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This post is primarily about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is presently in the process of legislation to be updated. You’ve probably heard at least something about this in the news. There’s a good reason for that. Let’s explore that reason, shall we?

This year’s updated bill, H.R.1540, updates the laws in place pertaining to detainees of our military, and when the military can be used to detain someone. In section 1032, they define specifically the conditions for required military custody.

H.R. 1540 §1032 – “REQUIREMENT FOR MILITARY CUSTODY” (subsections a & b)

  1. Custody Pending Disposition Under Law of War-

    1. IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (4), the Armed Forces of the United States shall hold a person described in paragraph (2) who is captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) in military custody pending disposition under the law of war.
    2. COVERED PERSONS- The requirement in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person whose detention is authorized under section 1031 who is determined–
      1. to be a member of, or part of, al-Qaeda or an associated force that acts in coordination with or pursuant to the direction of al-Qaeda; and
      2. to have participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.
    3. DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR- For purposes of this subsection, the disposition of a person under the law of war has the meaning given in section 1031(c), except that no transfer otherwise described in paragraph (4) of that section shall be made unless consistent with the requirements of section 1033.
    4. WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY- The Secretary of Defense may, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the Secretary submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States.
  2. Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-
    1. UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
    2. LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.

Let’s dissect this a bit.

Subsection A says the US military is required to hold any terrorists or potential terrorists (§1032.a.2.A) who’ve helped or attempted to plan or make an attack against the US(§1032.a.2.B). Our military are authorized to use military force to obtain and detain these people (§1032.a.1). It also says that the Sec. of State can waive the requirement of the military to detain these people if Congress agrees it’s a good idea (§1032.a.4).

Basically, if you’re anything like a terrorist, and you indirectly participate in an attack against the US, the military has the automatic authorization to kick your door down, toss a bag over your head and ship you to guantanamo. No trial, no justice, just military precision. That’s pretty lame. At least they put in provisions to prevent this from happening to US Citizens in section b:

Subsection B says that this requirement does not extend to US Citizens or Lawful Residents. Look carefully at that wording. The “requirement to detain a person in military custody [...] does not extend to” …So, they’re still authorized to do it, then- just not required to. That’s less comforting.

There’s been a lot of talk about section 1031 lately, too. You might say, this is where all the serious problems are.

H.R.1540§1031 — “AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.”

  1. In General- Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.
  2. Covered Persons- A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
    1. A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
    2. A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
  3. Disposition Under Law of War- The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:
    1. Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
    2. Trial under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (title XVIII of Public Law 111-84)).
    3. Transfer for trial by an alternative court or competent tribunal having lawful jurisdiction.
    4. Transfer to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.
  4. Construction- Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
  5. Authorities- Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.
  6. Requirement for Briefings of Congress- The Secretary of Defense shall regularly brief Congress regarding the application of the authority described in this section, including the organizations, entities, and individuals considered to be ‘covered persons’ for purposes of subsection (b)(2).

Subsection A basically authorizes the president to anything deemed necessary with regards to military force, including the ability to detain people. This is seperate from §1032 above, mind you.

Subsection B (1) lists terrorists and terrorist aids. (2) however, includes the following: (&sept;1031.b.2) “A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the US or its allies, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”

Let’s break that down a bit, shall we?

“al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces”
Who defines what an associated force of these groups is? Our intelligence isn’t always 100% accurate.

“including any person who has committed a belligerent act [...] in aid of such enemy forces.”
This throws up major red flags. If you were at your local Occupy movement and told an officer “the Taliban have won, facist” this could apply to you. What does this entitle them to do to you? According to the following section, “Detention under the law of war without trial (until the US decides the hostilities are over.)” (§1031.c.1) Let us not forget- the “hostilities” in question have been going on since Bush Jr.’s first term.

That’s the begining of what people are so upset about. This time, instead of that nice clear concise “doesn’t apply to citizens,” we get a loophole filled paragraph.

Subsection E seems like it puts this all in the proper allowances, but there’s a subtle catch here. It’s my understanding that the courts are the only entities with the power to construe law in a way that lasts longer than single incidents. Legal precident must be established, and only courts can establish legal precident. Handily, §1031 specifically bypasses the court system. If you’re found to be guilty by the military, you’re thrown in a cell without any chance to prove your innocence. This is a rampant violation of the 5th amendment disguised with bureaucracy.

