re:What the fuck is going on? (Score 4, Informative) 292

You can't win by moving to another country. As much as Germany got up in arms about the NSA spying on it, German intelligence agencies have also been found to be skirting their own laws regarding monitoring people. If you want to move you have to find a country that is:
* Not part of UKUSA (knocking out United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK)
* Not part of NATO (knocking from the list Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey)
* Not extremely friendly to or reliant on US intelligence assets (removing Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, Israel, and much of South America)
* Not part of the former Soviet Union (even Ukraine is working closely with Moscow these days)
* Not making a public point of monitoring its residents (China, India, and others)
* Still reasonably democratic and not horribly corrupt (seriously, US corruption has nothing on most of the world)

The list gets very small at this point. You have Finland and Sweden, but they're not trivial places to move to weather-wise unless you've lived in, say, Alaska or Maine, and Sweden may have been working with the NSA and/or monitoring its residents. Switzerland is also a possibility. But these require some very significant personal choices, involve massive lifestyle changes, and may not be possible as even the short list of nations that do fit the bill don't make immigration easy.

Comment Re:Why is he being extradited? (Score 5, Informative) 292

The bank account in Las Vegas means that he was paying for (and perhaps profiting from) the servers. That provides US jurisdiction no matter where the data was being stored. The same thing happens around the world: if part of an action happens within a given country and it's illegal in that country, jurisdiction applies. They may have to work through extradition, but in this case, France may also look to get a piece of him, especially if he's not convicted in the US. France may then go through extradition to get him into their courts for storing child porn on French soil.

Comment Re:So the FBI hacked servers to find pedos? (Score 5, Interesting) 292

If there's a court order behind this, it's less problematic in my mind. Not all court orders are publicized even by normal courts; search warrants aren't provided to the targets to challenge before execution precisely so they can't hide or destroy evidence.

The problem I have with this operation is that it was conducted on servers located in France, which means that either French law enforcement was also involved (very possible) or the FBI is hacking servers across international boundaries. That puts at risk any agents involved as they could be tried under French law for such trespass, though given that it was to deal with child pornography, the political result is that it probably wouldn't result in much more than a warning.

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 1) 185

Not all fleets keep their vehicles in the same spot. Rental car fleets are dispersed throughout the country. When new registrations come up, the cars have to be tracked down and pulled from service for the amount of time it takes for the registration sticker to be delivered. That's lost revenue, and since many fleets have tens of thousands of cars, it's a potential loss of millions of dollars.

Comment Hardly enough enough bodies . . . (Score 4, Funny) 176

. . . to fertilize King Barsoom II's lawn and flower gardens! MARS NEEDS MULCH!

But seriously: Initial training for the would-be colonists will consist of living for five years in trailer homes buried beneath the soil of Antarctica's "dry deserts." People who can't cope with the psychological pressure, or who are judged insufficiently entertaining by the casting group of the MARS LIVE! production company and its advertisers and charter sponsors, will be summarily kicked off of the program. (They will receive copies of the home game, which consists of a refrigerator box equipped with fake controls and a framed color print of a Mars probe landing site.)

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 2) 185

The article mentioned one possible practical use: fleet vehicles. As it stands, either tags have to be manually applied or plates changed out, and even done every so many years, this can become a management hassle for larger fleets. Electronic plates would, depending on their durability, remove this requirement. Many fleet vehicles are already tracked via data networks, so the privacy issues aren't as strong as for a personal vehicle and the ability to display a message indicating theft could be useful. Then, of course, there could also be ads for the fleet owner on it, but I think that's pushing into tacky territory.

I don't see this catching on, though, at least not for a while yet. The technical hurdles are just too high, and California has a history of not being able to implement their computer projects on time or budget. It will be a novelty for the trial period and then quietly go away when not enough people sign up for it.

Comment Re:I never understood the principle. (Score 1) 454

Chemical weapons are a problem because they usually do not kill. It takes a LOT of chemicals and the right environment to kill. But they do tear up lungs and eyes and nervous systems. So the casualties may be able to move themselves but they cannot pick up their old lives again.

