Saturday, April 4, 2009

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Newt Gingrich: A Single Nuke Could Destroy America

Newsmax.com


Newt Gingrich: A Single Nuke Could Destroy America

Sunday, March 29, 2009 4:23 PM

By: Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen

A sword of Damocles hangs over our heads. It is a real threat that has been all but ignored.


On Feb. 3, Iran launched a "communications satellite" into orbit. At this very moment, North Korea is threatening to do the same. The ability to launch an alleged communications satellite belies a far more frightening truth. A rocket that can carry a satellite into orbit also can drop a nuclear warhead over any location on the planet in less than 45 minutes.


Far too many timid or uninformed sources maintain that a single launch of a missile poses no true threat to the United States, given our retaliatory power.

A reality check is in order and must be discussed in response to such an absurd claim: In fact, one small nuclear weapon, delivered by an ICBM can destroy the United States by maximizing the effect of the resultant electromagnetic pulse upon detonation.


An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a byproduct of detonating an atomic bomb above the Earth's atmosphere. When a nuclear weapon is detonated in space, the gamma rays emitted trigger a massive electrical disturbance in the upper atmosphere. Moving at the speed of light, this overload will short out all electrical equipment, power grids and delicate electronics on the Earth's surface. In fact, it would take only one to three weapons exploding above the continental United States to wipe out our entire grid and transportation network. It might take years to recover from, if ever.


This is not science fiction. If you doubt this, spend a short amount of time skimming the Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack from April 2008. You will come away sobered.


Even as the new administration plans to spend trillions on economic bailouts, it has announced plans to reduce funding and downgrade efforts for missile defense. Furthermore, the United States' reluctance to invest in a modern and credible traditional nuclear deterrent is a serious concern. What good will a bailout be if there is no longer a nation to bail out?


Fifty years ago, it was not Sputnik itself that sent a dire chill of warning around the world; it was the capability of the rocket that launched Sputnik. The rocket that lofted Sputnik into orbit also could have served as an ICBM.


Yet for all its rhetoric, the Soviet Union was essentially a rational power that recognized the threat of mutual destruction and thus never stepped to the edge.


The world is different today. Intercontinental range missiles tipped with nuclear weapons in the hands of leaders driven by fanaticism, leaders that support global terrorism, leaders that have made repeated threats that they will seek our annihilation . . . can now at last achieve that dream in a matter of minutes.


Those who claim that there is little to fear from Iran or North Korea because "at best" they will have only one or two nuclear weapons ignore the catastrophic level of threat we now face from just "a couple" of nuclear weapons.


Again: One to three missiles tipped with nuclear weapons and armed to detonate at a high altitude — to achieve the strongest EMP over the greatest area of the United States — would create an EMP "overlay" that triggers a continent-wide collapse of our entire electrical, transportation, and communications infrastructure.


Within weeks after such an attack, tens of millions of Americans would perish. The impact has been likened to a nationwide Hurricane Katrina. Some studies estimate that 90 percent of all Americans might very well die in the year after such an attack as our transportation, food distribution, communications, public safety, law enforcement, and medical infrastructures collapse.


We most likely would never recover from the blow.


Two things need to be done now and without delay:


1. Make clear in the strongest of terms that, if either Iran or North Korea launches a rocket on a trajectory headed toward the territory of the United States, we will shoot it down. The risk of not doing so is beyond acceptable. And if they construe this as an act of war, so be it, for they fired the first shot. The risk of sitting back for 30 minutes and praying it is not an EMP strike is beyond acceptable, beyond rational on our part.


2. Funding for EMP defense must be a top national priority. To downgrade or halt our missile defense program, which at last is becoming viable after 25 years of research, would be an action of criminal negligence.


Surely, with such a threat confronting us, a fair and open debate, with full public access and the setting aside of partisan politics, is in order. In the meantime, a policy must be stated today that we will indeed shoot down any missile aimed towards the United States that is fired by Iran or North Korea. America's survival, your survival, and your family's survival might very well depend on it.


Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. William Forstchen is the author of "One Second After," an account of a town struggling to survive after an EMP weapon is used against the United States.


[Editor's Note: Get William Forstchen's book depicting a nuclear EMP attack, "One Second After" — Go here now.]










© 2009 Newsmax. All rights reserved.




Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bilderbergers excite conspiracists


Bilderbergers excite conspiracists
By: Kenneth P. Vogel
March 15, 2009 06:53 AM EST

The highest levels of the Obama administration are infested with members of a shadowy, elitist cabal intent on installing a one-world government that subverts the will of the American people.

It sounds crazy, but that's what a group of very persistent conspiracy theorists insists, and they point to President Obama's nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, as the latest piece of evidence supporting their claims.

It turns out that Sebelius – like top administration economists Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers and Paul Volcker, as well as leading Obama diplomats Richard Holbrooke and Dennis Ross – is a Bilderberger. That is, she is someone who has participated in the annual invitation-only conference held by an elite international organization known as the Bilderberg group.

The group, which takes its name from the Dutch hotel where it held its first meeting in 1954, exists solely to bring together between 100 and 150 titans of politics, finance, military, industry, academia and media from North America and Western Europe once a year to discuss world affairs. It doesn't issue policy statements or resolutions, nor does it hold any events other than an annual meeting.

Past participants have included Margaret Thatcher, who attended the 1975 meeting at Turkey's Golden Dolphin Hotel, former media mogul Conrad Black, who has been to more than a dozen conferences, and Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, King Juan Carlos of Spain and top officials of BP, IBM, Barclays and the Bank of England.

It is precisely that exclusive roster of globally influential figures that has captured the interest of an international network of conspiracists, who for decades have viewed the Bilderberg conference as a devious corporate-globalist scheme.

The fulminating is aggravated by Obama's preference for surrounding himself with well-credentialed, well-connected, and well-traveled elites. His personnel choices have touched a populist, even paranoid nerve among those who are convinced powerful elites and secret societies are moving the planet toward a new world order.

Their worldview, characterized by a deep and angry suspicion of the ruling class rather than any prevailing partisan or ideological affiliation, is widely articulated on overnight AM radio shows and a collection of Internet websites.

The video sharing website YouTube alone is home to thousands of Bilderberg-related videos.

"I don't laugh at the people who claim that they understand the connections, but I've never really spent much time tracing that through," said Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a former presidential candidate whose libertarian sensibilities have made him a darling of the Bilderberg conspiracists.

"The one thing that concerns me is that the people who surround Obama or Bush generally come from the same philosophic viewpoint and they have their organizations – they have the Trilateral Commission, the CFR [Council on Foreign Relations] and the Bilderbergers, and they've been around a long time. And my biggest concern is what they preach: Keynesian economics and interventionism and world planning," he said.

While it's easy to dismiss the Bilder-busters as cranks, these voices have a way of making themselves heard on the margins of the debate in ways that can prove to be a real, if minor, distraction to Obama's political team. Bill Clinton had trouble shaking rumors that he was behind a shady criminal syndicate operating out of the Mena airport. George W. Bush was sometimes portrayed as the puppet of clandestine Middle Eastern oil interests.

Obama's selection of numerous Bilderbergers for key posts "certainly would verify their suspicions," said Paul, referring to fears of the group's influence.

"And I don't think it's just Obama. Whether it's the Republicans or the Democrats – Goldman Sachs generally has somebody in treasury. And the big banks generally have somebody in the Federal Reserve. And they're international people, too. And they're probably working very hard this weekend, with the G20. And they get involved in the IMF. But that is their stated goal. They do believe in a powerful centralized government and we believe in the opposite."

One popular website, "Prison Planet," greeted Sebelius' nomination with the headline "Obama Picks Bilderberger for Health Secretary."

It's obvious why Bilderberg is a frequent target of conspiracy theorists, who've credited it with anointing aspiring presidents, selecting their running mates, creating the European Union and instigating the war in Iraq and the bombing of Serbia, among other coups.

Bilderberg meetings are closed to the press, participants are asked not to publicly discuss the proceedings and the attendee list is only occasionally released. As a result, the group has come to be viewed as a more publicity-shy cousin to the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations – other influential international think tanks that are staples of fringe group conversation.

Unlike Bilderberg, though, those organizations have opened their proceedings to public scrutiny, maintain websites and have long listed their members.

The Bilderberg group, in a rare press release last year, laid out a benign if vague mission: creating "a better understanding of the complex forces and major trends affecting Western nations."

"Bilderberg is a small, flexible, informal and off-the-record international forum in which different viewpoints can be expressed and mutual understanding enhanced," read the press release, which noted that a list of participants would be available by phone request between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM on the second and third days of the conference.