It’s little known that §1031 used to have a subsection similar to §1032.b, but it was removed before the bill went to the house. By whom you might ask? Let’s have a look at the evidence presented by C-SPAN.

With this in mind, let us end with a quote from our beloved president Obama, from his Inaugural Address in January of 2009.

“Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

People frequently ask me why I’m so upset with Obama. My response these days is to ask them how they’re not.

No Comments Written by in Human Rights at 11:13 am

I was a faithful user of the EveryDNS system for 4 years. Their system has never been fancy, it’s never been overly complex; It’s always been there, well.. most of the time, anyway. I appreciated the site for its simplicity and used it for its functionality. Wildcard subdomains are why I moved to them in the first place. I was impressed with how clean and simple this service had remained after so many years… until, On January of 2010, something terrible happened.

Dyn acquired EveryDNS. Dyn had been excellent to me in the past, but I’d lost track of them; it’d been 6 years since I’d last used their products. They hadn’t really been in the news. Given my past positive experiences however, I was content with this news and curious to see what they would do with such a simple and useful service.

The following year, while moving servers around in the background, my EveryDNS services were downed 4 times; twice because of incompetence causing downed servers, and twice because of DDoS attacks. I watched them drop WikiLeaks the moment they started getting negative attention. They had support people on Twitter who responded to my every agitated comment but failed to provide anything besides carefully massaged words in response to these issues. At least they (sometimes) acknowledged the true reasons for outages. Dyn had become a big company that acted like big companies tend to act. In response to this outrage, I moved most of my domains off of EveryDNS, but apparently forgot the domain for my (closed to the public, low traffic) server hosting project.

This morning, one of the folks involved in the project asked what the cause of the downtime they were experiencing was. When I checked, I found the server up, but visiting the domain returned a different IP than it should. ARIN confirmed the owner to be “Dynamic Network Services Inc.” When I visited the EveryDNS site, I was cheerfully greeted with a countdown to EveryDNS’ final throws of death.

In 14-and-half hours, EveryDNS would experience “Outages,” the notification cheerfully announced.

Was my service still functional as implied by the claim that outages were 14 some hours away?
No.

Did I receive an email to the email address they have on file, notifying me of this?
No.

Did I receive any notification that DynDNS would be shutting down EveryDNS entirely?
No!

Instead, they simply re-directed the domains I was hosting with them. That was how I was notified. And not only did they redirect my domains to one of their servers, the server in question couldn’t handle the load of so many requests at once, and timed out. Stay classy, guys.

This was so incredibly unprofessional, it’s unforgivable. To effectively Hijack my domain in it’s entirety without any notification whatsoever goes beyond incompetence and into “if I was making my living from this site I would sue you for lost business.”

I will never do business with Dyn ever again.

1 Comment Written by in Servers & Services at 10:53 am

The past few months have been some of the most frustrating of my life. A combination of carpal tunnel and severe tendinitis have severely reduced the functionality of my hands. This is not a new problem, but rather an old one that has not improved over time.

I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome four years ago, when it was at its worst. I was given a series of tests to ensure the problem was in fact carpal tunnel syndrome; I failed each with flying colors, in record time. The specialist I saw made a set of custom splints, which I was told to wear as often as possible and especially to bed. This, largely, solved the problems I was having with carpal tunnel syndrome. The next battle, the one I’m still having today, was with tendinitis.

Tendinitis is a much less severe problem; it is the sort of issue that goes away if you rest long enough. Unlike carpal tunnel syndrome, it will frequently heal on its own. Unfortunately, my particular case has been severe enough that it has only continued to grow worse over time. I have seen a total of four doctors and two specialists; each has told me to exercise frequently and “stop doing the things that caused this.” It is now at a point at which using a computer at all outside of normal business hours (during which I do not have a choice) causes my performance to deteriorate the following day.

It goes without saying that this has resulted in extreme changes to my normal life. I used to spend my off hours primarily online chit chatting with friends from afar via IRC, AOL Instant Messenger, Google talk and e-mail while working on projects such as websites or WordPress plug-ins. Instead, I now spend my time watching movies and cooking when my husband or roommates are available to help me lift pots and pans. I just recently picked up a copy of DragonDictate, which is how I am writing this post.

