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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane bloggers

List of Hurricane Katrina blogs now talking about the aftermath of the storm:


Other links:
Craigslist resources for Katrina Survivors
Scipionus.com - Wiki map of hurricane impacted area with information about the status of specific locations affected by the storm and its aftermath
Here's an automated aggregrator page of Katrina-related bloglinks from TruthLaidBear.com

courtesy: Terry Teachout

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Stories from the Storm

A new blog wants to tell "Stories from the Storm." It will "give voice to those who survived Hurricane Katrina and other storms like her. Stories of storms past and present are welcome."

Friday, August 26, 2005

Bio of Craig Newmark: founder of craigslist

Craig Newmark founder of craigslist Craig Newmark founder of craigslist Craig Newmark founder of craigslist with CEO Jim Buckmaster
photos of Craig Newmark

A short, shy, unassuming, 52-year-old, balding man in San Francisco is slowly choking the newspaper business to death. His name is Craig Newmark. He is the founder and Chairman of craigslist.

Craigslist is a centralized network of websites for worldwide urban and regional communities. It features free classified advertisements along with discussion boards. There are currently 195 craigslist websites serving all 50 US states, and over 47 countries.

Its sole source of revenue is paid employment ads in three cities ($75 per ad for the San Francisco Bay Area; and $25 per ad for New York, and Los Angeles). So 99.2 percent of craigslist advertisements remain free. Its internet traffic is now about a fifth of eBay's. Craigslist has quietly emerged as one of the top 10 internet companies in the world in terms of page views, attracting more than 10 million unique visitors per month. It also has a triple-digit annual growth rate.

Traditionally, local newspapers have derived 30 to 50 percent of their advertising revenue from the classifieds. Therefore, most newspaper publishers, whether they admit it or not, are very worried about craigslist.

Bio of Craig Newmark & and brief history of craigslist:
  • Craig Newmark was born on December 6, 1952, in Morristown, New Jersey.
    "I miss the old homes and the old trees."
  • His father, who sold commodities such as food, insurance, and promotional items, died of lung cancer about six months after Newmark's bar mitzvah.
    "We weren't poor, but not incredibly far from there."
  • Newmark's mother, Joyce Newmark, worked as a bookeeper and still lives in Morristown. They talk frequently on the phone. She had a heart bypass operation in 2003.
    "I’m a very, very proud mother...I’d love to see him get married to a lovely girl."
  • He is a never-been-married bachelor.

  • Craig is 5'7" tall. Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster, stands a full foot taller than Newmark at 6'7."

  • Craig has a younger brother, Jeff Newmark. Jeff is the finance director for an Acura dealership in Springfield, NJ. He lives in Cransford, NJ, with his wife and children. Jeff said:
    "My children are extremely close to him. Do you remember the "Make Room for Daddy" TV show? Do you remember Uncle Tonoose, who would blast in and out of town, full of fun? That’s Uncle Craig."
  • Craig graduated from Morristown High in 1971. He was co-captain of the debate team and a member of the forensics club. He also started a club with friends for playing the Asian game Go.

  • He went to college at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. He earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in computer science.
    Degrees:
    M. S. Computer Science, 1977, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. Thesis: "Fundamental Models of Computer Systems and Their Relationship to Information Security."
    B. S. Undergraduate Scholar, 1975, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.
    Lesson learned in language communications course:
    "I remember realizing that it wasn’t everyone else who had a communication problem. It had to be me. I miss what other people would find obvious. The perfect example would be that a woman may be real interested in me and I’ll miss it completely."
  • Newmark worked at IBM for 17 years (1976-1993), first in Boca Raton, Fla., then Detroit, MI. His first job was in "Advanced technology" at IBM Boca Raton. During his time in Boca he enrolled in ballet and jazz dance classes to meet women. He ended up in the hospital with a hernia.
    "I lived the Dilbert life"
  • Craig moved to San Francisco in mid 1993 to work for Charles Schwab and Co. (1993-1995). He was a Systems Security Architect and general consultant.
    "I've been a San Franciscan all my life, although I only moved here in mid '93."
  • Since May 1994 he has lived on Cole Street in Cole Valley, CA. Cole Valley is a slowly gentrifying neighborhood of San Francisco.

  • He lives in the first floor flat/condo of a 1908 Edwardian that is so dark he has to use a nightlight to find his way down the hall and out into the bright sunlight.
    "Really, the only thing I'm missing in terms of quality of life is a permanent parking space."
  • He put a SFLAN box on his roof (2003) that gives the Cole Valley community free Wi-Fi access to the Internet.

  • The Reverie CafĂ© is Newmark’s neighborhood hangout. It's his home away from home. He met a girlfriend there in 2004.

  • In 1995, he became an independent contractor and began developing software for Bank of America (9/95-6/96), Xircom (now Intel, 6/95 - 8/95), Sun Microsystems (12/97-4/98) and several other companies. He did this until 1999.

