The Null Device


Caveat lector: The ever-lucid Charlie Stross deconstructs alleged Al-Qaeda spokesman Suleiman Abu Ghaith's ghastly tirade, in which he claims the right to kill 4 million Americans. It appears the Middle East Media Research Institute, which found and translated the piece, is run by people connected with Israeli intelligence, and thus may not be as impartial and nonpartisan as it purports to be; and there's the suggestion that this Abu Ghaith chap may be just some random lunatic chosen for his scariness.

(Imagine a mirror-image Arab news organisation combing the US local newspapers for editorials demanding that we kill them all or forcibly convert them to Christianity. They wouldn't have to look far with the likes of Anne Coulter about, would they?)

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Being a professional heartless bastard can take its toll. The daughter of immigration minister Philip Ruddock, of detention camp infamy, has left Australia to work in a developing country. Kirsty Ruddock gave distress with her father's policies and politics as one of her reasons for leaving.

She says she has asked her father not to wear his Amnesty International badge when discussing immigration matters as the organisation opposed his policies.

What does one have to do to be kicked out of Amnesty International these days?

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Figures released in parliament have revealed that Australia's rate of phone tapping is 20 times that of the US. Last year, more than 2,150 phone tap warrants were issued in Australia, compared to 1490 in the US. The Australian figures exclude ASIO, who stand to gain sweeping surveillance powers in new "anti-terrorism" legislation being considered. Despite this, Australian authorities have had fewer arrests than their US counterparts. Is Australia a world-leading panopticon state, or home to more high-tech criminals? Or do Australians rely on telecommunications more than Americans do for some cultural or geographical reason?

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For the style-conscious indiekid: Cat and Girl, one of the better web comics, now have some rather twee-looking button badges. Wearing suggestion: on fur-lined parka with black-frame emo glasses, to flaunt your subcultural awareness.

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A recently uncovered secret document from the Project for the New American Century hass revealed that Bush and senior figures from his cabinet planned to invade Iraq and seize control of the Middle East even before the 2000 election. The blueprint for US world domination, drawn up for Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and other Bush cabinet members, refers to the Middle East as the "new American frontier" and calls for, among other things, a permanent US presence in the area, using US allies such as the UK as instruments of US control, the development of biological weapons, the creation of "US Space Forces" to dominate space and "regime change" in China. It also shows concern that Europe could rival the USA and says that the US must 'discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role'. (via