These recent setbacks have made me look more closely at what I really want out of a career. My profile on many social networking sites has a bio which reads “a web developer who always wanted to be a psychologist.” That isn’t actually a joke; I legitimately have always wanted to be a psychologist, I sort of fell into the IT thing in web development and design had always been something of a hobby of mine. I haven’t really looked into going back to school because it seemed like such a very difficult thing to do. It also didn’t seem terribly necessary. I enjoy web development and design a great deal.

The sudden and dramatic realization that I would no longer be able to ride this career to the end of my days provides a sort of urgency not previously present. Quite suddenly, the prospect of going back to school seems less difficult than the prospect of attempting to continue working this career for the rest of my life. I looked up psychology programs in the San Francisco Bay Area and found that a local school which my roommate attends, DeAnza College, offers a two-year psychology course, the transcripts of which are fully transferable to the Pacific School of Psychology; they have a master’s and doctorate program. Tuition is affordable (enough), it’s very close to where I live… Really, the only question remaining is whether or not my hands will last long enough to complete the course.

I would like to apologize wholeheartedly for being unable to keep up with the requests made of my WordPress plug-in, the “Anyfeed Slideshow,” or the Apple Mail.app UUID reader. There are many projects with which I am involved that I will need to retract from, should this continue to grow worse.

I will continue to look at this from as optimistic a point of view as possible, with the intent of finding a permanent solution to this problem; be it the transition to a new career, or cyborg limbs (for which I pine greatly). I sincerely appreciate the well wishes and support that I have received from my dear friends. Thank you all. Without you, this would feel like the end of my life.

7 Comments Written by in Life at 7:43 pm

In my last post I vowed specifically not to purchase a vehicle with the proceeds of my tax return. In this post I will detail how circumstances can conveniently make the less responsible thing to do become the more responsible thing to do!

My husband has been doing the job search thing after being laid off from Cisco a few months ago. I am pleased to announce he accepted an offer at The Gap’s corporate office last week; he starts on Monday. The problem with this? We live in San Jose, San Francisco is at least an hour’s drive in traffic. There’s a train that’s nice and fast, but the closest place to get on it is 6 miles away. He and I share my RAV4 as our only car. I think you can see where this is going.

California is a beautiful state with a spectacular climate that includes almost no weather at all. Here we are, in the middle of February, and the average high temperature over the past two weeks has been 65ºF. It’s the perfect place to ride a Motorcycle year ’round. In my previous post, you may have noticed the “Smashed, being fixed” subtext on the my 1990 Concours. Well, there’s a story behind that.

Last year, crashed it. The causes were fairly simple; I forgot to put the kickstand up before leaving, and the motorcycle’s killswitch failed to engage. I bounced off the kickstand until it pushed me into a curb. I broke off the left side foot peg, smashed the main fairing, tooke a chunk out of the windsheild, and destroyed the left mirror’s support structure. It’s been sitting in our garage ever since, waiting for me to decide what I wanted to do with it.

Over the weekend, I took it apart and found the main fairing was really wrecked! I was upset; that fairing cost $750 to replace with a new one. The main issues were broken and missing tabs that hold the side fairings on; which is pretty important. The engine was in good shape though, so I ordered a foot peg and put it on the bike, removing all the broken bits to see what I had.

All in all, the damage was almost entirely purely cosmetic; except for that mirror. The knuckle was broken, and a replacement was another $100. I didn’t want to spend more than absolutely necessary on this bike, as I was planning to replace it as soon as I found cycle worthy of the cause in my price range. So… I fixed it as best I could with what I had!

I dremmelled what was left of the knuckle joint on the mirror off, drilled a hole through the aluminum on the mirror, and dremmeled the metal away from it enough to get a bolt through, then dremelled a piece of steel, drilled holes in it, and bolted the two together! Once firmly attached, I angled the mirror by clamping a C-clamp to one side and gently bending it until it was aimed just right.

It looks hilarious. One of my roomies told me to put some spikes in my jacket and go to work as “Mad Maxine” or something. I think… I’ll definitely be buying a new motorcycle in the near future. ;)

2 Comments Written by at 10:53 am

Every year around this time, those of us fortunate enough to have steady stable employment submit our 1040s to the IRS to collect a refund for taxes we’ve paid more than our share of. This year, mine was rather a bit larger than usual thanks to the Making Work Pay tax credit. I was reflecting on the subject of what I had spent previous years’ tax returns on and came to an amusing discovery: Almost every tax return I’ve received since I moved to California in 2006 has been applied to a vehicle purchase. Let’s review.