  • Craig Newmark observed people on the Net, on the WELL and in Usenet, helping one another out. In early '95, he decided to help out, in a very small way, using email to tell people about cool events around San Francisco like the Anon Salon and Joe's Digital Diner.
    "So, early '95, I decided that I would start sending people notices about cool events, usually ones that involved arts and technology. And from there, via word of mouth, the news of the list spread. People wanted to be added. People wanted more stuff like jobs or stuff to sell posted there. And then I said "how 'bout apartments?" and it just grew like that. People wanted more, had suggestions. We did it. And that's the pattern to this day."
  • In the middle of 1995, Newmark crossed a threshold. His email list hit 240 addresses, too many to be distributed by a cc list. So he posted it for public consumption by using a list server, majordomo, which required a name. Craig wanted to call it "sf-events," but more knowledgeable friends suggested calling it "craigslist" to reinforce its personal and down-to-earth nature.

  • Craig devoted himself full-time to craigslist in early 1999. At that time it was running on a single PC with a 128-megabyte hard drive in his living room. Craigslist has consistently earned profits since then.
    "I ran the site as a hobby for a few years, and in 1998 brought on some volunteers who ran things for a year or so. Unfortunately they weren't too successful, and I decided to run the company in 1999. I saw that we needed to get serious and run it as an actual company."
  • Craigslist was incorporated as a for-profit in 1999.
    "I made craigslist into a real company in '99, and made it a corporation (on paper, not attitude) to get the legal protections that you get that way. That's the way it works in the US."

    "In terms of our normal organization, we are neither a nonprofit nor a conventional for-profit commercial company. We're something in between, and there is no term to describe what we do. On paper, we're a for-profit. But we just don't run like that."
  • craigslist corporate mantra: "Give people a break."

  • Craig hired Jim Buckmaster in 1999 to do technical work. Jim said:
    "In 1999, craigslist was running on a PC. I took it to a multi-server environment. I took it to a number of other cities. When I came in, there were about a dozen classified categories. There was no search engine and no discussion boards. Every posting was reviewed and posted manually."

    "I moved the site to a self-service model. I added the flag system, where users are able to flag a potential problem."
  • In September 2000 Craig had a legal dispute with former craigslist CEO Nancy Melone. Melone, who worked two years on the site during its infancy, said she was ousted in the spring of 2000 and got $32,000, and the List Foundation URL (listfoundation.org) as part of her severance pay. Listfoudation.org was a long time alternate address for craigslist. Melone went on to form MetroVox.com, a site that looked somewhat like Craig's List. MetroVox rerouted the listfoundation.org URL to their site without informing craigslist. This led to a storm of controversy. MetroVox ultimately failed to attract an audience. Newmark said:
    "We didn't have any action against MetroVox. We had an action against an individual and we did not withdraw our right to sue for breach of contract, infringement or unfair competition."
  • He hired Jim Buckmaster as craigslist President and CEO in November 2000.
    "in 2000 I hired Jim Buckmaster as CEO, and as a consequence I now own less than 50 percent. It was a good investment."
  • Founded the Craigslist Foundation in 2001. It is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that helps emerging nonprofit organizations.
    "I set up a personal foundation and sent two big contributions-big for me-to one group providing eye exams and glasses to poor Israeli kids and the other group, same amount of money, to Palestinian kids. The theme there is giving everyone a break."
  • He joined with the EFF on June 6, 2002 to sue 28 Hollywood movie and TV studios over the right to copy television programs for personal use with a digitial video recorder (DVR). The lawsuite was called: Newmark, et al., v. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. et al. Judge Cooper dismissed the Newmark Plaintiffs' case on January 9, 2004, because it had become a moot argument.

  • Fortune magazine reported in April 2004 that craigslist "revenues are roughly $7 million a year" (for 2003?). Consultant Classified Intelligence reckons the site drew $10 million in revenue in 2004. Fortune said Craig's take-home pay was around $200,000 a year. Craigslist had 8 employees in 1999. It had 14 employees in September 2004, and 18 employess in July 2005, but was in the process of hiring more customer service reps and Perl programmers. Craig has said he will not sell craigslist.
    "Our philosophy is that we’re basically making enough to pay the bills, with a little left."
  • On Aug. 14, 2004, craigslist announced that eBay (EBAY) had purchased a 25% stake in the company. The price was reported to be $15 million. Craig said:
    Looking into the future (in 1999), I figured that maybe someday I'd go middle-aged crazy and/or megalomaniacal, and already, "I can resist anything but temptation" (Oscar Wilde) So, with the idea of establishing checks and balances, mostly on myself, I entrusted some equity in craigslist to a guy who was working with me at the time. (I won't name him, out of respect for his privacy)"

    I figured it didn't matter, since everyone agreed that the equity had only symbolic value, not dollar value.

    Well, the guy [Phillip Knowlton] later left the company, and decided to sell his equity, which i learned he had every legal right to do. He met with eBay, and eBay in turn approached us to see how we would feel about them getting involved with us.