The Bilderberg conspiracists first pounced on the Obama connection during the 2008 campaign, when news leaked in May that the candidate, who at the time was closing in on the Democratic presidential nomination, had initially tapped former Fannie Mae chairman Jim Johnson, a top Bilderberger, to help him select a running mate.

IRS filings show that Johnson as recently as 2006 was the treasurer of a non-profit group called American Friends of Bilderberg. The group has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to pay for meetings--including $125,000 in total contributions from Bilderberg stalwarts Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller in 2005 and 2006 plus $25,000 in 2005 from the Washington Post, whose chairman Don Graham has attended in the past.

Johnson did not return a message inquiring about his role at Bilderberg.

"The news further puts to rest any delusions that Bilderberg is a mere talking shop where no decisions are made," reported Prison Planet. "It also ridicules once again any notion that an Obama presidency would bring 'change' to the status quo of America being ruled by an unelected corporate and military-industrial complex elite."

One month later, in June, Johnson was joined at the 2008 Bilderberg meeting by Geithner, Holbrooke, Summers and Ross, as well as Obama's first choice for HHS secretary, Tom Daschle, and Sebelius, who at the time was included on some short lists of prospective Obama running mates and who also attended the 2007 meeting in Istanbul, Turkey.

According to the Bilderberg press release, the meeting was designed to "deal mainly with a nuclear free world, cyber terrorism, Africa, Russia, finance, protectionism, US-EU relations, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Islam and Iran." Approximately two-thirds of the 140 expected attendees came from Europe, according to the release, and the rest from North America.

Had the meeting been held outside the United States, that might have been the end of the Obama angle. But the conference, which took place from June 5 through 8, was held at a heavily guarded hotel in Chantilly, Va. in suburban Washington—coincidentally overlapping with an Obama campaign event in the area.

While Obama's schedule indicated he was to fly home to Chicago for the weekend—and journalists were herded on a campaign plane under the impression they were headed there along with Obama—the future president slipped away for a private meetings and never actually boarded the flight.

As it turned out, Obama secretly met that evening with Hillary Rodham Clinton in Washington, D.C., but not before raising alarms among the Bilder-busters, who were convinced something was rotten in Chantilly.

Prison Planet connected the dots and concluded Obama and Clinton met at the Bilderberg meeting, declaring that "the complete failure of the mainstream media to report on the fact, once again betrays the super-secretive nature and influential reputation that the 54-year-old organization still maintains."

"It is now seems increasingly likely that the secret meetings with Bilderberg this weekend will herald the decision to name Hillary Clinton as Obama's VP candidate," predicted a sister site, Infowars.net.

Even the snarky D.C.-based Wonkette blog weighed in, half-seriously positing that "really, it sounds like" Obama and Clinton rendezvoused "at that creepy Bilderberg Group meeting, which is happening now, and which is so secret that nobody will admit they're going, even though everybody who is anybody goes to Bilderberg."

Curiously, though, the episode wasn't the first time a Bilderberg meeting intersected with vice presidential selection machinations.

In 2004, both Time magazine and the New York Times noted that then-Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C) had impressed Bilderbergers at that year's conference in Stresa, Italy—roughly one month prior to his selection as Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) running mate-- when Edwards debated Republican Ralph Reed. Then, as in 2008, Jim Johnson led the vice presidential vetting.

Time reported that then-Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) and Holbrooke attended and called Kerry "with rave reviews" about Edwards' debate skills.

In its tick-tock of the vice-presidential selection process, the New York Times also noted the Bilderberg effect.

''His performance at Bilderberg was important,'' a friend of Kerry told the Times. ''He reported back directly to Kerry. There were other reports on his performance. Whether they reported directly or indirectly, I have no doubt the word got back to Mr. Kerry about how well he did.''

An attendee of the 2004 meeting dismissed the notion that Edwards' Bilderberg performance helped land him on the Democratic ticket.

"It wasn't because of his performance at the meeting – he was at the meeting because he was going to get picked" said the attendee, who did not want to be identified breaching Bilderberg's off-the-record rule. "He was there as a surrogate for Kerry" and to boost his foreign policy bona fides, said the attendee.

Either way, the attendee contended, the Bilderberg conspiracy theories don't make sense on their face, if only because the wide array of ideologies represented would make it difficult to reach consensus.

