End Times

August 25, 2009

Iran and Syria

Filed under: Endtime Prophecies — Steven @ 2:55 am

One can learn a great deal by analyzing the visit of Syrian President Bashar Assad to Iran last week. Statements made by Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reveal a great deal about the allies’ strategy which seems to escape Western observers. Assad and Ahmadinejad during a previous meeting at the Ash-Shaeb presidential Palace in Damascus. Photo: AP [file] The first point is that they are indeed close allies. I would estimate that analyses by Western “experts” that Syria can be pried away from Iran outnumber explanations that this is impossible by about 10 to one. This mistaken conception is also the official policy of the United States and France, perhaps Britain as well. There are, of course a huge number of benefits Syria derives from its alliance with Iran including Islamist legitimacy, protection against being attacked or pressured, money, weapons, cooperation in anti-Israel terrorism and spreading both countries’ influence among the Palestinians, Lebanese and Iraqis. Once Iran gets nuclear weapons, which is on the horizon, the alliance’s value for Syria will rise dramatically. This is why it was silly for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to suggest recently: “Given what’s been going on in Iran and the instability that appears to be present there, it may not be in Syria’s interest to put their eggs into that basket.” Well, Assad apparently doesn’t agree with her. Perhaps she should listen to what he’s saying and watch what he’s doing in order to draw the opposite conclusion. Assad said: “I think that what happened in Iran is an important thing and a big lesson to the foreigners, and therefore they are not very satisfied. I believe the Iranian people’s reelection [of Ahmadinejad] is another emphasis on the fact that Iran and Syria must continue the regional policy as in the past.” In other words, he correctly views Ahmadinejad and the regime as even stronger after the election. Dictators respect repression; they aren’t impressed by an opposition which stages demonstrations and whose leaders get thrown into prison. That’s especially true when they don’t even receive Western support. WATCHING THE gradual concessions made by the West to the Iran-Syria block, and its evident fear of confronting them, Assad stated that he was confident the international community would accept Iran and Syria more than it had done in the past. Note also that the two countries are very consciously coordinating strategy in a war against Western interests and the relatively more moderate Arab regimes, a conflict that Western governments don’t even perceive as existing: “Iran and Syria are on the same front, and any political event is an opportunity which must be used at the best way possible while helping one another,” said Assad. Iranian Supreme Leader (and the real leader of the country) Ali Khamenei agreed: “The result of this unity is evident in the Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq issues and also in the entire region.” The tide is in favor of the resistance, he added, referring to the combination of Iranian, Syrian, Hamas, Hizbullah, Iraqi insurgents and other members of the radical alliance. What does this mean? Palestine: Hamas is entrenching itself further, while European governments seem less willing to isolate it. There is no prospect of bringing down that regime and the West isn’t even trying to do so. Khamenei probably assumes – wrongly – that Hamas is steadily making gains in subverting Fatah’s rule in the West Bank. Lebanon: While Hizbullah didn’t win the last election, it is clear that the Iran-Syria client increasingly owns the country. The country’s president is fairly subservient to Iranian and Syrian influence; the tribunal investigating Syrian terrorism in Lebanon seems pretty dead itself. Hizbullah seems on the verge of reestablishing veto power in the government, and the most courageous opponent of Iran-Syria influence, Walid Jumblatt, has changed sides (or at least gone to neutrality). Iraq: The US forces are withdrawing. Iran’s money, agents and clients seem to be able to operate freely, though Teheran is nowhere near taking over the country. Khamenei also said something truly shocking. After remarking about Syria’s improved relations with Iraq (a country against which it is daily sponsoring terrorist attacks), he added that unity (the translation probably should say “alliance”) between Iran and Syria, on one hand, and their neighbors Iraq and Turkey would benefit the region. What does this mean? He is showing Iran’s longer-term plan to pull Iraq (under a more friendly faction) and Turkey (currently ruled by an Islamist-oriented regime) into a broad alliance. That statement should send shock waves throughout the West, and cause intelligence analysts to pick up the phone and inform someone who has Obama’s ear. Iran and Syria, along with their clients, are at war with America, and the US government doesn’t even know it. That’s why Khamenei remarked, “America’s blade has become blunter in the region.” He’s right. That’s why if anyone is worried about putting all the eggs in one basket, nowadays it is America’s Arab partners. The fact that the US is perceived as weaker and foolish in the region is far more important than the fact that Obama might be more popular in public opinion polls. WITH A US government so intent on apologizing to everyone, all but ruling out the use of force or power politics and apparently – in Iran’s perception – afraid to confront its enemies, they’re concluding in Teheran and Damascus, as Ahmadinejad put it: “Today the world has realized that Western theories are not working anymore and that is why it needs the help and cooperation of Syria and Iran.” An increase in economic sanctions, which is the main US plan against Iran at present, is not going to change this perception – or Teheran’s behavior. But before effective action can be taken, there must be the realization that a conflict is going on, one that is far more