    Although I never figured that part of craigslist might be owned by a public company, Meg Whitman and Pierre Omidyar showed that they were interested in us for all the right reasons.
    Regarding the eBay purchase CEO Jim Buckmaster said:
    A former shareholder (identified by the Wall Street Journal as Phillip Knowlton) was looking to sell and approached eBay independently of us. Shortly after the shareholder talked with eBay, eBay was considerate enough to approach us and let us know they were talking. eBay executives said early on they would have zero interest in getting involved in this way unless we thought it was a good idea.
    When asked about what Knowlton has done with the money from eBay, Jim's reply is:
    "We're not really in contact with them so we're not sure what they're doing."
  • On October 10, 2004 the documentary film "24 Hours on Craigslist" was first shown. Eight film crews documented a random day-in-the-life of what has evolved into the world's largest online community. Craig is in the movie and plays himself. His take.

    Filmmaker Michael Ferris Gibson showed just one scene of Craig sitting in front of a computer -- but filmed from behind. Newmark's features are never seen, his voice never heard. "I did that because there's this legendary side to Craig. Like the 'Wizard of Oz' thing."

  • Craig's job description: Chairman & customer service representative. He spends the bulk of his time purging spammers and con artists from the list. He uses his "keyboard of justice" to foil the "evildoers."
    “Customer service always comes first.”

    "A lot of people think there is no Craig -- that I'm like Betty Crocker -- and I kind of like that."
  • Biggest problem (after spammers and Nigerian con artists): Sleazy apartment brokers in Manhattan.
    my biggest single project is dealing with badly behaving apartment brokers in New York.

    They can be very aggressive. We get complaints that they'll list apartments on craigslist as having no fees, then try to extract a fee when people show up. That's a difference of two months' rent.

    I call them. I say this is Craig from craigslist. They say "Oh yeah, and I'm the Easter Bunny."

    I reason with them. And if that doesn't work, we block their listings.
    Craig even returns phantom phone calls regarding real estate listings in New York City.

  • Spirituality:
    "My feeling is that something connecting people to fix the world over time is the deepest spiritual value you can have."
  • His inspirations are:
    "Linus Torvalds and Brian Behlendorf because of the commitment and success with their respective projects, David Letterman because he's obsessed with doing things well, and Leonard Cohen because he's the closest thing I have to a rabbi. On the social/political level, President Josiah Bartlet, which really means Aaron Sorken, which I'm hoping translates to Howard Dean."
  • Politically, Craig has described himself as a moderate in some interviews. Newmark has donated money to the presidential campaign of Democratic Sen. John Kerry, "because he wants to see an honest guy in the White House" and said he supported Republican John McCain when he ran for office.
    "I'm a pretty rabid civil libertarian."
  • Organizations he belongs to:
    --Electronic Frontier Foundation member
    --Michigan Gallery, board member emeritus - "or so they tell me."
    --Board member of Climate Theater
    --Board member of Haight Ashbury Food Program

  • Other projects and charity work:
    --Craig's been a volunteer Internet explainer at the SF Exploratorium's Multimedia Playground.
    --He gave thousands of dollars to the peace group OneVoice. May go to Israel with them.
    --"in a very tiny way, supported the St. James Infirmary, a free clinic for sex workers"
    --"supported both the Arab and Jewish film festivals."
    --donated to a micro-finance group for Palestinian: The Shurush Initiative
    --donated to about 50 schools and nonprofits, including public radio and women's shelters; Hope Flowers School (West Bank)

  • His hairstylist is Tina Balog - a "chatty" lady, who works at Head and Soul, a trendy salon near Fisherman's Wharf. Craig said:
    "Talk to Tina, my hairdresser, I've been going to her for ten years. She‘ll tell you everything you want to know. She has a master's degree in psychology."
    Newmark comes by every three weeks according to Tina. Since he’s practically bald, she doesn’t do more than a little buzz on top and goatee cleanup. Tina says:
    "There is always a stream of gorgeous women coming in and out, so he likes that. He's not really deft at social cues. He really loves women but I think he doesn't know what to do with women, frankly. He's socially kind of introverted and more comfortable with machines than with people."
  • Craig owned a Saturn for over ten years. He now drives a hybrid Prius, but not to work. He prefers public transit, but has been advised by the nutritionist to walk the mile to work.
    "The whole institution of the car is a bad idea.''

    "I love the idea of light rail."
  • He is working with a nutritionist to improve his diet and health. Family history of heart disease.
    "The burgers and onion rings are very good (at Burgermeister), although my nutritionist today reminded me that a burger has to be a rare treat."
  • Craig loves dogs, but does not have one. He often carries a bag of dog jerky with him for the neighborhood dogs.
    "I'm not above buying the affection of dogs."
    Craig with dogs: More dogs!, Dog picnic in Cole Valley; More dogs! More Cole Valley

  • He likes cats too.
    "I like animals. I like cats, but I'm allergic to them. I prefer nature come to me, rather than going to nature. It's so much effort, and you might sweat."
  • Favorite movie: Blade Runner. A giant framed poster from the sci-fi movie "Blade Runner" sits in his spare bedroom which also serves as a home office.

