31 March 2016

Fwd: Kim Jon Pudge is at it again...


Sent from my new iPad

Begin forwarded message:

From: "ROBERT KELLEY" <kelleyinwestport@mail.com>
Date: March 31, 2016 at 17:23:38 EDT
To: "Mark Seymour" <mseymour@proofmark.com>
Subject: Kim Jon Pudge is at it again...

Probably a bad idea to issue dire threats to you only friend and supporter in the world...
By-the-by, neaux sneux predictions by the Wisconsin weather trolls.

More Hitlerian stuff

The New York Times has an article by Serge Kovaleski about a long-lost diary:

For almost six decades, it was missing, all four-hundred-plus revealing, handwritten pages. The diary of Alfred Rosenberg (photo, left, in trenchcoat and hat), a Nazi theorist whose views on race are thought to have helped incite Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, vanished after its author was convicted of war crimes and hanged at Nuremberg in 1946.
It would take two men, one a former FBI agent who specialized in recovering stolen art, the other a former chief archivist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, a dozen years to track down the elusive artifact, one of few known diaries by a member of Hitler’s inner circle.
Working with Federal investigators, they found it in 2013, in the offices of a publishing house in upstate New York, a place far more modest than the Bavarian castle atop a hill, Kloster Banz, where it had been first discovered in a vault after the war.
The recovery of the diary, now held by the Holocaust Museum, was announced three years ago. But the story of the hunt for it, of the tip that finally panned out, of the undercover work to track it and the crucial role played by Homeland Security investigators and a Federal subpoena, is now being discussed in a new book, The Devil’s Diary: Alfred Rosenberg and the Stolen Secrets of the Third Reich, by the former FBI agent, Robert K. Wittman, and the journalist David Kinney.
“It really was like catching a tiger by the tail, a big one,” Wittman said in an interview.
The diary starts in 1934 and spans a ten-year period in the life of Rosenberg, who had a sizable influence on Hitler (photo, center, in belted trenchcoat and hat), but was less well known than other aides like Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels, whose diary has also been found. Rosenberg also wrote The Myth of the Twentieth Century, a book that espoused Aryan supremacy and anti-Semitic beliefs, and was second in sales only to Hitler’s Mein Kampf during the Nazi period. Rosenberg, who was close in age to Hitler, also edited a Nazi newspaper and oversaw the widespread theft of art by the Nazis and the brutal occupation of the then-Soviet Union.
The diary has been published, in German, by the Holocaust Museum and a typed transcript, also in German, has been posted online by the museum, which said it hoped that it would be analyzed further by historians and other scholars. In the diary, Rosenberg recalls his conversations with Hitler. He recounts how he convinced Hitler that the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia was connected to a global conspiracy by Jews. For that reason, and others, Rosenberg wrote, the Jews were a threat to Germany.
The diary also reveals Rosenberg’s role in the deportation of German, Austrian, and Czech Jews, and shines a light on the infighting and struggles within the upper echelons of the Third Reich to secure Hitler’s favor.
“What led us to believe this was potentially of extreme historical importance,” said Henry Mayer, the archivist who tracked the diary with Wittman, “is the rarity of having a diary from someone of Rosenberg’s stature in the Nazi hierarchy and his close association with Hitler and his positions as looter-in-chief and murderer-in-chief and possibly a witness to the actual order from Hitler authorizing the Final Solution.”
Wittman noted, though, that while the diary documents the evolution of attitudes that would lead to the Holocaust, it does not detail the specific plan for it. “There is no place in the diary where we have Rosenberg or Hitler saying that the Jews should be exterminated,” he said. “All it said was ‘move them out of Europe.’”
The diary is considered Federal property, but investigators say Robert Kempner, a Nuremberg prosecutor, held onto it after the tribunal concluded. After Kempner’s death in 1993, his heirs turned over his papers to the Holocaust Museum but the diary was not among them.
After years of false leads, Mayer, who lost relatives in the Holocaust, said that, in 2012, he finally called again on Wittman, now retired from the FBI and an art security consultant, to see if he might make one last push to find it. Wittman pursued a tip that had come to Mayer from the sister of Kempner’s onetime secretary and mistress. The sister said she had overheard her sibling tell a German reporter that the diary had been given for safekeeping to a religious studies scholar, Herbert Richardson, who ran a publishing house in Lewiston, New York, about a twenty-minute drive from Niagara Falls.
Wittman said he went to the area, scouted around, and felt he had good reason to believe that Richardson might have the diary. He called in Homeland Security investigators, who traveled to see Richardson in February of 2013.
“He agreed to be interviewed, but he was not helpful,” said David Hall, a former Federal prosecutor who was involved in the case. According to Homeland Security reports, Richardson said he did not know where such a diary was. The investigators told him that possessing it was a potential crime and presented him with a grand jury subpoena for the diary, according to court records. “We suggested that he get a lawyer,” Hall said.
Weeks later, Richardson’s lawyers told Federal officials that the diary had been found.
In an interview, a lawyer for Richardson, Vincent Doyle III of Buffalo, New York, said that his client had not realized the diary was among a bunch of papers inside boxes that he had that were related to Kempner. Richardson found it, Doyle said, in a taped bag from a German store that was inside a box.
Richardson is a publisher and scholar and, if he knew that he had it, he probably would have published it,” Doyle said. The diary and some other papers were turned over to Federal officials in April of 2013.
Mayer said he still remembers the relief he felt after such a “tough slog” to find it.
“I kept telling myself, ‘Don’t let the bastards win,’” he recalled. “I felt a great deal of satisfaction. It was my white whale.”
Rico says some people don't know when to do the right thing, but sometimes get shown...

The FBI and hackers

The New York Times has an op/ed by Fred Kaplan about the hacking problem:

The United States Justice Department announced this week that it was able to unlock the iPhone used by the gunman in the San Bernardino, California shooting in December of 2015, and that it no longer needed Apple’s assistance. FBI investigators have not said how they were able to access the smartphone, but a law enforcement official said that a company outside the government had helped them hack into the operating system.

Should hackers help the government?
The question implies that all hackers are bad guys or anarchists. In fact, some are patriots; many want to do good, not harm; and all of them love a puzzle.
For the past twenty years, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have come to view some hackers as allies in the quest for cybersecurity. Many software companies pay bounties to hackers who find and exploit vulnerabilities in their programs, and dozens of professional hacking firms have risen up to meet the challenge.
Imagine the sheer sport of the FBI vs. Apple case: the FBI moans that it can’t crack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone without Apple’s assistance; Apple claims its phones are so secure, the slightest compromise could do grave damage. Watching this standoff, clever hackers worldwide mused: “Let me give this a try.” One firm of such hackers has now succeeded, and may have taken its solution to the FBI, not to Apple, because Apple is one of the few giants of Silicon Valley that does not pay bounties.
Hackers have not been absorbed into the system entirely. Some are bad guys who do commerce with criminals or foreign spies. Some among the “white-hat hackers” are too rebellious to collude with government; others, who have tried, are turned away and certainly denied security clearances, because they’ve illegally downloaded music or movies in their wayward youth (which, in some cases, may have been just a few months ago).
The government should relax its standards. It’s long been known that hacking is a major problem, not just to personal banking accounts, but to the nation’s critical infrastructure and the military’s command networks. Often the best way to beat hacking is with another hacker, someone who can find and patch the holes before a bad guy exploits them. A lot of hackers want to help; the government should do more to let them.
Rico says this is a long way from being resolved...

