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Bizarre Air Force Low-level “Photo-op” Terrorizes New York

Bizarre Air Force Low-level “Photo-op” Terrorizes New York

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and CNN are reporting that today, April 27, 2009, an “Air Force I lookalike” and two F-16 jet fighters frightened New Yorkers with low-level maneuvers over Manhattan and New Jersey.

Photo by New York Times reader Dan Kohn, of two Air Force jets conducting low-level maneuvers over ManhattanPhoto by New York Times reader Jim Brown showing low-level flyby of Air Force AF-25 jetJim Brown's photo of Air Force Jet flying low-level maneuvers over New York

Many office buildings were evacuated and people who had lived through 9/11 were re-traumatized. The New York Times reported that during the exercise, the Dow-Jones dropped 40 points in ten minutes.

The Associated Press reported, “A Boeing 747 used by the president was escorted over lower Manhattan by an Air Force fighter jet Monday as part of a government photo opportunity and training mission, causing a brief panic among office workers near ground zero.”

The Wall Street Journal had this:

The U.S. Air Force confirmed that an “aerial photo mission,” which involved an F-16 fighter jet, had been carried out Monday in the area of New York City by the Presidential Airlift Group, which according to the White House Web site is responsible for maintaining and operating presidential airliner Air Force One.

“This mission was conducted in conjunction with normally scheduled continuation training for assigned aircrew members,” the Air Force said in a statement. The mission was scheduled to last from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. EDT.

A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said the maneuver wasn’t an emergency and was coordinated in advance with state and local officials. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates bridges, tunnels and airports in the area, said initially the agency had no knowledge of the low-flying plane, according to a spokesman. But several Port Authority executives, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to an ongoing investigation, said that the agency received a memo from the FAA, but not until sometime Monday morning.

“Information in this document shall not be released to the public or media,” the memo instructed. “Public affairs posture for this effort is passive.”

The memo specifically directed local agencies not to tell the public about the photo shoot, according to a government official. The memo detailed the nature of the event and the flight details, saying there would be a transport and fighter aircraft flying over New York Harbor.

Note WSJ story has been updated: 8th WSJ UPDATE: Airplane ‘Photo Op’ Angers 9/11 Witnesses

The WSJ now notes:

The White House had planned a second photo shoot of a jumbo jet used as Air Force One in Washington D.C next month. The follow-up session would have taken place May 5 or May 6, using the nation’s capital as a backdrop, according to two government officials.

One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Washington photo session is being reconsidered, given the reaction to Monday’s flight in New York.

You think?

I am really curious about the “photo-op” aspect of this mission. Has nobody heard of Photoshop? Was this still photography, or part of some video project? Who and where were the photographers?

What was so important about this mission that there could be no prior public announcement, and why must the planes operate at such low altitudes over a populated area?

Very odd indeed.

Air Force One Photo-Op Scares the Crap Out of Manhattan
Low-level flight panics New York
Readers: Did You See the Low-Flying Jet Over Lower Manhattan?

Update: More from CNN:

After a YouTube video showed panicked New Yorkers scrambling as a Boeing 747 flew frighteningly close to the lower Manhattan skyline, a former Homeland Security adviser questioned whether the man who approved the flyby should remain in his White House office…

Witnesses reported seeing the plane circle over the Upper New York Bay near the Statue of Liberty before flying up the Hudson River.

The YouTube video shows dozens of people standing in a parking lot, watching the plane approach. As it nears, they begin to run. Someone unleashes an expletive. “Run, run!” says one person. “Oh my God,” cries another.

Copyright © 2009 Henry Edward Hardy

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27 April, 2009 Posted by | 9/11, Air Force One, government, New York, news, photo-op, propaganda, scanlyze, state of fear, terrorism, US Air Force | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Computerized Internet Censorship is Morally Wrong

This is taken from a response I made on a mailing list discussing technical means of implementing “filtering”, or computerized censorship, of children’s access to the internet in a school environment.

I’m a bit disturbed when I hear people using the euphemism “filtering” for automated, computerized censorship. I understand there may be legislative or political mandates. However, we should never talk about this as though it is a good or desirable or acceptable thing.

I realize this may be seen as off topic from the merely technical discussion of how to implement computerized censorship, but when we calmly discuss technicalities of something which is obviously wrong without questioning it, then the discussion needs to be aired.

“Filtering” is what you do to the water in a fish tank. “Censorship” is when a state or quasi-state agency proscribes and limits access to certain classes of written material.

Here are a few tests we should apply to any such proposed system.