  • John Irving's books have shaped his worldview and he's a cyberpunk buff. He's a fan of mystery novels, especially those by Lindsey Davis, whose protagonist is a detective in ancient Rome, and reads one to two books every week.

  • Besides mysteries, Craig reads books on trends, like Dan Gillmor's "We the Media," a variety of Weblogs including Gawker.com, Defamer.com, Dailykos.com and Wonkette.com.

  • He is also a fan of TV's "Law & Order," "CSI," "The Daily Show," and "David Letterman."

  • music...
    * Leonard Cohen rules.
    * Tori Amos
    * Sarah McLachlan
    * Kinky Friedman
    * Sophie B. Hawkins
    * Warren Zevon RIP
Links:
craigslist
Craig Newmark's blog - resume
craigslist [wikipedia.org]

From tiny newsletter to top Web site [cnn.com, Aug. 4, 2005]
What eBay Could Learn From Craigslist [NY Times, Jun 5, 2005]
Craig Who? [njmonthly.com, April 2005]
A day in the life of . . . Craig Newmark [sfgate.com, Oct. 10, 2004]
Interview With Craig Newmark [onlisareninsrader.com, Nov. 19, 2003]
Mr. Craigslist, Master of the Nerdiverse [Wired, Sept. 2000]
Craigslist Gets Its Name in Lights [Fortune, April 19, 2004]
Craig Newmark: Geek chic? Screw it, I'm a nerd. [developers.sun.com, Oct. 8, 2003]
Are You on Craig's List? [FastCompany]
Craigslist's silent emergence [BBC, Aug. 4, 2005]

updated: Oct. 3, 2005

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Was Jack the Ripper hanged in Dundee, Scotland in 1889?

William Henry Bury - Jack the Ripper suspectDundee is one of the four major cities of Scotland. Dundee is known as 'The City of Discovery' taking that name from Scott of the Antartic's ship "Discovery" which was built in Dundee and returned here a few years ago.

Author Euan MacPherson of Dundee claims that after fifteen years of research he is convinced that William Henry Bury, a disturbed man who arrived in Dundee from London by steamer in January 1889 is Jack the Ripper.

Bury murdered his wife in Dundee by strangling her and plunging a knife into her abdomen. MacPherson also claims the following:

The hangman who executed Bury in April 1889 later told a journalist that he was known to have been Jack the Ripper.

When Bury was arrested two messages in chalk were found at his lodging - one reading "Jack Ripper is at the back of this door".
Currently William Henry Bury, or W.H. Bury, is considered the 10th most likely Jack the Ripper suspect at a popular Ripper website.

Jack the Ripper suspects ranked by popular vote
:
  1. Maybrick, James
  2. Chapman, George
  3. Tumblety, Francis
  4. Barnett, Joseph
  5. Kosminski, Aaron
  6. Lodger, The
  7. Royal Conspiracy, The
  8. Thompson, Francis
  9. Druitt, Montague John
  10. Bury, W.H.
  11. Jill the Ripper
  12. Hutchinson, George (Br.)
  13. Ostrog, Michael
  14. Stephenson, R. D'Onston
  15. Sickert, Walter
  16. Kelly, James
  17. Cream, Dr. Thomas Neill
  18. Stephen, James Kenneth
  19. Albert Victor, Prince
  20. Pedachenko, Dr.
  21. Deeming, Frederick Bailey
  22. Carroll, Lewis
links:
Ripper' hanged in Dundee claim [grampiantv, Aug. 20, 2005]
Who are the most popular Ripper suspects? [casebook.org]
courtesy Prof Hex

Hard 40 for Dennis Rader the Wichita BTK Serial Killer

Dennis L. Rader, the 60-year-old confessed BTK serial killer was sentenced by Judge Greg Waller to a total of 175 years, to be served consecutively on Thursday, August 18, 2005. Specifically, Judge Waller sentenced Rader to nine life terms, each without the possibility for parole for 15 years, and gave him one hard 40 life sentence — 40 years in prison with no chance of parole for the Dee Davis murder. It was the longest sentence the Sedgwick County District Judge could impose. Rader terrorized Wichita, Kansas by killing ten people between January 15, 1974 and January 19, 1991.

On August 19, 2005, Rader arrived at the El Dorado state prison to spend the rest of his life isolated from the world he terrorized for 31 years. Neither Rader's wife nor his children appeared at any of Rader's court appearances or visited him in jail.

The families of the victims have been filing wrongful death suits against Rader. They seek to prevent him from profiting in any way from his crimes. Unfortunately, this will give Rader another chance to be in the spotlight. He is representing himself in the wrongful death lawsuits. The civil trial(s) will probably be broadcast in Wichita, it's also likely that Court TV will televise portions of it. He's not expected to be allowed to leave prison to attend the court proceedings. But he will likely be on a video feed to the courthouse. It is too bad that Rader will get more time in front of the TV cameras.