"There were so many different people there with so many different viewpoints that it belied the opportunity to really conspire, because obviously a Kissinger and a [prominent neoconservative Richard] Perle are going to come down in a very different place than say a Holbrooke or a Johnson," the attendee said.

Besides, the attendee observed, it's almost impossible to name a Bilderberger-free Cabinet.

"You'd be hard pressed to find an administration that hasn't reached into those ranks into the last 20, 30, 40 years. "

© 2009 Capitol News Company, LLC




Friday, March 13, 2009

Google Voice Could Be a Game Changer


Google Voice Could Be a Game Changer
By Andrew Berg
WirelessWeek - March 13, 2009

There are rumblings that Google Voice could change the telecom industry in fundamental ways. A new Google-based voice service combined with the sheer size of the company's existing user base is raising some eyebrows around the industry.

"I think the implications are pretty far reaching … Anyone who is using Gmail can initiate a free voice call from their computer using whatever phone you want," says Hal Steger, vice president of marketing for Funambol.

The technology being used has been employed by JahJah for years. The user enters the number for the phone they'd like to use and the number for the phone they'd like to call and the service simultaneously rings both numbers, placing a free voice call.

Yesterday, Google said the service is open to Grand Central users and should be available to the general public within the near future. The company did not give a definitive timeline for general release.

Google bought Grand Central, an Internet-based voice service, back in July of 2007. Since then, it's been using Grand Central as a starting point for the evolution of Google Voice.

The new service provides users with one life-long "uni-number" that links to all the user's other phone numbers (such as landline, cell, work, hotel). One call to that single Google Voice number can ring a handful of lines.

Google says the service will offer free transcription and search of voicemails, free U.S. calls, Web-based filing and browsing of text messages, call blocking and filtering features, free conference calls, as well as incredibly cheap international calls (2-3 cents per minute).

Skype may be the first to feel the impact. Google Voice differs from Skype in that it isn't a VoIP solution but rather Internet-based telephony. But the extent of Google's service and the breadth of offerings far exceed those currently offered on the Skype service. International rates also will be cheaper than those on Skype.

Skydeck, a service that is almost identical to the one Google is rolling out, may see increased competition as well. Skydeck was a 2009 SXSW Technical Achievement Web Awards Finalist and was given the Boldest Idea award at MobileBeat in 2008. The service is currently available for $9.95 per month. If Google's service is free, where does that leave a small start-up like Skydeck?

But if services such Skype and Skydeck are feeling Google's shadow, operators are undoubtedly watching carefully as well. "The broader implications for the mobile industry is that Google is starting to encroach on the turf of the mobile operators. They're starting to provide voice capabilities," Steger says.

Steger doesn't see any immediate regulatory backlash in the near future, but he did say that things could get interesting down the line. "If it gains a lot of momentum in the market … then I think you're going to hear a lot of bellyaching from mobile operators around the world about how Google is affecting their business," he says.

Steger sees the Android platform as being affected as well. Because Android is essentially a free platform and developers will be able to cheaply integrate the new Google Service on Android handsets, operators may shy from carrying those handsets on their networks.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Advertisers get a trove of clues in smartphones - Print Version - International Herald Tribune


International Herald Tribune
Advertisers get a trove of clues in smartphones
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The millions of people who use their cellphones daily to play games, download applications and browse the Web may not realize that they have an unseen companion: advertisers that can track their interests, their habits and even their location.

Smartphones, like the iPhone and BlackBerry Curve, are the latest and potentially most extensive way for advertisers to aim ads at certain consumers. Advertisers already tailor ads for small groups of consumers on the Web based on personal information. But cellphones have a much higher potential for personalized advertising, especially when they use applications like user-review sites like Yelp or Urbanspoon with GPS to identify a person's location, right down to the street corner where they are standing.

Advertisers will pay high rates for the ability to show, for example, ads for a nearby restaurant to someone leaving a Broadway show, especially when coupled with information about the gender, age, finances and interests of the consumer.

Eswar Priyadarshan, the chief technology officer of Quattro Wireless, which places advertising for clients like Sony on mobile sites, says he typically has 20 pieces of information about a customer who has visited a site or played with an application in his network. "The basic idea is, you go through all these channels, and you get as much data as possible," he said.

The capability for collecting information has alarmed privacy advocates.

