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Links 1 through 10 of 84 by Paul Raven tagged terrorism

"There's a certain blindness that comes from worst-case thinking. An extension of the precautionary principle, it involves imagining the worst possible outcome and then acting as if it were a certainty. It substitutes imagination for thinking, speculation for risk analysis, and fear for reason. It fosters powerlessness and vulnerability and magnifies social paralysis. And it makes us more vulnerable to the effects of terrorism."

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"It's magical thinking: If we defend against what the terrorists did last time, we'll somehow defend against what they do one time. Of course this doesn't work. We take away guns and bombs, so the terrorists use box cutters. We take away box cutters and corkscrews, and the terrorists hide explosives in their shoes. We screen shoes, they use liquids. We limit liquids, they sew PETN into their underwear. We implement full-body scanners, and they're going to do something else. This is a stupid game; we should stop playing it.

But we can't help it. As a species we're hardwired to fear specific stories -- terrorists with PETN underwear, terrorists on subways, terrorists with crop dusters -- and we want to feel secure against those stories. So we implement security theater against the stories, while ignoring the broad threats." Bruce Schneier.

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"When the rest of us went to war trying to wipe out infections entirely, the Norwegians forged an uneasy truce. They intentionally deny themselves access to the latest infection-fighting technology. They suffer through colds and other minor illnesses, essentially letting the bacteria run rampant (Tylenol is used to control the symptoms rather than the disease and infected individuals are sent home and paid to stay there). In life-threatening situations, the big guns come out and antibiotics keep the staph at bay. It works because there is no evolved resistance. The staph gets to live day to day, so we get to live in the emergency room."

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"Terrorism is rare, far rarer than many people think. It's rare because very few people want to commit acts of terrorism, and executing a terrorist plot is much harder than television makes it appear.

The best defenses against terrorism are largely invisible: investigation, intelligence, and emergency response. But even these are less effective at keeping us safe than our social and political policies, both at home and abroad. However, our elected leaders don't think this way: They are far more likely to implement security theater against movie-plot threats." Preach it, Brother Schneier. Testify!

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"The gangs have made tens of millions of dollars from ransoms and a deployment by foreign navies in the area has only appeared to drive the attackers to hunt further from shore.

It is a lucrative business that has drawn financiers from the Somali diaspora and other nations -- and now the gangs in Haradheere have set up an exchange to manage their investments.

One wealthy former pirate named Mohammed took Reuters around the small facility and said it had proved to be an important way for the pirates to win support from the local community for their operations, despite the dangers involved.

"Four months ago, during the monsoon rains, we decided to set up this stock exchange. We started with 15 'maritime companies' and now we are hosting 72. Ten of them have so far been successful at hijacking," Mohammed said."

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"The two anti-war campaigners were not the only law-abiding protesters being monitored on the roads. Officers have been told they can place "markers" against the vehicles of anyone who attends demonstrations using the national ANPR data centre in Hendon, north London, which stores information on car journeys for up to five years.

Senior officers have been instructed to "fully and strategically exploit" the database, which allows police to mark vehicles with potentially useful inform-ation such as drink-driving convictions." Good grief. Insert depressing Orwell reference here.

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"The urban attacks of the 1990s and the early 2000s, however, are qualitatively different. Destructive power has increased due to better operational sequencing of paramilitary attacks, car bombs, and suicide bombers. Multiple elements can operate in time, utilizing better C2 nodes than before. Hostage takers have developed better fortification, surveillance, and perimeter defense skills. Moreover, due to a deadly combination of ethnic nationalism and religious fervor, attackers are more bloodthirsty and prepared for death. That being said, gangland codes of blood and honor can also be a powerful motivator, especially when criminal soldiers such as former Mexican special forces operatives face adversaries inferior in both training and armament."

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"Here's a simple overview of what is increasingly becoming the dominant method of offensive warfare in the 21st Century. Early applications of this methodology to modern conflict have been very successful. In short, it's better to understand its dynamics than to assume it doesn't exist."

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"Their American trainers spoke of "upper body strength deficiency" and prescribed pushups because their trainees buckle under the backpacks filled with 50 pounds of equipment and ammo they are expected to carry. All this material must seem absurd to men whose fathers and brothers, wearing only the old cotton shirts and baggy pants of everyday life and carrying battered Russian Kalashnikov rifles, defeated the Red Army two decades ago. American trainers marvel that, freed from heavy equipment and uniforms, Afghan soldiers can run through the mountains all day -- as the Taliban guerrillas in fact do with great effect -- but the U.S. military is determined to train them for another style of war." Any idiot can see they can't win; the question is, why are they (and "we", for values of x where x self-identifies with the nation it pays tax to) *really* still there?

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"The debate has largely overlooked a more basic question: How important to terrorist groups is any physical haven? More to the point: How much does a haven affect the danger of terrorist attacks against U.S. interests, especially the U.S. homeland? The answer to the second question is: not nearly as much as unstated assumptions underlying the current debate seem to suppose. When a group has a haven, it will use it for such purposes as basic training of recruits. But the operations most important to future terrorist attacks do not need such a home, and few recruits are required for even very deadly terrorism. Consider: The preparations most important to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks took place not in training camps in Afghanistan but, rather, in apartments in Germany, hotel rooms in Spain and flight schools in the United States."

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