2007: White 1987 Toyota Supra Targa Turbo (Sold in 2009)
 

2008: White 2007 Toyota RAV4 Sport V6 4WD
 

2009: Red 1990 Kawasaki Concours (presently smashed and being repaired)
 

Now it’s 2011, and I’m about to receive the biggest tax return I’ve ever received. Do I have my eyes on a new(er) toy? Of course I do! …but there’s also a whole laundry list of things that I’ve been putting off in wait for funding. Things like proper riding gear, new tires for the RAV4 and a credit card that isn’t going to pay itself off.

So this year, I’ll be good. Despite the pressing urge to do otherwise. I think.

2 Comments Written by in Life at 8:49 am

I have received many comments about the Anyfeed Slideshow; there is a bug in the present version I intend to work out with an upcoming release. We’ve had company since a week before Christmas; between that and work I’ve had no free time to hammer out anything productive. I have not forgotten about you! Many apologies for the delays, I will do my absolute best to get that out A.S.A.P.!

No Comments Written by in Anyfeed Slideshow at 7:05 am

Jan 24 2011 Cityscape Photography

Since I’ve been old enough to appreciate photography, cityscape photography has always been one of my absolute favorites. I love architecture and the contrast large buildings provide against your standard fare of houses and supermarkets. There’s just something about it that screams civilization! If you were lost in the jungles of Africa, thus searching for other people and happened upon a village of huts, you have succeeded. If you should instead see a skyscraper not far from where you are, however, you’ve won the lottery!

As one would imagine, growing up in small town Mankato, Minnesota didn’t leave many opportunities for cityscape photography; at least in the scales I’ve found more interesting. When I learned my close friends Aaron and Michelle had secured a top floor suite at a downtown San Jose hotel, I practically begged them to let me in with my camera! As convenience would have it, the windows in their room opened, and one was missing the security latch that limited how far open the window could slide. How perfect is that! As a result, I took a panorama and a night shot (I would have done a night panorama, but sadly forgot to bring my tripod); both are below.

Here’s to hoping more opportunities like this one arrise in the future! Many thanks go out to Aaron and Michelle for providing the opportunity!

No Comments Written by in Life at 6:37 am

Many of us when considering how to protect ourselves from a physically external threat against our personal computers would usually consider the following steadfast solution:

  • Password everything
    • Use passwords that are difficult to guess (unrelated to our lives, jumbles of letters and numbers, etc)
    • Never use the same password twice
    • Always use mixed case letters, numbers and symbols
    • Ensure the password is at least 8 characters long
    • Never use whole dictionary words anywhere in your password
  • Keep Daily Backups
  • Keep Your Computer in a Safe Place

These rules generally keep us safe in the information age; but I wonder if we didn’t think our clever plan all the way through. What if an unpleasant sort of person might sneak about and steal away our computer? What if they also were to take our backup drive? What then?

Well, here’s what happens.

  • If you’ve passworded and encrypted your operating system…
    • If your data is worth it, they can still get it.
    • They reformat your laptop and re-install a pirated OS on your computer. It’s easy .
    • Your chances of recovering the laptop at this point are slim to nill.

  • If you’ve only passworded your operating system…
    • They can still easily get your data.
    • They reformat your laptop and re-install a pirated copy of OS on your computer.
    • Your chances of recovering the laptop at this point are slim to nill.

  • If your OS doesn’t have so much as a password on it…
    • They get your data with no difficulty whatsoever.
    • They usually sell your laptop as is, sometimes even with your data still intact!
    • Your chances of recovering the laptop at this point are actually pretty good!

So really, the question comes down to this: What’s more important to you? The privacy of your data, or your hardware?

Privacy

If the privacy of your data is more important, then keep this in mind. Generally speaking, once someone has physical access to your computer, there’s pretty much nothing you can do to prevent them from accessing your data. Encryption slows the process, it might stop a few, but if your data is worth having, nothing can stop someone from pulling it from the physical machine. With that in mind, don’t carry that data on your laptop if it’s so important! Keep it on a flash drive and tuck it away in a safe. Nuke your browser history and cookies after you browse the internet, or use Firefox and plug-ins that help you do that more easily.