important than the one between the US and al-Qaida. One can learn a great deal by analyzing the visit of Syrian President Bashar Assad to Iran last week. Statements made by Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reveal a great deal about the allies’ strategy which seems to escape Western observers. Assad and Ahmadinejad during a previous meeting at the Ash-Shaeb presidential Palace in Damascus. Photo: AP [file] The first point is that they are indeed close allies. I would estimate that analyses by Western “experts” that Syria can be pried away from Iran outnumber explanations that this is impossible by about 10 to one. This mistaken conception is also the official policy of the United States and France, perhaps Britain as well. There are, of course a huge number of benefits Syria derives from its alliance with Iran including Islamist legitimacy, protection against being attacked or pressured, money, weapons, cooperation in anti-Israel terrorism and spreading both countries’ influence among the Palestinians, Lebanese and Iraqis. Once Iran gets nuclear weapons, which is on the horizon, the alliance’s value for Syria will rise dramatically. This is why it was silly for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to suggest recently: “Given what’s been going on in Iran and the instability that appears to be present there, it may not be in Syria’s interest to put their eggs into that basket.” Well, Assad apparently doesn’t agree with her. Perhaps she should listen to what he’s saying and watch what he’s doing in order to draw the opposite conclusion. Assad said: “I think that what happened in Iran is an important thing and a big lesson to the foreigners, and therefore they are not very satisfied. I believe the Iranian people’s reelection [of Ahmadinejad] is another emphasis on the fact that Iran and Syria must continue the regional policy as in the past.” In other words, he correctly views Ahmadinejad and the regime as even stronger after the election. Dictators respect repression; they aren’t impressed by an opposition which stages demonstrations and whose leaders get thrown into prison. That’s especially true when they don’t even receive Western support. WATCHING THE gradual concessions made by the West to the Iran-Syria block, and its evident fear of confronting them, Assad stated that he was confident the international community would accept Iran and Syria more than it had done in the past. Note also that the two countries are very consciously coordinating strategy in a war against Western interests and the relatively more moderate Arab regimes, a conflict that Western governments don’t even perceive as existing: “Iran and Syria are on the same front, and any political event is an opportunity which must be used at the best way possible while helping one another,” said Assad. Iranian Supreme Leader (and the real leader of the country) Ali Khamenei agreed: “The result of this unity is evident in the Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq issues and also in the entire region.” The tide is in favor of the resistance, he added, referring to the combination of Iranian, Syrian, Hamas, Hizbullah, Iraqi insurgents and other members of the radical alliance. What does this mean? Palestine: Hamas is entrenching itself further, while European governments seem less willing to isolate it. There is no prospect of bringing down that regime and the West isn’t even trying to do so. Khamenei probably assumes – wrongly – that Hamas is steadily making gains in subverting Fatah’s rule in the West Bank. Lebanon: While Hizbullah didn’t win the last election, it is clear that the Iran-Syria client increasingly owns the country. The country’s president is fairly subservient to Iranian and Syrian influence; the tribunal investigating Syrian terrorism in Lebanon seems pretty dead itself. Hizbullah seems on the verge of reestablishing veto power in the government, and the most courageous opponent of Iran-Syria influence, Walid Jumblatt, has changed sides (or at least gone to neutrality). Iraq: The US forces are withdrawing. Iran’s money, agents and clients seem to be able to operate freely, though Teheran is nowhere near taking over the country. Khamenei also said something truly shocking. After remarking about Syria’s improved relations with Iraq (a country against which it is daily sponsoring terrorist attacks), he added that unity (the translation probably should say “alliance”) between Iran and Syria, on one hand, and their neighbors Iraq and Turkey would benefit the region. What does this mean? He is showing Iran’s longer-term plan to pull Iraq (under a more friendly faction) and Turkey (currently ruled by an Islamist-oriented regime) into a broad alliance. That statement should send shock waves throughout the West, and cause intelligence analysts to pick up the phone and inform someone who has Obama’s ear. Iran and Syria, along with their clients, are at war with America, and the US government doesn’t even know it. That’s why Khamenei remarked, “America’s blade has become blunter in the region.” He’s right. That’s why if anyone is worried about putting all the eggs in one basket, nowadays it is America’s Arab partners. The fact that the US is perceived as weaker and foolish in the region is far more important than the fact that Obama might be more popular in public opinion polls. WITH A US government so intent on apologizing to everyone, all but ruling out the use of force or power politics and apparently – in Iran’s perception – afraid to confront its enemies, they’re concluding in Teheran and Damascus, as Ahmadinejad put it: “Today the world has realized that Western theories are not working anymore and that is why it needs the help and cooperation of Syria and Iran.” An increase in economic sanctions, which is the main US plan against Iran at present, is not going to change this perception – or Teheran’s behavior. But before effective action can be taken, there must be the realization that a conflict is going on, one that is far more important than the one between the US and al-Qaida.