More details about his killing rampage were revealed this past week:

Once, years ago, Paula Rader, the wife of Dennis Rader, became scared when she found a draft of a disturbing poem in their home. It was about Shirley Vian Relford, a young mother strangled in 1977.

And right before her husband's arrest this past February, she told him he spelled "just like BTK."

That's part of what Rader told investigators about his wife after they arrested him, according to a 92-page court document filed by prosecutors Thursday. It details Rader's crimes and interviews with investigators after his arrest.

But authorities said Friday that there's no indication Paula Rader knew her husband was BTK.

Rader's wife found BTK poem [Wichita Eagle, Aug 20, 2005]

Perhaps, if the Wichita Police had been more forthcoming and fully released all of the BTK communiques decades ago Rader's poor writing, spelling, and grammar would have helped identity him as the BTK Strangler.

For example, the police in Tampa Florida caught serial rapist and killer, Oba Chander, in 1992 when then they ran a billboard campaign with his handwritten notes. Wichita did not run any formal campaign to ask for the public's help in identifying BTK through his many letters.

Rader used his son's scouting trip in January 1991 as cover for the murder of his final victim, Dolores 'Dee' Davis. He left the camp out claiming he had to go home to get something.
he parked his car at the Baptist church at 61st Street North near his Park City home.

"I had a key to that, because that's where the Scouts hung out," Rader confessed to Lee.

Inside the Baptist church, Rader dressed in a dark outfit and put together his "hit kit" -- the bag of tape and cords.

Rader walked nearly two miles across a field and a cemetery to get to Davis' house. She lived in a secluded place, so he heaved a brick through the window of her door after she went to bed.

Rader also stated that his family or "social contacts" limited his ability to do more serial killings. He was also planning an 11th killing this year:
When police arrested Rader in February, it interrupted his scheme to carry out an 11th murder in a 31-year pursuit that he would say took precedence over his family, his church and every other aspect of his life.

"He was a serial killer every minute of every moment of every day,"
O'Connor said outside the courthouse. "He wasn't a father and church leader or Scout leader: those were facades."

Rader called his family "social contacts," and complained they held him back and kept him from killing more people.

"My big problem was my social contacts," Rader told police. "If I was a lone wolf, you have had many more victims. Many more, I guarantee that. Many more.

"When you live at home with a wife, you can't go out and prowl around till 3 or 4 in the morning without your wife being suspicious," Rader continued. "So I had to connect this all with school and work and family life. It was difficult, but that's the way I did it: kind of like a spy."

A meticulous record-keeper, Rader had neat notebooks containing pictures and descriptions of his 10 murders. They were kept at his Park City Hall office. He had planned on putting all of the information on computer files and putting them in a safe-deposit box under an assumed name and leaving it for someone to find after his death.

As a footnote, the release of Dennis Rader's interview with psychologist, Robert Mendoza, to NBC Dateline is still under investigation. Mendoza, a member of Cambridge Forensic Consultants, denies he gave the BTK interview tape to NBC. The two hour "Dateline NBC" special, which aired Friday, Aug. 12, 2005, was built around the interview, in which Rader described in a matter-of-fact manner how he committed each of his 10 murders. NBC officials refused to say how they obtained the tape. Interestingly, Omarosa's Productions, a company run by Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, the former contestant who liked to sabotage her colleagues on the NBC reality show "The Apprentice," taped the Dennis Rader interview. So far Omarosa has not been available for comment.

links:
Families want control of Rader's belongings [Wichita Eagle, Aug. 20, 2005]
Rader's statement at sentencing [Wichita Eagle, Aug. 20, 2005]
BTK sentenced to 10 life terms; families have their say [Wichita Eagle, Aug. 19, 2005]
Excerpts of family members' comments (at sentencing) [Wichita Eagle, Aug. 19, 2005]
Rader arrives at El Dorado prison in chains [Wichita Eagle, Aug. 19, 2005]
Full Transcripts from two days of testimony [Wichita Eagle, Aug. 19, 2005]
Litany of horror [Wichita Eagle, Aug. 18, 2005]
BTK serial killer gets 10 life sentences [Wichita Eagle, Aug. 18, 2005]
BTK tape dispute involves Omarosa [Wichita Eagle, Aug. 18, 2005]
Mendoza denies he gave BTK interview tape to NBC [Wichita Eagle, Aug. 16, 2005]
How did NBC get Rader tape? [Wichita Eagle, Aug. 12, 2005]
'Dateline NBC' to air Dennis Rader interview [Wichita Eagle, Aug. 10, 2005]
Rader asks to be his own lawyer [Wichita Eagle, July 29, 2005]

related TJN links:
Dennis L. Rader Confesses to BTK Murders [Jun. 28, 2005]
Profiling is Junk Science [Mar. 7, 2005]
Dennis L. Rader arrested as Wichita BTK Serial Killer (Dennis Rader's biography) [Feb. 26, 2005]
Beginning of the end: Did they finally catch BTK? [Feb. 25, 2005]
BTK (Bind, Torture, & Kill) Strangler Info

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Nuclear Terrorism: Obtaining Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

In order to make a very simple implosion type nuclear bomb you need a minimum of 33 lbs or 15 kg of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU enriched to 90 percent U-235).

