Wednesday, April 20, 2011

IRA, Navy Secrets, A Drive-Through Funeral and other things to talk about

I was watching ABC’s Good Morning America and saw a report that really bothered me. Brian Ross (an ABC Reporter) detailed the recent return of some Irish groups (spin offs from the IRA) who may want to gain attention with a violent attack on the upcoming Royal Wedding. Ross said one group, the “real IRA” may be preparing a strike in the coming weeks.

Professor Paul Bew, of Queens University in Belfast, told Ross “there is something new in play here,” indicating the rise of a splinter group that rejects the thirteen year old peace deal that brought an end to violence in Northern Ireland. In his report Ross said the group is well-armed and skilled at making bombs. The group is also believed to have rocket or mortar launchers, which could allow terrorists to bomb an event like the Royal Wedding from a distance of more than 300 yards.

I hope this turns out to be merely precautionary and that nothing of this kind actually happens. The years of violence in Northern Ireland has all but disappeared from the world’s memory and Ireland enjoys a well deserved period of peace. Something like this could easily spark renewed tension and a return to the violence of the past.
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U.S. Naval Secrets Revealed On Internet In ‘Potentially Catastrophic’ Redaction Effort

In a screwup described as “potentially catastrophic” by a Conservative Member of Parliament, British military officials accidentally allowed the release of secret naval information. Apparently what happened was that Ministry of Defense documents were released with sensitive information redacted, but the blacked-out portions could be restored by simply copying and pasting the document into another document.

The error was reported by the Guardian:

The offending paragraphs have now been properly covered up [PDF] but were reported to have included expert opinion about the fleet’s ability to withstand a catastrophic accident.

This little incident made for some very long nights at the US Naval Headquarters as well because details of measures used by the US navy to protect its nuclear submarines were also accidentally made available.

As the Guardian explains, “some parts of the declassified document were redacted when it was published to protect sensitive information but the technique used meant the words were still electronically available underneath.”

My guess is that some civil servants at the Ministry of Defense are now checking the classifieds for possible career changes….
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You can Pay Your Respects without getting out of your car

In a sign of our society’s increasingly fast life style, convenience now extends even to funerals. At one funeral parlor here in Southern California visitors are greeted by a huge red-lettered sign above the entrance of the stone building on East Palmer Street directing people to the “drive through viewing area. Off to the side of the main double doors is the covered and paved 12-foot wide drive-thru, its long glass display window visible from the street.

A quick check of the internet showed that there are actually a handful of drive-thru funeral parlors operating across the country. There's at least one in Chicago, another in Louisiana. Personally, this just goes a bit too far for me. It is actually a little chilling to think that paying your final respects has been reduced to the quality of a fast food drive thru….

Live Long and Prosper....

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