August 14, 2009

Implantable credit card RFID chips

Filed under: Mark Of the Beast — Steven @ 1:12 am

Implantable credit card RFID chips: convenient, but creepy By Jay MacDonald It’s a simple concept, really: You inject a miniature radio frequency identifier the size of a grain of rice between your thumb and forefinger and with a wave of your hand unlock doors, turn on lights, start your car or pay for your drinks at an ultrachic nightspot. Radio frequency identifier (RFID) chips are so tiny they can be injected under the skin — and here are 12 cool ways that the technology has been put to use. The problem is, the whole concept is a little geeky for most of us; nauseating for some, Orwellian for a few and even apocalyptic for a smattering of religious fundamentalists. Forget the science of it — and yes, it does work remarkably well. Forget the convenience of it. Forget that similar identifying technologies, from bar codes to mag stripes, overcame similar obstacles and are now ubiquitous. RFID implants face a hurdle the others did not: It’s icky. “There is sort of an icky quality to implanting something,” says Rome Jette, vice president for smart cards at Versatile Card Technology, a Downers Grove, Ill., card manufacturer that ships 1.5 billion cards worldwide per year. How RFID devices work The RFID technology is un-yucky, however. The implanted tag — a passive RFID device consisting of a miniature antenna and chip containing a 16-digit identification number — is scanned by an RFID reader. Once verified, the number is used to unlock a database file, be it a medical record or payment information. Depending upon the application, a reader may verify tags at a distance of four inches up to about 30 feet. The RFID implant has been around for more than 20 years. In its earliest iteration, it provided a convenient way to keep track of dogs, cats and prized racehorses. Few took note or voiced much concern. Then, in 2002, VeriChip Corporation of Delray Beach, Fla., deployed to its foreign distributors a beta version of its patented VeriChip technology for human use. Two years later, the VeriChip became the first subcutaneous RFID chip to receive FDA approval as a Class 2 medical device. One VeriChip distributor in Spain sold the concept to the ultratrendy Baja Beach Club, which offered its patrons in Barcelona and Amsterdam the option of having an implant inserted in their upper arm to pay for their drinks without a wallet bulging their bikini bottoms. Judging by the ensuing outrage, you would think VeriChip had given the pope a wedgie. ‘Mark of the beast’? Web sites sprouted like mushrooms, accusing VeriChip of being the biblical “mark of the beast” predicted in the Book of Revelations as a foreshadowing of the end of the world. CEO Scott Silverman was equally vilified as being tied to Satan, or worse, Wall Street. Big Brother was surely coming, though he’d have to get pretty close to read your implant. Claims that the tags cause cancer based on lab rat tests upped the amps of outrage. Were people suddenly curious about RFID implants? “Curiosity is probably an understatement,” Silverman admits. “People have always taken interest in VeriChip. Part of the lore and part of the trouble of this company over the past five years has been just that.” Though VeriChip played no part in using its implant as a payment device, the company quickly tacked to calmer waters. Today, it markets its VeriMed Health Link patient identification system to help hospitals treat noncommunicative patients in an emergency. Its future may include more advanced medical applications, including a biosensor system to detect glucose levels. A lot of the negative press that we received was a direct result of people having a misconception of what this technology is all about. — Scott Silberman VeriChip CEO “A lot of the negative press that we received was a direct result of people having a misconception of what this technology is all about,” says Silverman. “We believe that the medical application was and still is the best application for this technology.” “That said, if and when it does become mainstream and more patients are utilizing it for their medical records or for diagnostic purposes, if they want to elect to use it for other applications, certainly they’ll be able to do that. But it’s going to take a company much larger than us to distribute the retail reader end of it into the Wal-Marts of the world.” Jette has watched contactless RFID battle for acceptance in the credit card arena. Just as Silverman suggests, the dynamics and scale of the payment industry tends to work against widespread deployment. “Mobil Speedpass tried to do it; they got some traction and decided to see if there was any mileage to take this to a Walgreens or McDonald’s. You used to be able to use your Speedpass at McDonalds, but that ended because, at the end of the day, you still only have two gigantic payment processors out there, Visa and MasterCard,” he says. “To me, the idea of any kind of payment device having ubiquity requires an awful lot of back-end cooperation, of people willing to say, ‘I don’t need my brand in the customer’s wallet.'” Although the coolness factor is effective from a marketing standpoint — American Express Blue with its smart (if largely unused) chip is a good example — Jette says most cardholders would balk at the very thought of a needle. “With the implanting in the nightclubs, there is a cache of exclusivity there, especially among a certain demographic where people are piercing themselves and getting tattoos. But those are things that really only twentysomethings do a lot. I really doubt that there will be any market for injectible RFID tags, or even any single point-of-sale payment device.” “A lot of times, the technology is a solution looking for a problem. Sometimes people fall in love with the technology for its own sake and then try to evangelize a home for it. My business group is just smart cards, and I never forget that although we make money with smart cards, the bills are paid with mag stripe cards. As backwards and old-fashioned as they are, that is still the bulk of what the transactions are going to be in America for a very long time.”

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