If you’re concerned about ensuring you don’t lose your data, you might keep online backups. It’s all the rage, and there are lots of different companies already offering services for around $5.00/month.

Once your mobile system is free from the things you’re terrified of others seeing, your main concern is retrieving the hardware should it be stolen.

Hardware

In this day and age, one can easily use services to track the location of an individual by IP address. There are many companies that provide this service, and many programs have thus been made to take advantage of these services. If you were to install one of these many, many, many, many products, you could get an exact location of where your laptop is the next time it’s turned on. You could use software to take a picture of the thief in action. These products, however, assume the thief is able to log into and make use of your system. After all, if you can’t get into someone’s laptop, how much fun it is to stare at the lock prompt, asking you for a password you don’t know? At that point, you’d just wipe it and start with a new OS, wiping away all of your security. Useless.

So, am I saying you should leave your computer with no password? No. That’s not a very good idea at all. …but it sure couldn’t hurt to make a guest account with just enough to get your thief to use the computer for a while so those wonderful products tell you what s/he looks like, and where s/he is.

Not convinced of this method yet? Well, this gentleman certainly presented a great case.

1 Comment Written by in Amusing,Security at 1:24 pm

Good evening, internet! Today is December 20th: A day of no particular consequence for some, but for me, today is the beginning of my holiday vacation. I don’t have to go back to work for a full 7 days; a desperately needed break from the monotony of recent projects at work. This holiday season will be spent with my loving husband, our room mate Sammy, who has been living with us for all of the 3 years she’s lived in California, and two of my closest friends; One all the way from Indiana!

When we moved into our home some 8 months ago, we were splitting a much larger house into two; and as such, we split furniture up between the two groups. We ended up with a couch and a coffee table, which made our living room look rather sparse!


A quick panorama taken shortly after moving in

We had always talked about buying a beanbag chair or two to fill up the space; The larger ones which seat more then one person. Since our livingroom tends to be chilling room anyway, it felt like appropriate furniture for the task. Lovesac has a store at the mall nearest to our home, so we headed over to see what they wanted for one.

$400 is not a reasonable price for a bean bag chair. Incredible. I was figuring on at least half that! We found another company, Sumo, that made bean bag chairs with slightly more reasonable prices; about $100 less then Lovesac on average, but still a bit too steep for what seemed reasonable to my roomies and I.

We saw bean bag chairs sitting outside of a Mancini’s Sleepworld and decided to check them out. The very helpful and friendly salesperson pointed us over to a group of ginormous1 beanbag chairs for a very reasonable $129. We bought the only one they had, and traveled to their other San Jose store to pick up a second. We could only fit one in the car at a time! It was so cool!

Now we have them home, and they take up that massive empty space. I think once the Giftmas tree is taken down, they might even look more like they belong there. Here’s to hoping!

As you can see by the picture, our Giftmas tree’s lights are half dead; This happens every year around this time. Every year before we’ve tried to find more lights to replace the dead set, but in every attempt we find that every store is sold out of the lights we want. So instead, this is the last Giftmas in which we’ll be using these lights. Next year we’ll get out early and pick up some colored lights instead2; So sayith my husband!

Happy Holidays everyone!

1: It is so totally cool that Webster put this word in their dictionary.
2: HA! Us? Proactive about a holiday? That’ll be the day. :D
2 Comments Written by in Amusing,Life at 6:48 pm

A week ago yesterday, I launched the Anyfeed Slideshow plug-in for WordPress. There were a few bugs, which I tackled as soon as I could. It’s been a little over a week now, and I’ve averaged about 1 revision per day since then, each resolving little bugs as they popped up. I checked the statistics on the WordPress site, and wanted to share them here, because I can barely believe them!

That is not a small number!! Wow! They like it! They really like it! :D


Plans for version 1.1

As the bugs appear to be mostly worked out now, I plan to release version 1.1 in the near future. The new major version will include a number of requested new features:

  • The ability to leave the title bar up, even when the mouse isn’t hovering over the plug-in
  • The ability to change the color of the loading text
  • A color picker instead of just text boxes in the widget configuration menu
  • The ability to select the target window for slide show item links
  • The option to enable (browser side) image scaling within the slide show
  • The ability to show more then one concurrent widget instance

Do you have a feature you’d like to have added? Please feel free to ask below in the comments!

21 Comments Written by in Anyfeed Slideshow,Wordpress at 9:47 pm
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