World War Two for the day

War History Online has an article about bad Nazis (as if there were any other kind):

The Third Reich, which lasted from 1933 to 1945, was one of if not the evilest regime in history. It attracted some of the most wicked characters who, given unprecedented power over life and death, made the killing of millions of people into state policy.
Some of the most infamous and evil Nazis that were responsible for the Holocaust include: 
Josef Kramer
In December of 1944, Kramer was transferred from Birkenau to Bergen-Belsen, which had originally served as a temporary camp for those leaving Germany but, during the war, had been expanded to serve as a convalescent depot for ill and displaced people from across northwest Europe. Although it had no gas chambers, Kramer’s rule was so harsh that he became known as the Beast of Belsen.
With the collapse of administration and many guards fleeing to escape retribution, roll calls were stopped, and the inmates were left to their own devices. Corpses rotted everywhere, and rats attacked the living too weak to fight them off.
Kramer remained even when the British arrived to liberate the camp, and took them on a tour of the camp to inspect the piles of corpses which lay all over the camp; mass graves were filled in, and the huts were filled with prisoners in every stage of emaciation and disease. He was convicted after the war and hanged in Hameln prison. 
Ilse Koch (photo, top, right)
In 1937, she came to Buchenwald when her husband was made Commandant. While at Buchenwald, Koch engaged in a gruesome experiment when she ordered selected tattooed prisoners to be murdered and skinned to retrieve the parts of their tattooed bodies.
Koch remained at Buchenwald until 24 August 1943. She was arrested after the war and sentenced to life in prison.  She committed suicide in 1967 by hanging herself. 
Hermann Göring
Göring was a veteran of World War One, the head of the Luftwaffe, and founder of the Gestapo. He stole millions of dollars worth of ˆ art, and amassed a personal fortune. He took part in the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, but, after being shot in the groin, became addicted to morphine.
After helping Adolf Hitler take power in 1933, he became the second-most powerful man in Germany. He founded the Gestapo in 1933, but later gave command of it to Heinrich Himmler. In July 1941, Göring issued a memo to Reinhard Heydrich, ordering him to organize the practical solution to the Jewish Question. By the time that this letter was written, many Jews and others had already been killed in Poland, Russia, and elsewhere. At the Wannsee Conference, held six months later, Heydrich formally announced that genocide of the Jews of Europe was now official Reich policy. Göring did not attend the conference, but was present at other meetings where the number of people killed was discussed. Göring was the highest ranking defendant at the Nuremberg trials, and was sentenced to hang. However, he committed suicide by taking cyanide the night before his hanging. 
Joseph Goebbels
Goebbels was known for his public speaking and deep and virulent anti-Semitism, which led to his supporting the extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust.
After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, GoebbelsPropaganda Ministry quickly gained and exerted controlling supervision over all news media, arts, and information in Germany. He was particularly adept at using the relatively new media of radio and film for propaganda purposes. Topics for party propaganda included anti-Semitism, attacks on Christian churches, and attempting to shape morale.
As the war drew to a close and Germany faced defeat, Magda Goebbels and the Goebbels children joined him in Berlin. They moved into the underground Vorbunker, part of Hitler’s underground bunker complex, on 22 April 1945. Hitler committed suicide on 30 April. In accordance with Hitler’s will, Goebbels succeeded him as Chancellor of Germany, only serving one day in this post. The following day, Goebbels and his wife committed suicide, after poisoning their six children. 
Adolf Eichmann
Eichmann was mainly in charge of organizing the mass deportation of the Jews from all countries.  He made sure they were all put into ghettos and concentration camps.  He was made a lieutenant colonel in the SS. Although the Jews had heard of Eichmann and the horrors he carried out, he learned Hebrew to manipulate the Jews into agreeing to the mass deportations.
After World War Two, he fled from Germany to Austria, and from there to Argentina.  However, he was captured in 1960 by an Israeli spy who worked for Mossad.  He was taken to Israel and executed by hanging in 1962 after a much-publicized trial. 
Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Kaltenbrunner, born in Austria, was chief of security for the Third Reich.  He replaced Reinhard Heydrich after he was killed by partisans.  He was president of the RSHA, the Reich Main Security Office, from 1943 to 1945.  He was given the duty to destroy any enemies within the Reich.
He was one of the main perpetrators of the Holocaust and was hanged after the Nuremberg trials on October 16, 1946, and was the highest ranked SS man to be hanged. 
Franz Stangl
Stangle, born in Austria, was a commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps.  In 1940, Heinrich Himmler gave Stangl the order to become the superintendent of the T-4 Euthanasia Program. This program was for mentally and physically handicapped people to be killed. Stangl once admitted that he had grown accustomed to killing Jews. He did not see prisoners as humans but as cargo.  He began seeing them as cargo when another Jew asked how to dispose of the “garbage” (meaning dead Jews).
Stangl ended up escaping Germany after the War, and was arrested in Brazil in 1967.  He was tried for the deaths of nearly a million people. He was given a life sentence and died in prison of heart failure in 1971.
Friedrich Jeckeln
Jeckeln was in charge of one of the largest collections of Einsatzgruppen and, alone, was responsible for the deaths over a hundred thousand Jews, as well as the murder of Slavs, Roma (gypsies), and other undesirables. Jeckeln used his methods to kill large numbers of people; they were eventually called the Jeckeln System. It was primarily used during the Rumbula, Babi Yar, and Kamianets-Podilskyi massacres. At Rumbula, Jeckeln watched on both days of the massacre as twenty-five thousand people were killed before him. Jeckeln proved to be an effective killer, who cared nothing about murdering huge numbers of unarmed and even naked men, women, children and the elderly. After the War he was tried and hanged in Russia on 3 February 1946.
Oskar Dirlewanger
Dirlewanger was a World War One veteran and led the SS Dirlewanger Brigade. The brigade was made up of some of the most vicious criminals in the ReichDirlewanger raped two thirteen-year-old girls on separate occasions in the 1930s.  He ended up losing his doctor title after being imprisoned.
He volunteered for the SS when World War Two started, and eventually was given a battalion. His unit was in charge of the operations against partisans in the then-Soviet Union  It is believed he and his soldiers tortured, raped, and murdered civilians; men, women, and children alike.  It is also said that he fed female hostages strychnine and made soldiers watch them die for entertainment.
Dirlewanger was captured in a French hospital after he was injured leading his soldiers into battle. The French handed him to Poland, which then locked him up, beat him, and tortured him for several days.  He ended up dying on 5 June 1945, from the injuries he endured from the Polish guards. 
Paul Blobel
Blobel was in charge of Sonderkommando 4a of Einsatzgruppe C during the German invasion of the then-Soviet Union.  Following the regular troops into the Ukraine, the Einsatzgruppen would have the responsibility of liquidating the political and racial undesirables.
One of the main massacres Blobel was in charge of was Babi Yar in Kiev.  There were almost sixty thousand executions.  At his trial, he admitted to having killed ten to fifteen thousand people. He was sentenced to death by the Nuremberg Military Tribunal during the Einsatzgruppen trials. He was hanged in the Landsberg Prison on 8 June 1951.
Odilo Globocnik
Globocnik was a well-known Austrian Nazi and was later given the title of SS leader.  He was responsible for the murders of millions of people during the Holocaust. He was mainly known for liquidating the Warsaw Ghetto, which at one time had over a half-million Jews. That ghetto happened to be one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe and the second in the world, New York City being the first.  He also liquidated the Bialystok Ghetto, which stood out for its resistance to German occupation. He was in charge of the supervision of the Lublin Ghetto to which a hundred thousand Jews were deported.  Adjacent to the reservation was a network of labor camps, and thus, he was also in charge of fifty thousand Jewish laborers.A few days after being captured he committed suicide by cyanide, which he had hidden in a capsule inside his mouth.
Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich was the Protector of Bohemia and Moravia.  In August of 1940, he was given the job of President of the RSHA, the Reich Main Security Office.
In October of 1941, Heydrich was the senior officer at a Final Solution meeting of the RHSA in Prague, Czechoslovakia, that discussed deporting fifty thousand Jews from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia to ghettos in Minsk and Riga. Given his position, Heydrich was instrumental in carrying out these plans, since his Gestapo was ready to organize deportations in the West, and his Einsatzgruppen were already conducting extensive killing operations in the East. He also chaired the Wannsee Conference in 1942, which discussed the deportation and extermination of all Jews on German territory.
He was given the unofficial title of the mastermind of the Holocaust.  Heydrich was attacked in Prague, Czechoslovakia on 27 May 1942 by a British-trained team of Czech and Slovak soldiers who had been sent by the Czechoslovak government-in-exile to kill him. He died from his injuries a week later.
After Heydrich’s death, the policies formalized at the Wannsee Conference he chaired were carried out. The first three true death camps, designed for mass killing with no legal process or pretext, were built and operated at Treblinka, Sobibór, and Bełżec. The project was named Operation Reinhard after Heydrich
Josef Mengele
Mengele gained his infamy by being one of the SS physicians who supervised the transporting of prisoners, and also was the one who had the final say in determining who would be killed and who would be forced into labor.
He is most known for all of the terrible experimentation done on the prisoners. After he had begun doing the experiments, he was given the name of the Angel of Death. When a hospital reported that every one of the prisoners had lice, he decided to gas all of the eight hundred women who had it.
Mengele used Auschwitz to continue his research and used the prisoners to test out his theory of heredity, and took a particular interest in identical twins. One particular experiment included taking out one twin’s eyeballs and putting them in the other, and vice versa. He also injected different colors into children’s eyes, amputated limbs, and performed other horrible surgeries. He ended up surviving the war and hiding in Germany. He eventually fled to South America, where he lived out his life, uncaptured. 
Adolf Hitler
Hitler was the leader of the Nazi Party (NSDAP), and the Führer, the dictator, of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. He was at the center of World War Two in Europe and the Holocaust.
Hitler sought Lebensraum (“living space”) for the German people. His aggressive foreign policy is considered to be the primary cause of the outbreak of World War Two in Europe. He directed large-scale rearmament and, on 1 September 1939, invaded Poland, resulting in British and French declarations of war on Germany. In June of 1941, Hitler ordered an invasion of the then-Soviet Union.
Under Hitler’s leadership and racially motivated ideology, the Nazi regime was responsible for the genocide of at least five million Jews and millions of others whom he and his followers deemed sub-humans and socially undesirable. Hitler and the Nazi regime were also responsible for the killing of an estimated twenty million civilians and prisoners of war. Also, thirty million soldiers and civilians died as a result of military action in Europe during World War Two. The number of civilians killed during the Second World War was unprecedented in warfare and constitutes the deadliest conflict in human history. On 30 April 1945, he committed suicide to avoid capture by the Red Army, and his corpse was burned outside his bunker in Berlin.
Heinrich Himmler
Many believe Hitler to be the biggest mass murderer of the Holocaust, but Himmler was worse. It is believed that the Holocaust would not have even happened if it had not been for Himmler, as Himmler was a main architect of the Holocaust, using his deep belief in racist Nazi ideology to justify the murder of millions of victims.
On Hitler’s behalf, Himmler formed the Einsatzgruppen and built extermination camps. After Heydrich was killed, Himmler took over leadership of the RSHA and stepped up the pace of the killing of Jews in Operation Reinhard, named in Heydrich’s honor. He ordered the Aktion Reinhard camps, the first extermination camps, to be constructed at Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka.
As facilitator and overseer of the concentration camps, Himmler directed the killing of some six million Jews, between two hundred thousand and half a million Rom (Gypsies), and other victims; the total number of civilians killed by the regime is estimated at eleven to fourteen million people. Most of them were Polish and then-Soviet citizens.
The Nazis wanted to breed a master race of racially pure Nordic Aryans in Germany. As an agronomist and farmer, Himmler was acquainted with the principles of selective breeding, which he proposed to apply to humans. He believed that he could engineer the German populace, for example, through eugenics, to be Nordic in appearance within several decades of the end of the war.
Himmler was captured after the war, and when he unsuccessfully tried to negotiate with the West, he was shocked to be treated as a criminal. He ended up committing suicide using cyanide he'd hidden.
Rico says that, if you can read this without weeping (and hating Germans), you're stronger than he is...