The Union of Concerned Scientists provide some more details:

Uranium occurs naturally, but fortunately not in a form that is directly usable for nuclear weapons. Natural uranium consists mostly of two different "isotopes"—atoms of the same element that differ only in their numbers of neutrons and thus have slightly different weights. Natural uranium contains approximately 0.7 percent uranium-235 (the isotope essential for nuclear weapons) and 99.3 percent uranium-238. To convert natural uranium into a form that can be used in nuclear weapons, it must be "enriched" to increase the concentration of uranium-235.

Enriching uranium is both technically difficult and expensive, as it requires separating isotopes that have very similar chemical and physical properties. The enrichment process is thus the main barrier to producing uranium suitable for use in nuclear weapons.

How much is needed to build a bomb?

The amount of HEU needed to make a nuclear weapon varies with the degree of enrichment and the sophistication of the weapon design. In general, the higher the enrichment level, the less HEU is needed to make a bomb. For a HEU-based nuclear weapon, there are two basic design options: a "gun-type" weapon where two pieces of HEU are brought together quickly and explode, and an "implosion weapon," where a sphere of HEU is rapidly compressed in a highly symmetrical manner. Gun-type weapons are far simpler in design and could likely be built by some terrorist groups. The second is more difficult technically but requires less HEU. Plutonium-based nuclear weapons only work as implosion weapons, with more sophisticated weapons using less plutonium.

The fissile uranium in nuclear weapons usually contains 85% or more of U-235 (weapons-grade), though for a crude inefficient weapon 20% is sufficient (this is called weapons-usable).

Reported Thefts of Nuclear Materials:

In most of the 25 incidents, the material was stolen or is suspected to have originated from nuclear facilities in Russia. Nuclear research institutions, fuel production facilities, and naval fuel depots have been the most frequent sites for successful material diversion.

  • Government-confirmed cases involving weapons-usable material:

    Date of Seizure......Location of Seizure.........Type and Amount of Material

    24 May 1993..........Vilnius, Lithuania..........100 g of 50% HEU
    10 May 1994..........Tengen, Germany..........6.2 g of Plutonium, Pu-239 (99.75%)
    June 1994..........St. Petersburg, Russia..........2.972 kg of 90% HEU
    13 Jun 1994..........Landshut, Germany..........795 mg of 87.7% HEU
    25 Jul 1994..........Munich, Germany..........240 mg of Pu-239
    10 Aug 1994..........Munich airport, Germany..........363 g of Pu-239
    14 Dec 1994..........Prague, Czech Rep..........2.73 kg of 87.7% HEU
    6 Jun 1995..........Prague, Czech Rep...........415 mg of 87.7% HEU
    7 Jun 1995..........Moscow, Russia..........1.7 kg of 21% HEU
    8 Jun 1995..........Ceske Budejovice,Czech Rep...........17 g of 87.7% HEU
    28 May 1999..........Rousse, Bulgaria..........4 g of 72.65% HEU
    2 Oct 1999..........Kara-Balta, Kyrghyzstan..........1.49 g of Pu
    19 Apr 2000..........Batumi, Georgia..........920 g of 30 (±3)% HEU
    16 Sep 2000..........Tbilisi airport, Georgia..........Pu (0.4 g)
    2 Jan 2001..........Liepaja sea port, Latvia..........6 g of Pu in Pu/Be sources
    28 Jan 2001..........Tessaloniki, Greece..........3 g of Pu-239 in anti-static devices
    22 Jul 2001..........Paris, France..........2.5 g of 72.57% HEU

  • Other highly-credible cases involving weapons-usable material:

    Date..........Name of Incident..........Type and Amount of Material

    3 Feb 1992..........Munich, Germany..........Pu (115 mg) in smoke-detectors
    6 Oct 1992..........Podolsk, Russia..........1.5 kg of 90% HEU
    29 Jul 1993..........Andreeva Guba, Russia..........1.8 kg of 36% HEU
    27 Nov 1993..........Sevmorput, Russia..........4.5 kg of 20% HEU
    1992-1997..........Sukhumi,Abkhazia, Georgia..........655 g of 90% HEU
    1998..........Chelyabinsk region, Russia..........18.5 kg of HEU
    2000..........Electrostal, Russia..........3.7 kg of 21% HEU
    2001..........Erlangen, Germany..........0.8 g HEU

Links:
Illicit Trafficking of Weapons-Usable Nuclear Material: Facts and Uncertainties [ecolo.org, Jan. 2004]
Closing the Gaps: Securing High Enriched Uranium in the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe [fas.org]
Nuclear Threat Initiative [nti.org]

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Serial Killer Blog of Joseph Edward Duncan III

Joseph Edward Duncan III
Joseph Edward Duncan III

Accused serial killer Joseph Edward Duncan III has been keeping a blog, called "Blogging the Fifth Nail" on Blogger since January 2004. A Google search finds it described as "The daily thoughts and activities of a 'Level 3 Sex Offender'." Duncan committed his first act of sexual assault 30 years ago, preying on a 5-year-old boy when he was just 12, according to one report.