I read somewhere that the overall cost of chemical weapons and conventional weapons per casualty work out to be the same. Chemical weapons on a per-round basis may be more effective (when used to the greatest tactical advantage, and a wind shift can affect that quickly), but the resource costs (additional training, transportation, storage, and protective costs) associated with chemical weapons neutralizes the advantage overall. That military foes will almost certainly already be trained and equipped to deal with a chemical attack further reduces their effectiveness.

Their only effective use remains as a terror weapon, or at best an area denial weapon on retreat to slow the enemy (it's much harder to move as quickly when you're wearing a mask and possibly other gear).

Comment ESPN is the key (Score 4, Insightful) 304

I think the biggest player that keeps people locked into subscription TV is ESPN, and they know it. Everything else can be found via acceptable delays whether it's Netflix/Hulu/whatever, DVD release, or even torrents. But most fans still strongly prefer to watch sports live.

Most people I know who still subscribe would gladly ditch cable/satellite if they could stream ESPN even if it cost $20/month, which is far more than ESPN gets from the cable companies and would allow them to offer features they can't run through non-interactive media. The number of people who have cut the cord (or know how to) hasn't reached critical mass yet, but once it does, ESPN is either going to be able to start dictating higher fees from cable companies or will take a shot at streaming (or both). I expect a strong drop in the cable/satellite subscriber base in the first year after this happens, which will be devastating to their share prices because jacking up rates to make up for lost revenues and profits will just encourage more people to leave.

Comment Re:Maybe overturning an election (Score 1) 381

I do have a fair idea of what Morsi was doing, and yes, he was trying to consolidate power for the Muslim Brotherhood. But much like every other opposition party who decried all of the things the party long in power was doing, he learned that calling for change and actually changing are two very different things.

In trying to take control of the military, he set himself up for failure. I mentioned the fuel and food shortages, and there is also Egypt's significant debt that requires payment from reserves it doesn't have. Had Morsi tried to work with the military, they might have tried to work with him to keep the population under control. As it was, when he started talking about reducing subsidies and people started protesting that (on top of everything else), the military intervened only when they deemed it in their interest, like protecting Morsi when the security forces he did control proved inadequate.

The military doesn't care too much who is running the government as long as it doesn't interfere with their own investments and power, which also means not abrogating the peace treaty with Israel (war is bad for their investments). They'll work with anyone who is willing to leave them alone and doesn't cause too much discontent among the populace. But this removes a large fraction of the people who would run and hence makes almost anyone else not viable in an election. There has been some speculation that Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will run for president, but this risks the military getting involved directly and openly in politics, something that it has been loathe to do. If he wins, he risks being seen as a Mubarak-like dictator running the government while cozy with--or completely controlling--the military, especially if he starts doing things the people don't like (like reducing subsidies). If he loses, he risks tarnishing the generally positive view the population has of the military.

I agree that this will probably go back and forth. I think it may at some point end up in a situation like Turkey: a nominally secular state with an overwhelmingly Muslim majority where the secular character is protected by the military, which steps in whenever the secular aspect is threatened. There would still be members of Islamic--and even Islamist--parties elected and even reaching the most senior jobs in government, but always with the risk of being deposed if they push too hard toward a religious state.

Comment Re:Maybe overturning an election (Score 2, Informative) 381

There was little to no chance of Morsi becoming a dictator. The military ultimately has the power in Egypt and has for decades. That the ruler has been cozy with the military and therefore safe has been the general rule. Morsi was not only not cozy but aggressively tried to sideline the military which made him unpopular with both the military and the people.

It doesn't matter who runs Egypt in the next few years. They're going to be unpopular because Egypt's economy is in a shambles largely due to excessive subsidies. They export oil but import gasoline because they don't have sufficient refining capacity, making fuel subsidies extremely expensive to maintain. They don't grow near enough grain to feed the population and have to import it at international market prices while subsidizing it to an enormous degree.

The military wants to keep the power but doesn't want to be the public face of it. They also don't want anyone remotely friendly with the insurgents in the Sinai in power (effectively ruling out Salafist candidates), and know that most secularists stand zero chance of doing anything more than spoiling a vote. This leaves the Muslim Brotherhood and allied smaller parties, which isn't really possible right now because they're boycotting anything political.

But in the absence of an overthrow of the military establishment (everyone from captains up and even most of the junior officers), the military isn't going anywhere, nor do about half the people want them to. They're seen as the protectors of the state, such as it is.

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