World War One for the day

War History Online has an article by Colin Fraser about the end of the First World War:
Ten interesting facts about the Armistice that ended World War One:
1. The Kiel Mutiny and the German Revolution were the final blow to the Empire.
According to the German Federal Archive: "With the rebellion of the sailors and workers on 3 November 1918 in Kiel, the November revolution started. On 6 November, the revolutionary movement reached Wilhelmshaven. The German Empire was in a desperate position, and many knew that The Great War was not winnable. Some Army commanders still had schemes for victory, and the Navy wanted to engage the Royal Navy in a last decisive battle but, on 3 November 1918, the sailors of Germany’s High Seas Fleet revolted in the Kiel Mutiny.
The revolt spread through all of Germany and, in a few days, Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated and the transition to the Weimar Republic began. On 10 November, Chief of the General Staff Paul von Hindenburg instructed the German delegation negotiating the terms of the Armistice to sign whatever terms and conditions were being offered quickly, due to growing riots and unrest at home. 
2. While many leaders were happy to end the fighting, some wanted more.
Though the Armistice ending World War One was essentially a German surrender, it still can’t quite be called true peace and, even if one calls it a peace, it wasn’t truly a full defeat, a complete victory.
General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, for one example, even after it was obvious the military might of the Allies was heavily beating Germany’s forces, he wanted to crush the Germans, believing that only their total defeat would keep the nations of Europe from fighting again before long. 
3. At 0512 AM on 11 November 1918, the Armistice was signed in Marshal Foch’s train car in the Forest of Compiègne.
French Marshal and Allied Supreme Commander Ferdinand Jean Marie Foch used his private train and railcar when Allied and German commanders and politicians signed the agreement to cease hostilities. The French turned the car into a monument but, when Hitler returned to France with Nazi Germany’s invasion a little over two decades later, he forced the French to sign the surrender of their country in the same car. He later ordered it blown up to avoid a similar symbolic gesture at the end of the Second World War
4. Though the Armistice was signed just after 0500, fighting went on for several more hours.
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month was agreed as the time hostilities between Germany and the Allies would cease, but fighting continued up until the last minute. Future American president Harry S. Truman, then an artillery captain, kept his battery firing until the final moments. 
5. Much of the Armistice was built on President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points.
In a speech on 8 January 1918, Wilson outlined his principles for peace, and the end to the war between the major nations of the Western world, in fourteen points. These points included Germany evacuating troops from occupied areas, the dismantling of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires into separate nations, all free and autonomous, and the understanding of self-determination for many countries.
Where self-determination was a condition that worked out well for many countries, places like south-eastern Europe would struggle with this for decades to come, as various peoples sought to govern themselves. Likewise, the Middle East has also struggled to work with and maintain the borders set up by European leaders in secret agreements after the war. 
6. The Armistice, understandably, was very unfavorable to Germany.
Among the Armistice’s terms were the cessation of all hostilities by 1100 the same day, the immediate removal of all German troops from territories outside of Germany’s 1 August 1914 borders, and the return of all POWs held by Germany.
Upon signing, Germany was also required to disarm their High Seas Fleet and surrender all their submarines to Allied powers. The Allied naval blockade of Germany was to stay in place while the armistice was in effect, however.
Furthermore, the terms stated that Allied armies were to occupy thirty kilometer bridgeheads in several places along the Rhine river, which Germany was to pay for. The general outline for war reparations from Germany to be paid to Allied nations for damage and the cost of the war was also included. 
7. Paris celebrated victory
That morning, flags were unfurled and bells rang out across Paris. Hundreds of students gathered at the Ministry of War, and Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau came out to proclaim Vive la France!, and the whole crowd cried the same. 
8. When the ceasefire took effect at 1100, celebration at the front looked different.
There were some cheers and happiness among the troops, and even some men that crossed the line to celebrate with their former enemy. But, for the most part, the troops were sombre, quiet, and exhausted after a long war. According to Jörn Leonhard, one British corporal recalled that "the Germans came from their trenches, bowed to us, and then went away. That was it. There was nothing with which we could celebrate, except cookies”.
9. The names of the last soldiers killed in each army on the Western Front:
George Edward Ellison, a British soldier killed at 0930
Augustin Trébuchon, a French soldier killed at 1045
George Lawrence Price, a Canadian soldier killed at 1058
Henry Gunther, an American soldier killed at 1059
Lieutenant Tomas, a German killed after the 1100 deadline by American troops who didn’t receive word of the ceasefire. 
10. The 'stabbed in the back' myth
This myth, exploited by the Nazis in their rise to power, began when German troops started coming home. Many, especially right-wing nationalists, believed that the forces of Germany had not been defeated, but undermined and betrayed by the new civilian government of the Weimar Republic trying to seize full power. However, the facts are against this notion, and that the Imperial Army and Navy no longer supported the Kaiser, the Navy was in full mutiny, and the people of Germany were rioting and starving, with various Socialist and Bolshevik groups trying to stage a revolution.
Rico says his maternal grandfather went, and (fortunately) survived. (And it's yet another war that Rico is glad he missed...)