He is accused of murdering Shasta Groene's family and then abducting her.

The blog, Life With Out Prejudice, on July 11, 2005, is the first place where a connection was made between Duncan and the kidnap and murder of Anthony Michael Martinez, aged 10, Beaumont, CA, on April 4,1997.

On Aug. 3, 2005, more than three weeks after that initial blog post on www.lwop.blogspot.com, authorities announced that Duncan was the prime suspect in the Martinez case.

There is also speculation that Duncan may be responsible for several other kidnapping/murders.

Links:
Joseph E. Duncan III [wikipedia.org]
Blogging the Fifth Nail [Joseph Edward Duncan III]
Police: Duncan is a computer whiz [KARE11.com, Aug. 9, 2005]
Idaho suspect’s records show violent history [MSNBC.com, July 6, 2005]
Evidence examined in Idaho kidnapping [CNN.com, July 3, 2005]
Duncan related cases [The Darkside]
Blogs joining crime fight (sub required) [ktvb.com, Aug 12, 2005]
via Dowbrigade News

updated: Aug. 13, 2005

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Eight Strategies for Surviving a Real Estate Meltdown

Business 2.0 Magazine did a story about eight different ways to make money in real estate no matter if there is a bubble about to burst or not:


  1. Move a Cheap House to a Nice Lot
    Minimum Investment: Less Than $50,000

  2. Hedge the Value of Your House - using a new kind of home insurance
    Minimum Investment: Less Than $50,000

  3. Do a Tax-Free Equity Swap - called a tenants-in-common investment swap or TIC
    Minimum Investment: $250,000

  4. Maximize Downtown Real Estate
    Minimum Investment: $100 million

  5. Start a Self-Storage Business
    Minimum Investment: $200,000

  6. Become a Foreclosure Shark
    Minimum Investment: $50,000

  7. Buy a New Home in a Job-Rich Region (Phoenix, Sacramento, Southern California, Tampa, or Washington, D.C.)
    Minimum Investment: $200,000

  8. Build High-End Prefab Homes
    Minimum Investment: $300,000

links:
8 Ways to Cash in on Real Estate, No Matter Where the Market Goes [Business 2.0]
Real Estate Bubble Watch [TJN]

Monday, August 8, 2005

Google Mapping Sex Offenders

Using Google Maps to display useful information has become very popular. Here is a new site that should be noted by all parents:


Mapsexoffenders.com maps all sex offenders in Delaware, Montana, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, Kentucky, Arizona, Illinois, Tennessee, Wyoming, Hawaii, and Colorado, soon to map all 50 states, in an interactive easy to use way. Sex offender registries have been on the internet for many years but they are hard to find and even more difficult to use. Mapsexoffenders.com is simply a map. Each sex offender is highlighted on the map and you can zoom in to view the address, the offender and other information. The map links to the state registry for additional information such as the vehicles they drive and their convictions. Parents concerned about their neighborhood or those who are moving can use this free service to make sure they are in a safe neighborhood.

More states are being added.

Links:
Mapsexoffenders.com
Google Maps Mania

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Italy's Po River filled with Cocaine Residue

The BBC reported some staggering new scientific research about cocaine consumption in the Po River Valley of northern Italy.

They say they found the equivalent of 40,000 doses a day in the Po valley, home to about five million people.

The study, published by the UK's Environmental Health magazine, tests sewage and rivers for levels of a by-product of cocaine metabolism.

The team say the test has to be refined before being applied on a vast scale.

The chemical found in the urine of cocaine users is called benzoylecgonine, or BE.

It is produced only metabolising cocaine.

Italian river 'full of cocaine' [BBC, Aug. 4, 2005]
Po River [wikipedia.org]

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

The BTK Serial Killer Pleads Guilty

  • On June 27, 2005, Dennis L. Rader the Wichita BTK (Bind-Torture-Kill) serial killer (or strangler) plead guilty to ten murders. He very calmly and coldly described in detail the killings. He made no apologies. He will be sentenced on August 17, 2005.

    Rader's confession video online (in RealMedia format) [courtesy KWCH-TV]
    Rader's testimony (written transcript) [kansas.com, June 28, 2005]

  • Larry Hatteberg interviewed Dennis Rader soon after his guilty plea:
    So does Rader have any remorse over the killings?

    "Yes, I do."

    But with that admission, he changes the subject and says,

    "Very compartmentalized. I can wear many hats; I can switch gears very rapidly. I can become emotionally involved. Be cold at it. Maybe that is something I will finally figure out, if I ever figure it out. It's history."

    I asked what he would say to the victims families.

    "I had mentioned earlier, I have a lot of remorse, I feel very sorry for them. I know that is something I wouldn't want to have happen to my family. I look in Mr. Fox's eyes, I saw him on TV once, and I see the tears in his eyes, I feel for him. I feel for them. I know they won't understand that, but I do."