"It's potentially a portable, personal spy," said Jeff Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, who will appear before Federal Trade Commission staff members this month to brief them on privacy and mobile marketing. He is particularly concerned about data breaches, advertisers' access to sensitive health or financial information, and a lack of transparency about how advertisers are collecting data. "Users are going to be inclined to say, sure, what's harmful about a click, not realizing that they've consented to give up their information."

For now, advertisers are using a wide lens to survey people's behavior on phones, aiming at people by city rather than by specific neighborhood or street.

And while they collect specifics about how someone behaves on the mobile Web — for instance, that someone bought a "Hot N Cold" ring tone after seeing an ad for it, then watched a Miley Cyrus video on TMZ.com — they use that information to categorize that person as a pop-culture fan, and then show a movie ad.

Advertisers are eager to use the information for much more specific targeting, however. An advertising system could know, for instance, that someone is 27 years old, male, a New England Patriots fan (which NFL.com can track), plays Blackjack, travels frequently between Boston and New York on weekdays (which applications using GPS can track) and uses a 3G iPhone. That would make him attractive to a host of advertisers, like the Delta Shuttle or a Las Vegas hotel, whose ads would appear while the consumer was browsing the Web on his phone.

"Everyone's in an arms race to find out more and more about their users," said Eric Bader, the managing partner of the mobile advertising firm Brand in Hand. Even application developers are handing over information about their customers to marketers. Dockers San Francisco, a brand of Levi Strauss, for instance, is beginning a campaign this week that will run on applications like iBasketball and iGolf. It will show a model wearing khakis, and the iPhone customer can shake the phone to see the model dance.

Dockers will start by tracking how long people shake the ad, and then "if it does make sense to do follow-up with these consumers, we'll do that," said Jonathan Haber, the United States director of Ignition Factory at OMD, the media agency directing the campaign. "We dig in, specifically, with these application developers and owners to get information about usage behavior."

It's not just behavior, but also data about income, or even whether you have children, that mobile advertisers consider. A company called Acuity Mobile, whose clients include the MGM Mirage and Harrah's Entertainment, lets clients use consumer data, including, potentially, income, to determine what kind of offers clients should see.

"Someone who does not spend a lot of money with your brand might get a lower-value offer, like a free dessert in Vegas, versus a free buffet" for a high roller, said Alan Sultan, the president and founder of Acuity Mobile.

Applications that use GPS can offer even more specificity, including Loopt, Yelp, Urbanspoon, Where and almost any iPhone application that shows the pop-up box saying it "would like to use your current location." Several firms are experimenting with a program called AisleCaster that can offer specials based on a person's exact location in a supermarket aisle or mall.

Advertising systems can track not only the location of the phone, but also that person's travel pattern: uptown New York to Nob Hill in San Francisco, for instance.

For now, systems like Quattro are using broad city-level categories while trying to sell to advertisers like Amtrak. "You don't want to necessarily go down to location-level stuff like specific street corners, because it wanders over into really creeping out the user privacy-wise," Priyadarshan said.

For now, there are not enough people using smartphones to make it worthwhile for advertisers to use highly specific criteria. But as more people switch to smartphones, that will happen more frequently. The smartphone market in North America increased 69 percent in 2008, according to the research firm Gartner. Google, Palm and BlackBerry are all introducing their own application stores. Despite the amount of data in the market, as long as advertisers don't use personally identifiable information, there is no current regulation or law that governs how closely advertisers and application developers can track mobile phone users. Opting out of mobile targeted advertising is difficult, and that's assuming consumers are even aware how closely they are being tracked.

"I didn't know they were doing that, although I'm not surprised to hear it," said Jordan Penn, 32, an affordable-housing developer in San Diego who has downloaded about 12 apps to his iPhone. "It doesn't really concern me any more than all of the other tracking that goes on when you access the Internet." Paul Schwartz, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and an information privacy law expert, said tracking by advertisers was problematic. "People should be allowed to trade most kinds of information for value as long as the terms are fair," he said. "They're not fair now."

Mike Wehrs, the chief executive of the Mobile Marketing Association, said the trade group was updating some of its self-regulatory principles, for example, suggesting that applications e-mail their privacy policies to subscribers rather than asking them to read a policy on the small mobile screen. "I agree there's more that can be done," he said. "One thing about mobile, it's an amazingly fast-moving industry."