Happiness Stan

Rico says it's one of his favorites from his younger years:

Ten coolest passport stamps

Travel + Leisure has an article by Jordi Lippe-McGraw, a contributing digital reporter, about passport stamps from places Rico (and, admit it, you, too) won't get to, either:
Going through customs can be a pain for those of us who don't like long waits, hoards of people, or fluorescent lighting. In some countries, however, there's opportunity for a little bit of happiness. In places like Antarctica and San Marino, visitors get a passport stamp that's, well, a bit creative.
Sure, there have been personal competitions among travel obsessives to see how many stamps they can get to fill their passports, but collecting stamps at Machu Picchu and the South Pole are a step beyond. From adorable and rare to totally bizarre, these are the ten of the coolest, brag-worthy passport stamps in the world:

Though not technically a country, this continent is managed by more than fifty nations. There’s no official passport stamp, but visitors can get souvenir ones at the various scientific stations based there.

North Korea
Given that fact that only about fifteen hundred tourists are allowed to visit this secretive country each year, getting one of these on your passport is something pretty special. To get access, you must book a tour with approved companies, and receive your stamp upon entry.

Machu Picchu
Though this UNESCO World Heritage site is located in Peru, visitors can receive an additional special stamp in their passports at the entrance of the ruins. What better way to mark the hiking feat?

No, that’s not a typo. With 58 characters, this village in Wales has the longest place name in Europe, and the second-longest in the world. The novelty stamp is available in the James Pringle Weavers shop. (Rico says he actually went there, back in 1969).

Tristan da Cunha
This island, located in the South Atlantic, is considered the most remote, inhabited isle in the world. There’s no airport, so visitors have to take a five-day boat ride from the nearest point in South Africa before getting the coveted stamp.

Considered a micro-nation, this spot is located on the northern Mediterranean coast of Israel and is less than three acres. There are only two residents, but they do have the their own passport stamp.

Republic of San Marino
It’s not the hardest stamp to get a hold of, but it is certainly unique. This country, located in central Italy, is the world’s oldest and smallest republic.

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Now that Cuba’s borders are a bit more relaxed for Americans, there will likely be a larger influx of visitors, but getting into Guantanamo Bay still remains elusive, as only those with military business are allowed. (Rico says his father went there back in the Fifties, when he was in the Naval Academy.)

The South Pole
If you make it to the South Pole, you deserve a stamp. It's obviously not a country, but ambitious trekkers can get a commemorative passport stamp at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, nonetheless.

Cayman Islands
This passport stamp is just downright adorable. Sir Turtle was created by Suzy Soto in 1963, and still greets visitors today.

Texas bluebonnets

Travel+Leisure has an article by Mariah Tyler, digital photo editor at Travel+Leisure, with photos of one of Rico's favorite springtime phenomenons:

Spring is finally here and, in Texas that means one thing: wildflowers. Bluebonnets in particular are native to Texan soil, and are such a part of the region's landscape that they were officially named the state flower more than a hundred years ago.
Even before the Highway Beautification Act, enacted by Texas-native President Lyndon Johnson in 1965,  the Texas State Highway Department hired a landscape architect to preserve and encourage the growth of wildflowers along its roadways in 1932, making Texas a must-see state for both flowers and road trips.
Driving Lone Star State highways in spring is especially breathtaking. In March and April, an outing can easily prompt a spontaneous stop in a bountiful field. But finding the perfect place to pull over can be a little tricky, so heed our tips:
The blooms rely heavily on abundant rainfall, and Texas experienced one of the wettest years on record in 2015, resulting in a spring where Texas highways are blanketed in the blue state flower. The bluebonnet season tends to start in late March or early April, but it came a little early that year, so you might want to act fast if you’re trying to frolic. Only rule: do not pick them: it’s illegal. (Well, not technically illegal, but it's best to let the flowers germinate properly.)
But before you get overwhelmed by the idea of driving through the whole of Texas, know that bluebonnets only cover a third of the state, and are concentrated throughout north central Texas (Houston, San Antonio, and up through Austin in the Hill Country to Dallas/Fort Worth). While no area is guaranteed to have the bluest fields, there are sure bets along the Bluebonnet Trail in Ennis, which claims to feature over forty miles of trails full of blooms. Other photo-worthy fields can be seen off US 280, Wildflower Loop, and US 281 towards Burnet. If exploring the trails doesn't satisfy your wildflower desires, there are also a few bluebonnet festivals (it wouldn’t be official without a festival) in Ennis, Chappell Hill, and Burnet in early April.
Rico says it's not the only reason Rico likes Texas, but it'll do... (Before you go, check this Texas website for local bloom info.)

History for the day: 1968: Johnson declines to run again

On 31 March 1968, President Lyndon Baines Johnson (photo) stunned the country by announcing he would not run for another term of office.

Quote for the day

The New York Times has an article by Helene Cooper entitled Patrolling disputed waters, American and China jockey for dominance:
Our reporter and photographer visited a Navy cruiser in the South China Sea, where rising tensions are expected to be a focus of talks between President Obama and China's president this week.
That led to the quote for the day:

"American Warship 62, this is Chinese Warship 575.
Today's weather is great. It is a pleasure to meet you at sea."

History for the day: 1889: Eiffel Tower opens

History.com has this for 31 March:

On 31 March 1889, the Eiffel Tower (photo & video) was dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by Gustave Eiffel, the tower’s designer, and attended by French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard, a handful of other dignitaries, and two hundred construction workers.
In 1889, to honor of the centenary of the French Revolution, the French government planned an international exposition, and announced a design competition for a monument to be built on the Champ-de-Mars in central Paris. Out of more than a hundred designs submitted, the Centennial Committee chose Eiffel’s plan of an open-lattice wrought-iron tower that would reach almost a thousand feet above Paris and be the world’s tallest man-made structure. Eiffel, a noted bridge builder, was a master of metal construction,  and designed th framework of the Statue of Liberty, recently erected in New York Harbor.
Eiffel’s tower was greeted with skepticism from critics, who argued that it would be structurally unsound, and indignation from others who thought it would be an eyesore in the heart of Paris. Unperturbed, Eiffel completed his great tower, under budget, in just two years. Only one worker lost his life during construction, which at the time was a remarkably low number for a project of that magnitude. The light, airy structure was, by all accounts, a technological wonder and within a few decades came to be regarded as an architectural masterpiece.
The Eiffel Tower is 984 feet tall and consists of an iron framework supported on four masonry piers, from which rise four columns that unite to form a single vertical tower. Platforms, each with an observation deck, are at three levels. Elevators ascend the piers on a curve, and Eiffel contracted with the Otis Elevator Company of the United States to design the tower’s famous glass-cage elevators.
The elevators were not completed by 31 March1889, however, so Eiffel ascended the tower’s stairs with a few hardy companions and raised an enormous French tricolor on the structure’s flagpole. Fireworks were then set off from the second platform. Eiffel and his party descended, and the architect addressed the guests and about two hundred workers. In early May of YEAR, the Paris International Exposition opened, and the tower served as the entrance gateway to the giant fair.
The Eiffel Tower remained the world’s tallest man-made structure until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York City in 1930. Incredibly, the Eiffel Tower was almost demolished when the International Exposition’s twenty-year lease on the land expired in 1909, but its value as an antenna for radio transmission saved it. It remains largely unchanged today and is one of the world’s premier tourist attractions.
Rico says it's still one of the most beautiful edifices, and Gustave's Last Erection...

