Yet another freezing morning, yet more thawing out water supplies. Suddenly we amateurs can sympathise with farmers for whom the weather forecast is of more than academic interest. Unlike them we lack the will and there were mutterings about emigration today. Albert opted for America because he would prefer the climate and would like to become a spy. A rather difficult aim I hear you say. But it seems that it is ‘childsplay’ to quote Bradley Manning, the US soldier who has given the world something to ponder over its cornflakes, or whatever passes for breakfast in Iran.
In truth most of the ‘secrets’ being revealed by WikiLeaks are of the soap opera variety. But there are some chilling comments, not least the fear that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are far from secure and the view of various countries that unless Iran is tackled it will trigger armaggedon. And there is plenty to choose from for thanks to Private Manning no fewer than 250,000 classified cables from US embassies to Washington are available.
The hapless G.I is now incarcerated but how did he pull off such a massive exposure? He has even exposed that secret. In a published chatlog with a fellow-hacker he explained that he would arrive at his place of work with a CD-RW labelled Lady Gaga. He would then write a compressed split file. No one suspected a thing as he “lip-synched to Lady Gaga while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history”. Manning said that he had “unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day, 7 days a week for 8 months”. He went on to tell his correspondent Adrian Lamo that ” Hilary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning to find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public. Worldwide anarchy in CSV format..its beautiful and horrifying”. Manning clearly isn’t the brightest button in the box for it obviously didn’t occur to him that Lamo might leak news of his involvement in leaks. But he did! Meantime the latter day 007 had fed the data to WikiLeaks.
The 1.6 gigabytes of text files duly reached the Guardian. They were contained on a memory stick capable of being hung from a keyring and cover the contents of 251,287 despatches from 250 US embassies. I confess to being a Luddite in such matters but cannot refrain from pointing out that had the cables been retained merely in hard copy the chance of anyone stealing the lot would have been greatly reduced.
It seems that Manning was but one of around 3 million people allowed to access these files which prompts one to wonder how serious America really is about security. Presumably it is so bewitched by the new age of hi-tech processing that it actually believes all the boffin guff about secure systems being impenetrable.
Such naivety deserves exploitation so the US customs should keep an eye out for Albert, Bin Laden, and a host of others willing to fork out the Virgin air fare in exchange for a a check through the Pentagon files. Of course they will only succeed if they have some Lady Gaga to hand and I have taken the precaution of hiding the allotment shed CDs to which we hum on days more cheerful that this one!
EU FLAGSHIP POLICIES ARE DISASTROUS!
My recent piece on the EU led to a chat with a local farmer whose desk is littered with EU documentation, most of it being about the Common Agricultural Policy. Clever it ain’t!
The policy costs each British taxpayer about £398 per year and the overall cost to the UK is estimated at about £10.3 billion a year in everything from increased food prices to regulatory burdens. It seems that a good deal of the cash handed over ends up in the hands of corrupt conmen. In Sicily large payments have been made for non-existent orange groves and “phantom farms”. There have been “double-counted sheep” in Italy and “permanent pasture” in Greece which aerial photos showed to be largely forests and rocks.
Farm subsidies are even more corrupt. Since the introduction of the single farm payment, farm subsidies appear to have been granted to airlines, golf clubs, cruise ships and pony clubs.
Meantime the British fishing industry is at death’s door with the Commission pushing for a 50 per cent cut in our fishing quota. And that is not to preserve the fish for under the latest rules 39,000 tons of edible cod will be thrown back dead by trawlers arriving with more that their quota.
No one I ever meet has a good word to say for the Agricultural Policy, my new farmer friend certainly didn’t have. Perhaps I just don’t meet the right people?
TEST DRAW IN BRISBANE!
My self understanding reveals that whilst I desperately want England to retain the Ashes I will derive no pleasure from winning a poor series. And the signs are not good.
In their second innings the top English batsmen demonstrated just how toothless the 2010 Aussie attack is. And then for the second time the Australian batsmen did the same to Anderson, Broad and company.
The next match is at Adelaide (renowned for its lifeless wickets) and, right now, it is hard to imagine other than a draw for the chance of either attack taking twenty wickets is akin to Beefy making a comeback. But hope springs eternal!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1.Mother Teresa 2. Calcutta
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. The 1978 mass suicide of the followers of Jim Jones took place in which country? 2. Which US aircraft corporation was accused in 1976 of bribery in several countries?