    In the Otero murders, four members of Joseph Otero's family died including two children: Josephine and Joseph Otero Jr. I asked, how he could kill children, especially when he had kids of his own.

    "That's a very hard question. I think in the long run, it was a sexual fantasy, the children."

    Then he said he committed that crime more towards the adults than the children. He says the children just happened to be there.

    BTK: The Search For Answers [KAKE-TV, Jul 6, 2005]

  • Rader will go to prison at The El Dorado Correctional facility, which will be his home until he dies. About prison, Rader said, "It can't be that bad." He referred to it as the “old soldiers home.” Rader added that in the Sedgwick County Jail so far, he has learned how to rob a bank and start a fire; he referred to it as “crime 101.”

    More Details About BTK [KAKE-TV, Jul 7, 2005]

  • The suburban, Park City, Kansas, house where Dennis Rader quietly raised his family while terrorizing Wichita as the BTK serial killer was sold at auction on Monday, July 11, 2004, for $90,000 -- $33,000 more than the appraised value ($56,700).

    The winning bidder was a Derby, Kansas, exotic-dance-club owner, Michelle Borin, a woman familiar to Wichitans from her late-night Michelle's Beach House commercials.

    Boren said she only hoped that all the proceeds would go to Rader's wife and two grown children.

    Rader's house sells for $90,000 [kansas.com, July 12, 2005]

  • David Bennett was running from Park City, Kansas, police on a cold night in November 2004 when he hid in Dennis Rader's backyard shed. This is before Rader was at BTK suspect. He recently talked about what he found.

    Man Talks About Strange Things Found In Dennis Rader’s Shed [kake.com, July 14, 2005]

  • Dennis Rader's description of his crimes -- in letters to police that have just been released to reporters -- was far uglier than the emotionless account he gave in court last month.

    A letter detailing how BTK killed his first four victims portrays a family in terror.

    BTK describes his own crimes [kansas.com, July 16, 2005]

  • A 38-year-old woman, Kristin Casarona, of Topeka, Kansas has befriended the BTK serial killer, Dennis Rader, discussing faith and family with him in letters and visits.

    Topekan sees Rader differently [FortWayne.com, June 24, 2005]

  • Paula Rader has been granted an emergency divorce from Dennis Rader, the admitted BTK serial killer.

    BTK's wife gets emergency divorce [Kansas.com, July 26, 2005]
    Paula E. Rader Divorce Decree (pdf) [kansas.com, July 26, 2005]
    photo of Paula Rader - Charter Member Christ Lutheran

  • Confessed serial killer Dennis Rader will represent himself in a series of wrongful death lawsuits filed against him by several relatives of his 10 murder victims.

    Rader asks to be his own lawyer [kansas.com, Jul 29, 2005]
    Rader files to represent himself (.pdf) [kansas.com]

    links:
    BTK (Bind, Torture, & Kill) Strangler Info [TJN]
    Dennis L. Rader arrested as Wichita BTK Serial Killer [TJN]

  • Monday, August 1, 2005

    10 Foods You Should Never Eat


    1. Pepperidge Farm Flaky Crust Chicken Pot Pie - 1020 calories, Sat Fat: 18 grams, Trans Fat: 13 grams - "A Meal Solution"

    2. McDonald's Chicken Selects Premium Breast Stripes (5 piece) - 630 calories, 33 total grams of fat, & 1,550 mg of sodium vs Big Mac: 560 calories, 30 grams of fat, and 1,010 mg of sodium

    3. 6 Carb Original Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory - 1 slice has 610 calories, 29 grams of saturated fat equal to an 8 oz. prime rib

    4. Marie Callender's Herb Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli Florets & Carrots - 530 calories, 12 grams of saturated fat, and 1270 mg of sodium

    5. Mrs. Fields Milk Chocolate & Walnuts cookie - One cookie (65 grams) has: 320 calories, 9 grams of saturated fat, 26 grams of sugar

    6. Starbucks Venti Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino Blended Creme - 770 calories, 10 grams of saturated fat, 480 mg of sodium

    7. Burger King French Fries (king size) - 600 calories, 8 grams of saturated fat, 1,070 mg of sodium

    8. Campbell's red-and-white-label condensed soups - 800+ mg of sodium (salt)

    9. Hershey Swoops - 1 cup (35 gram) serving has 190 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 18 grams of sugar

    10. Haagen-Dazs Mint Chip Dazzler - (three scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, Oreos, chocolate sprinkles, and whipped cream) 1,270 calories, 38 grams of saturated fat equals a T-bone steak with Caesar salad, and baked potatoe with sour cream

    link:
    Nutritional Action Healthletter
    more bad food

    Calculated Risk

    MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

    Paul Krugman - NY Times

    The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

    naked capitalism - Yves Smith

    Pragmatic Capitalism

    Washington's Blog

    Safe Haven

    Paper Economy

    The Daily Reckoning - Australia