30 March 2016

More cartoon stuff

Rico's friend Kelley, who has way more talent (and patience) than Rico, is working with some new comic-creation software:


Rico says that watching Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (with the luscious Penelope Cruz and the always-silly Johnny Depp, but the splendid Ian McShane as Blackbeard) put him in mind of this song:

Himmler’s witches library

War History Online has an article about Himmler (photo, right) and his occult books:

The library of books about the occult accumulated by Heinrich Himmler, the Nazi SS chief, (photo, top) was discovered recently in the Czech Republic. He reportedly believed, like many other prominent Nazis, that the occult and mysticism were key to Aryan supremacy. Himmler believed that much could be understood about the Aryan race by studying the past, and especially by studying arcane rituals and beliefs. He had long had connections with mystics and occultists. He was not alone in the Nazi Party in his interest in the occult. Many historians have argued that the movement was influenced by the mystical German movement, the Volkisch and its philosophy. Himmler was only one of many Nazis who collected books on the occult. Though it is generally recognized that Himmler was influenced by mysticism and the occult, his beliefs influenced the way that he ran the SS, and may account for their extreme brutality during the war.
The thirteen-thousand-volume library was found in a depot of the National Library near Prague in the Czech Republic; it had not been accessed since the 1950s.
Bjørn Helge, a Norwegian Masonic researcher, told Verdens Gang (a Norwegian newspaper) that some of the books were seized from the Norwegian Order of Freemasons in Oslo during the Nazi occupation of the country. Himmler had many occult books taken from countries occupied by the Germans. He founded the H Sonderkommando in 1935; the ‘H’ stood for ‘Hexe’, the German word for ‘witch’. Their mission was to collect as much information as possible on sorcery, the occult, and the supernatural.
The majority of the collection was known as the ‘Witches Library.’ It focused on witches and their persecution in medieval Germany. Himmler believed that the Roman Catholic Church attempted to eliminate the Aryan race with witch hunts.
He learned that one of his ancestors had been burned as a witch. Adolf Hitler did not have the same interest in the occult, but he allowed Himmler to explore the subject freely, because he valued his abilities.
The books were to be kept in Wewelsburg Castle (photo, bottom) in Western Germany. The castle is considered the ‘Black Camelot’ of Nazism, and is where Himmler created a court of SS ‘knights,’ mimicking King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Many believe that Himmler was attempting to create a new Germanic religion, in rivalry to Christianity, which he detested.
The castle is a museum today. The ceiling, with its swastika design, is the centerpiece of the exhibition. It is a vivid reminder of some of the ideas that influenced the Nazis.
Historians plan to analyze the Witches Library, and a Norwegian television company plans to make a documentary about the discovery.
Rico says it's not the Night Witches, either...

147 FBI agents investigating Hillary

Slate has an article entitled: There are 147 FBI agents involved in investigating Hillary Clinton's email scandal
The Washington Post reports that 147 FBI agents are involved in investigating Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account as Secretary of State; while the good news for Clinton is that there is, as of yet, no evidence that she violated any government secrecy laws, the bad news is that there's still lots of evidence that she was recklessly cavalier about security and the Freedom of Information Act.
Rico says that the cost of that alone should keep her out of the White House...

Cracked iPhone

The BBC has an article by Leo Kelion wondering if you should worry, now that the FBI cracked that iPhone:

The government's declaration that it has "successfully accessed the data stored on the San Bernardino. California gunman Farook's iPhone and therefore no longer requires assistance from Apple, ends a six week-long legal clash between the tech firm and the FBI. But it leaves the issue at the heart of the dispute unresolved: could the FBI have forced Apple to help it unlock the device? It is unlikely that this will be the last time a law enforcement agency tries to compel a tech company to help bypass security measures. What are the implications for other cases?
FBI director James Comey had previously suggested that only Apple could help it crack the iPhone. It had been reported that there are about a dozen other cases in which the Justice Department (DoJ) was attempting to force Apple to help its investigators.
The highest profile of these was in Brooklyn, New York, where the FBI wanted access to an iPhone belonging to a defendant who had already pled guilty to drug dealing.
In that case, a Federal judge had rejected the department's effort to invoke the All Writs Act, a three-centuries-old statute that allows court orders to be issued in circumstances where other laws don't apply. The DoJ had launched an appeal, but it is not yet clear if it will continue or drop it. Its decision may be based on whether the technique used to extract data from Farook's handset can be used in other cases.
The New York case involved an iPhone 5S running the iOS 7 operating system, while the San Bernardino, California case was about an iPhone 5C running the more modern iOS 9, and what works against one device might not work against the other.
But, assuming the government will, at some point, try again to use the All Writs Act to force Apple, or some other tech company, to circumvent its data protection measures, it may take a Supreme Court ruling to determine whether this is truly within the authorities' power.
At this point, there is nothing to compel the FBI to reveal how it was done, although Apple is likely to be pressing hard to find out. The tech firm's lawyers have already said they want details of the technique to be made public if evidence from the cracked iPhone is later used at trial.
But it could remain secret. There is scope within US law for the authorities to withhold the source of information if it was supplied to them on a confidential basis, and to protect sensitive intelligence-gathering methodologies.
Should we assume authorities can now easily work out any iPhone's passcode? Not necessarily. The court order originally obtained by the FBI had instructed Apple to come up with a special version of its operating system that would have prevented Farook's iPhone from deleting its data or imposing long lockout periods if too many incorrect passcode guesses were made. However, the latest court filings do not say that someone else has now done this, but merely that some data stored on the device has been obtained.
Researchers at the cybersecurity firm IOActive had proposed one way of getting data off an iPhone would be to "de-cap" its memory chips.
The process they described involved using acid and lasers to expose and copy ID information about the device, so that efforts to crack its passcode could be simulated on another computer without risk of triggering the original iPhone's self-destruct tool.
If indeed this is what happened, it is not easy, and there's a high risk of causing so much damage to the phone that the desired data becomes irretrievable.
By contrast, Cellebrite, a data forensics firm that has reportedly helped the FBI with the case, has previously discussed "bypassing" passcode locks, rather than trying to deduce the number. But it is possible that doing this would yield access to only a limited amount of a handset's data.
One other point is that Apple recently updated its iOS software. Each upgrade adds security fixes. So, if the FBI has indeed been alerted to a flaw in Farook's phone's security settings, that bug may no longer exist in devices that have installed iOS 9.3.
Is there any way to ensure no-one else can read the information held on my handset?Short of destroying the device, perhaps no. But you can use encryption-enabled apps to digitally scramble data.
The chat tool Wickr Messenger, for instance, lets you set it so that you have to enter a password each time you log back into the app.
Likewise, PQChat requires typing in a five-digit passcode of its own to get access.
So, even if a cracked iPhone did give up the contents of its text messages, emails and WhatsApp chats, the contents of the apps mentioned above should remain safe.
All this presumes, however, that the authorities do not manage to install spyware on your device. If that happens, all bets are off. 
What is the situation in the UK?As part of her efforts to pass the Investigatory Powers Bill, Home Secretary Theresa May has said that tech firms wouldn't have hand over encryption keys or build backdoors into their platforms. But the law still makes mention of "equipment interference warrants".
Campaigners at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have warned that these could be used to force Apple and others to insert new code into a device in order to help the authorities extract data, in a similar manner to the FBI's earlier order.
The EFF adds that "matching gag orders" would prevent the firms from informing their customers, or even their own lawyers, about the act. Equipment interference warrants already exist under the UK's current law.
For now, the focus of Apple and other tech firms is getting the Investigatory Powers Bill amended to say that, in the future, the warrants could only be amended with the permission of a judge. But were there to be a case where the UK police attempted to coerce Apple to override its protective measures, it might still resist, even if the fact never became public.
Rico says he's not worried; his anti-government feelings are explicitly revealed in this blog, so the FBI doesn't need to waste time listening to his iPhone...

Life as a sex-trafficking victim

The BBC has an article about men behaving badly (no surprise there) toward women:

Shandra Woworuntu (photos) arrived in the US hoping to start a new career in the hotel industry. Instead, she found she had been trafficked into a world of prostitution and sexual slavery, forced drug-taking, and violence. It was months before she was able to turn the tables on her persecutors. Some readers may find her account of the ordeal upsetting: 
I arrived in the United States in the first week of June in 2001. To me, America was a place of promise and opportunity. As I moved through immigration, I felt excited to be in a new country, albeit one that felt strangely familiar from movies and television.
In the arrivals hall I heard my name, and turned to see a man holding a sign with my picture. It wasn't a photo I cared for very much. The recruitment agency in Indonesia had dressed me up in a revealing tank top. But the man holding it smiled at me warmly. His name was Johnny, and I was expecting him to drive me to the hotel I would be working in.
The fact that this hotel was in Chicago, Illinois, and I had arrived at JFK airport in New York City, nearly eight hundred miles away, shows how naive I was. I was 24 and had no idea what I was getting into.
After graduating with a degree in finance, I had worked for an international bank in Indonesia as an analyst and trader. But, in 1998, Indonesia was hit by the Asian financial crisis and, the following year, the country was thrown into political turmoil. I lost my job.
To support my three-year-old daughter, I started to look for work overseas. That was when I saw an ad in a newspaper for work in the hospitality industry in big hotels in the US, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. I picked the US, and applied.
The requirement was that I could speak a little English and pay a fee of thirty thousand Indonesian rupiahs (in 2001, about $2,700). There was a lengthy recruitment process, with lots of interviews. Among other things they asked me to walk up and down and smile. "Customer service is the key to this job," I was told.
I passed all the tests and took the job. The plan was that my mother and sister would look after my little girl while I worked abroad for six months, earning five thousand dollars a month. Then I would come home to raise my daughter.
I arrived at JFK with four other women and a man, and we were divided into two groups. Johnny took all my documents, including my passport, and led me to his car with two of the other women. That was when things started to get strange.
A driver took us a short way, to Flushing in Queens, before he pulled into a car park and stopped the car. Johnny told the three of us to get out and get into a different car with a different driver. We did as we were told, and I watched through the window as the new driver gave Johnny some money. I thought "Something here is not right," but I told myself not to worry, that it must be part of the way the hotel chain did business with the company they used to pick people up from the airport.
But the new driver didn't take us very far either. He parked outside a diner, and again we had to get out of the car and get into another one, as money changed hands. Then a third driver took us to a house, and we were exchanged again. The fourth driver had a gun. He forced us to get in his car and took us to a house in Brooklyn, then rapped on the door, calling "Mama-san! New girl!"
By this time I was freaking out, because I knew "Mama-san" meant the madam of a brothel. But, by this time, because of the gun, there was no escape. The door swung open and I saw a little girl, perhaps twelve or thirteen, lying on the ground screaming as a group of men took turns to kick her. Blood poured from her nose and she was howling, screaming in pain. One of the men grinned and started fooling around with a baseball bat in front of me, as if in warning.
Just a few hours after my arrival in the US, I was forced to have sex. I was terrified, but something in my head clicked into place, some kind of survival instinct. I learned from witnessing that first act of violence to do what I was told.
The following day, Johnny appeared and apologized at length for everything that had happened to us after we had parted company. He said there must have been a terrible mistake. That day we would get our pictures taken for our ID cards, and we would be taken to buy uniforms, and then we would go to the hotel in Chicago to start our jobs.
Day and night, I just drank beer and whisky because that's all that was on offer; I had no idea that you could drink the tap water in America
"We'll be okay," he said, rubbing my back. "It won't happen again." I trusted him. After the bad things I had just endured, he was like an angel. "Okay," I thought. "The nightmare is over. Now I'll go to Chicago to start my job."
A man came and took us to a photo studio, where we had our pictures taken, and then he drove us to a store to buy uniforms. But it was a lingerie store, full of skimpy, frilly things, the like of which I had never seen before. They were not "uniforms".
It's kind of funny, to look back on that moment. I knew I was being lied to and that my situation was perilous. I remember looking around that shop, wondering if I could somehow slip away, disappear. But I was scared and I didn't know anyone in America, so I was reluctant to leave the other two Indonesian girls. I turned, and saw that they were enjoying the shopping trip. Then I looked at my escort and saw he was concealing a gun, and he was watching me. He made a gesture that told me not to try anything.
Later that day, our group was split up, and I was to see little of those two women again. I was taken away by car, not to Chicago, but to a place where my traffickers forced me to perform sex acts.
The traffickers were Indonesian, Taiwanese, Malaysian Chinese, and American. Only two of them spoke English; mostly, they would just use body language, shoves, and crude words. One thing that especially confused and terrified me that night, and that continued to weigh on me in the weeks that followed, was that one of the men had a police badge. To this day I do not know if he was a real policeman.
They told me I owed them thirty thousand dollars, and I would pay off the debt a hundred dollars at a time by serving men. Over the following weeks and months, I was taken up and down Interstate 95, to different brothels, apartment buildings, hotels and casinos on the East Coast. I was rarely two days in the same place, and I never knew where I was or where I was going.
These brothels were normal houses on the outside and discos on the inside, with flashing lights and loud music. Cocaine, crystal meth, and weed were laid out on the tables. The traffickers made me take drugs at gunpoint, and it helped make it all bearable.
Twenty-four hours a day, we girls would sit around, completely naked, waiting for customers to come in. If no one came, then we might sleep a little, though never in a bed. But the quiet times were also when the traffickers themselves would rape us. So we had to stay alert. Nothing was predictable.
Despite this vigilance, it was like I was numb, unable to cry. Overwhelmed with sadness, anger, disappointment, I just went through the motions, doing what I was told and trying hard to survive. I remembered the sight of that small girl being beaten, and I saw the traffickers hurt other women too if they made trouble or refused sex. The gun, the knife, and the baseball bat were fixtures in a shifting and unstable world.
Physically, I was weak; the traffickers only fed me plain rice soup with a few pickles, and I was often high on drugs
They gave me the nickname Candy. All the trafficked women were Asian; besides us Indonesians, there were girls from Thailand, China, and Malaysia. There were also women who were not sex slaves. They were prostitutes who earned money and seemed free to come and go.
Most nights, at around midnight, one of the traffickers would drive me to a casino. They would dress me up to look like a princess. My trafficker would wear a black suit and shiny black shoes, and walk silently alongside me like he was my bodyguard, all the time holding a gun to my back. We didn't go through the lobby, but through the staff entrance and up the laundry lift. I remember the first time I was ushered into a casino hotel room, I thought perhaps I would be able to make a run for it when I came out. But my trafficker was waiting for me in the corridor. He showed me into the next room. And the next one. Forty-five minutes in each room, night after night after night, the trafficker always waiting on the other side of the door.
Because I was compliant, I was not beaten by my traffickers, but the customers were very violent. Some of them looked like they were members of the Asian mafia, but there were also white guys, black guys, and Hispanic guys. There were old men and young university students. I was their property for forty-five minutes, and I had to do what they said or they hurt me.
My only possession, apart from my "uniform", was a small handbag, and the things it contained. I had a dictionary, a small Bible, and some pens and books of matches I pilfered from hotel rooms, with the names of the casinos on them.
I also kept a diary, something I had done since I was little. Writing in a mix of Indonesian, English, Japanese and symbols, I tried to record what I did, where I went and how many people were with me. I kept track of dates too, as best as I could. It was difficult because, inside the brothels, there was no way for me to know if it was day or night.
My mind was always thinking about escape, but the opportunities were so rare. One night I was locked in an attic in a brothel in Connecticut. The room had a window that I found I could open, so I roped the bed sheets and my clothes together and tied them to the window frame, then clambered out. But I got to the end of my makeshift rope and saw I was still a long, long way from the ground. There was nothing for it but to climb back up.
Then, one day, I was taken to the brothel in Brooklyn where I had arrived on my first day in the US. I was with a fifteen-year-old Indonesian girl I'll call Nina, who had become a friend. She was a sweet, beautiful girl. And she was spirited; on one occasion she refused to do as she was told, and a trafficker roughly twisted her hand, causing her to scream.
We were talking with another woman who was in the brothel, who was the "bottom bitch", which means she was sort of in charge of us. She was being nice, saying that if we ever got out I should call this guy who would give us a proper job, and we would be able to save up some money to go home. I wrote his number in small piece of paper and I kept it safe.
It was while she was talking about our debt, the thirty thousand the traffickers said we had to pay back, that I just started to freak out. I felt sure I would die before I ever served three hundred men. I closed my eyes and prayed for some kind of help.
Not long afterwards, I went to the bathroom and saw a small window. It was screwed shut, but Nina and I turned all the taps on loud, and, my hands shaking, I used a spoon to unscrew the bracket as quickly as I could. Then we climbed through the window and jumped down on the other side.
We called the number we had been given and an Indonesian man answered. Just like the bottom bitch had said, he promised to help us. We were so excited. He met us and checked us into a hotel, and told us to wait there until he could find us jobs.
He looked after us, bought us food and clothes and so on. But after a few weeks he tried to get us to sleep with men in the hotel. When we refused, he phoned Johnny to come and pick us up. It turned out he was just another trafficker, and he, the bottom bitch, and everybody else were all working together.
This is when I finally had a stroke of luck. Near the hotel, before Johnny arrived, I managed to escape from my new trafficker and took off down the street, wearing only slippers and carrying nothing but my pocketbook. I turned, and shouted at Nina to follow me, but the trafficker held on to her tightly.
I found a police station and told an officer my whole story. He didn't believe me and turned me away. It was perfectly safe for me, he said, to go back on the streets with no money or documents. Desperate for help, I approached two other police officers on the street and got the same response. Outside the brothel, there were detectives, armed police and a SWAT team with sniper rifles lurking nearby.
So I went to the Indonesian consulate, to seek help getting documents and some support. I knew that they had a room that people could sleep in in an emergency. But they didn't help me either. I was angry and upset. I didn't know what to do. I had come to the US in the summer, but it was getting towards winter now, and I was cold. I slept on the Staten Island Ferry, the subway, and in Times Square. I begged for food from strangers, and whenever I could get them to listen, I told them my story, and I told them that there was a house nearby where women were imprisoned, and that they needed help.
One day, in Grand Ferry Park in Williamsburg, a man called Eddy bought me some food. He was from Ohio, a sailor on holiday. "Come back tomorrow at noon," he said, after I had gone through my tale.
I was so happy I didn't stop to ask him what "noon" meant. I knew from school that "afternoon" meant PM, so my best guess was that "noon" was another word for "morning". So early the next day, I went to the same place in the park, and waited hours for Eddy to return. When he finally came, he told me he had made some calls on my behalf. He had spoken to the FBI, and the FBI had phoned the police precinct. We were to go that minute to the station, where the officers would try to help me. Eddy drove me there, and two detectives questioned me at length. I showed them my diary with details of the location of the brothels, and the books of matches from the casinos where I had been forced to work. They phoned the airline and immigration, and they found that my story checked out.
"Okay," they said in the end. "Are you ready to go?"
"Go where?" I asked.
"To pick up your friends," they replied.
So I got in a police car and we drove to the brothel in Brooklyn. To my relief I was able to find it again.
Rico says that, if the roles were reversed, men would be screaming bloody murder...

Strange 'crimes' for which people were arrested

StumbleUpon has a list of five things you might be surprised to be arrested for by Almie Rose, a writer from Los Angeles, California ( she has written for HelloGiggles, Thought Catalog, Genlux magazine, and others; her book, titled I Forgot To Be Famous is available here; her favorite things to do are eat, sleep, and repeat):

We like to believe that we have some basic idea of what's illegal (like selling meth) and what isn't (like not selling meth). But sometimes, you get blindsided by the law. Here are some cases of people who were arrested for the weirdest and most surprising infractions. 
1. Failing to return a video tape
In 2002, for reasons that have never been explained, James Meyers Jr. of North Carolina rented a copy of the Tom Green movie Freddy Got Fingered. He forgot to return the tape to the video store and was reminded of this discretion when he was arrested on 22 March 2016. That's right, Meyers had a fourteen-year-old warrant for his arrest for failing to return a video tape, and he had no idea.
The film aficionado was pulled over while driving his daughter to school for having a broken brake light. It was then that the police officers realized Meyers had a warrant and had to deliver the news. "The officer said, 'I don’t know how to tell you this, but there’s a warrant out for your arrest from 2002. Apparently you rented the movie 'Freddy Got Fingered' and never returned it'," Meyers told WSOC. "They were chitchatting with me and talking about how ridiculous this is. Then they arrested me," Meyers told ABC News. The officers permitted Meyers to finish driving his daughter to school, and even go to work before performing the arrest, as long as he promised to turn himself in after, which he did. He was then charged with "failure to return hired property" even though the video store he rented it from is no longer in business, because it's 2016.
No stranger to the absurd, Tom Green himself was nonetheless surprised and baffled by Meyers' story: He gave Meyers a call ("We both laughed hysterically") and even offered to provide legal fees. "I think it's sort of an example of how bureaucracy can get out of control," Green said during an interview on the Australian television show The Project
2. Cursing
We've probably all had that moment where it seemed like life was as frustrating as possible, and the only thing to combat it was to throw up our hands into the heavens and shout our favorite curse word. But you might want to be careful about that. A mom from South Carolina was arrested in 2014 for swearing at her children in a grocery store. Danielle Wolf was shopping with her kids in a Kroger supermarket and reportedly yelled at them to "stop squishing the fucking bread," according to the Huffington Post. A nearby shopper (identified only as "Mrs. Smith" in the police report) asked Wolf to stop cursing. When Wolf did not, police arrived to arrest her for "disorderly conduct".
Wolf didn't think that was fair. "The police officer was like, 'You’re under arrest'... right in front of kids, in front of my husband, in front of customers," she  told WJBF, an ABC affiliate. "I didn’t harm nobody. I didn’t hurt nobody. The lady said she was having a bad day. So, because you’re having a bad day, you’re going to ruin somebody’s life."
Then you have the story of Wesley Force Jr., who was arrested for "using profanity and abusive language", which is actually illegal in New Bern, North Carolina. Force certainly lived up to his name when he unleashed his frustrations in a flurry of curse words at an Auto Zone manager. Police were called and asked Force to stop cursing, according to ABC's WCTI. Force's reply? "I said, ‘I’ll say whatever the fuck I want.'" He was promptly arrested. 
3. Creative writing
Alex Stone, a high school student in Summerville, South Carolina, showed a lot of imagination in a class writing assignment when he wrote about killing a pet dinosaur. Despite the fact that one cannot have a pet dinosaur, Stone's teacher was upset that he would write about killing one.
The assignment asked students to write about themselves in the format of Facebook status updates, which, let's be honest, is a bizarre assignment. Stone explains what he wrote to NBC 12: "I killed my neighbor's pet dinosaur, and, then, in the next status, I said I bought the gun to take care of the business."
Stone's teacher saw the words "gun" and "take care of business" and alerted the police, who searched his locker for weapons. They found none, but Stone was still arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and suspended from school. 
4. Giving a wet willy
A wet willy (photo, top) is the practice of wetting your finger and then sticking that finger into someone's ear. Why you would do that is difficult to understand to begin with, and why you would do that to a random four-year-old child is especially confusing, but that's exactly what Michael Migani of Shelton, Connecticut, did in 2015.
The child and his mother were in a waiting room of a local business when Migani struck. He then fled before anyone could question him. He was charged with "second-degree reckless endangerment" and "second-degree breach of peace," according to WWLP
5. Feeding the homeless
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is very serious about their law prohibiting people from feeding the homeless in public. So serious that they arrested a man who breached it, even though that man was ninety years old and a priest.
Arnold Abbott made meals for the homeless in the church of his kitchen, took the food to the streets, and was arrested. "One of the police officers came over and said, 'drop that plate right now,' as if I was carrying a weapon," Abbott told WBTW, who doesn't regret his actions despite facing possible jail time and having to pay a five-hundred-dollar fine. "I fully believe that I am my brother’s keeper. Love thy neighbor as thy self."
Mayor Jack Seiler commented that "we enforce the laws here in Fort Lauderdale."
Rico says he should have been arrested for any number of stupidities, but nothing on this list, except swearing in public... (And joke 'em if they can't take a fuck.)

Odd list

Rico says some travel sites cover too big a spectrum:
Miami, New York, Miami Beach, Paris, Ambergris Caye, Brooklyn, Lakeville, Water Mill, Lake Placid, and Waitsfield.

Dog toy or sex tool?

Rico says it's one, but looks like the other...

That time again

It's 1:11, of course

Imitation is the insincerest form of flattery

Rico says that, as a former Apple employee (in the good old days), he shakes his head at how much Microsoft imitates its competitor:

  • The Microsoft Cloud (named long after the iCloud)
  • SurfaceBook (named long after the iBook)

More World War Two for the day

Rico says he can't get hold of the precise image he wanted, of Colonel Frost (played by Anthony Hopkins) kneeling on the approach to the Arnhem bridge with his cane, but these'll have to do:

Rico was privileged to see the new bridge when he visited, a few years back, his Apple-era friend Rob Buiskool, who lives in Arnhem.

Apple for the day

The New York Times has an article by Katie Benner, John Markoff, and Nicole Perlroth about what happened to that iPhone:

Now that the government has cracked open an iPhone belonging to the gunman in the San Bernardino, California mass shooting without Apple’s help, the tech company is under pressure to find and fix the flaw. But, unlike other cases where vulnerabilities have cropped up, Apple may face a higher set of hurdles in ferreting out and repairing the particular iPhone hole that the government hacked.
The challenges start with the lack of information about the method that authorities, with the aid of a third party, used to break into the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, an attacker in the San Bernardino, California rampage last year. Federal officials have refused to identify the person, or organization (though it's rumored that it was the Israelis), who helped crack the device, and have declined to specify the procedure used to open the iPhone. Apple also cannot obtain the device to reverse-engineer the problem, the way it would in other hacking situations.
Making matters trickier, Apple’s security operation has been in flux; it was reorganized late last year. A manager who had been responsible for handling the government’s data extraction requests left the team to work in a different part of the company, according to four current and former Apple employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the changes. Other employees, among them one whose tasks included trying to hack Apple’s own products, left the company over the last few months, they said, while new people have joined.
The situation is in many ways a continuation of the cat-and-mouse game Apple is constantly engaged in with hackers, but the unusually prominent nature of this hacking, and the fact that the hacker was the government, creates a predicament for the company.
Apple is a business, and it has to earn the trust of its customers,” said Jay Kaplan, chief executive of the tech security company Synack and a former National Security Agency analyst. “It needs to be perceived as having something that can fix this vulnerability as soon as possible.”
Apple referred to a statement it made when the government filed to drop its case demanding that the company help it open Farook’s iPhone. “We will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated,” Apple said.
Apple has been making many long-term moves to increase the security of its devices. The company’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, has told colleagues he stands by Apple’s road map to encrypt everything stored on its devices and services, as well as information stored in Apple’s cloud service, iCloud, which customers use to back up the data on their mobile devices. Apple engineers have also begun developing new security measures that would make it tougher for the government to open a locked iPhone.
For now, with the dearth of information about the flaw in Farook’s iPhone 5C, which runs Apple’s iOS 9 operating system, security experts could only guess at how the government broke into the smartphone.
Forensics experts said the government might have attacked Apple’s system using a widely-discussed method to extract information from a protected area in the phone by removing a chip and fooling a mechanism that blocks password guessing, in order to find the user’s password and unlock the data.
The authorities may have used a procedure that mirrors the phone’s storage chip, called a NAND chip, and then copied it onto another chip. Often referred to as “NAND-mirroring,” this would allow the FBI to replace the original NAND chip with one that has a copy of that content. If the FBI tried ten passcodes to unlock the phone and failed, it could then generate a new copy of the phone’s content and try another password guess.
“It’s like trying to play the same level on Super Mario Brothers over and over again and just restoring from your saved game every time you kill Mario,” said Jonathan Zdziarski, an iOS forensics expert.
Newer iPhone models may be less susceptible to NAND-mirroring, because they have an upgraded chip known as the A7, with a security processor called the Secure Enclave that has a unique numerical key not known to the company, which is essential to the securing of information stored in the phone.
Security vulnerabilities in Apple products have become increasingly prized by hackers in recent years, given the ubiquity of the company’s mobile devices. Yet as interest has grown in attacking Apple’s hardware and software, the company’s own security teams have been in flux.
Apple previously had two main security teams; a group called Core OS Security Engineering and a product security team. The product security team included a privacy group, that examined whether data was properly encrypted and anonymized, among other functions, according to three former Apple employees. The product security team also had people who reacted to vulnerabilities found by people outside Apple, as well as a proactive team, called RedTeam, which worked to actively hack Apple products.
Last year, the product security team was broken up and the privacy group began reporting to a new manager, the former employees said. The rest of product security, the proactive and reactive pieces, was absorbed by the Core OS Security Engineering team, which itself experienced shifts.
The leader of the Core OS Security Engineering team, Dallas DeAtley, left the security division last year to work in a different part of Apple. DeAtley was one of the few employees who over the years had taken care of government requests to extract data from iPhones. DeAtley did not respond to requests for comment.
A few other members of the team also departed. Others joined Apple as the company acquired a handful of security outfits last year, including LegbaCore, which previously found and fixed flaws for Apple.Some of the departures had more to do with market  forces, the former Apple employees said. Security professionals are some of the most sought-after engineers in the technology sector.
Whether Apple’s security operation will ever obtain information about how the government hacked into Farook’s iPhone remains unclear. It’s possible that the government will not say how it opened the iPhone because the method is “proprietary to the company that helped the FBI,” said Stewart A. Baker, a lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson and the Department of Homeland Security’s first assistant secretary for policy.
Within the security community, researchers and professionals said they were incensed that they and Apple may not find out how the FBI was able to crack Farook’s iPhone.
“There is very little debate that it is in everyone’s best interest that Apple find out about this vulnerability, and everyone should be asking why that is not the case,” said Alex Rice, the chief technology officer at HackerOne, a security company in San Francisco, California that helps coordinate vulnerability disclosure for corporations.
Rico says he remains convinced that there's nada on the phone, and that the FBI will never admit it...

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