Does it allow access to information about “Romeo and Juliet”? (Underage sex, gang-oriented violence, suicide, murder)

Does it allow access to “Huckleberry Finn” (Slavery, frequent use of the word “nigger”)

Does it allow access to “The Catcher in the Rye” (Use of “fuck”, blasphemy, drinking, smoking, lying, promiscuity, implied pederasty)

Does it allow access to “Heather has Two Mommies” (Lesbianism)

Does it allow access to “Our Bodies, Ourselves” (Information about human health, sex and sexuality)

Does it allow access to “Slaughterhouse-Five” (Genocide, strategic bombing, sex)

Does it allow access to “Of Mice and Men” (Retardation, sex, rape, murder)

Does it allow access to “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Sexual roles, patriarchy, racism, and theocracy)

Does it allow access to “The Kite Runner” (Homosexuality, rape)

Does it allow access to “His Dark Materials” (Anti-state, anti-catholic, magic and witchcraft)

Does it allow access to “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (Alchemy, murder, debauchery)

Does it allow access to “1984” (Torture, illicit sex, anti-state and anti-party politics)

Does it allow access to “Canterbury Tales” (Promiscuity, anti-clericalism)

Does it allow access to “The Decameron” (Anti-state, anti-Catholic and general ribaldry, such as the Third Day, Tenth Story, “How to put the Devil in Hell”)

And in terms of websites particularly,






Sites which criticize the ruling party or government.

Sites which criticize or parody the predominant religion.

Blogs, in general

And classes of internet services such as



Peer-to-peer file-sharing services such as Bittorrent, EMule, Gnutella

In general, censorship is bad and morally wrong; and automated, computerized censorship especially so; and we should never refer to it by a purpose-made and innocuous-sounding term like “filtering” or treat it as though it is morally or pedagogically acceptable.

What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.

–Sigmund Freud, 1933

See: Filtering / Censorship

Copyright © 2009 Henry Edward Hardy

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27 April, 2009 Posted by | books, censorship, culture, education, file-sharing, filtering, literature, scanlyze | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the Pirate Bay Convictions in Sweden

Thoughts on the Pirate Bay Convictions in Sweden

The lawyer for four men found guilty of criminal copyright offenses in Sweden is now calling for a retrial. Attorney Peter Althin, who represents the Pirate Bay, alleges that Judge Tomas Norstrom, “is a member of the Swedish Copyright Association and sits on the board of Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property,” according to the BBC.

Judge Norstrom has told Sveriges Radio, “These activities do not constitute a conflict of interest.”

see and/or hear:
Pirate Bay Judge Conflict of Interest?
Domaren tillbakavisar anklagelser om jäv
The Pirate Bay sentenced to one year in prison
Fredrik Söderling: The Pirate Bay sentence is surprisingly harsh

This controversy has led to an active discussion with one of my Swedish friends. [The following is edited for spelling, accuracy, and clarity]

We were discussing the deficiencies of the various left parties in Sweden (Social Democratic, Left, Green, and various communist and anarchist affiliations).

I declared,

If I was in Sweden now I would vote Pirate Party because the verdict against Neij, Svartholm, Lundström, and Sunde. The myth of Swedish freedom of expression is seen as what it is, a sham and a fraud wholly at the whim of moneyed foreign interests. As soon as those interests are at play, any pretense at freedom of speech or of scholarship is out the window.

Pirate Bay did nothing whatsoever different as a matter of law, than what Google or the Internet Archive do. They published a search engine and links to online material, period. Not the material itself. The decision is not criminalizing copyright infringement, it is criminalizing knowledge, and the dissemination of knowledge, about where certain files are shared, which knowledge is voluntarily taken from the public sphere and released there also.

What they were really convicted of is disrespecting authority and making the “adults” look stupid and feel ignorant. Try searching on “warez” on google. Hope your Swedish police don’t arrest you for that too.

I haven’t read the court decision, if you find it please link and I will at least try with Babelfish and my Norstedts. But it seems a really horrible decision and an attack on any scholar who makes an index or union catalog of information.

I know this must be a controversy at home too. I suppose DN has my view and SD has the other? Or no, both feel threatened by new media?”

She replied, “Do you think artists should have an income out of their work or do you think they shouldn’t? Do you think the shoe polisher should get money for polishing your shoes or do you think he shouldn’t? Do you think society should pay for an artists work or should those buying it?

Enclosed is the court decision. Just ask me if there is something I could translate for you!”

I’ve yet to wade through the court decision, but my initial response is below:

That isn’t the right question to ask I think. If one goes to the library and looks in Chemical Abstracts for how to make a dangerous chemical like an explosive or poison, we don’t arrest the librarians; we don’t arrest the editors of Chemical Abstracts or the makers of the catalog of information from which the abstract is found.

Pirate Bay was not accused of holding or receving any copyrighted information. They provided services like a library or union catalog to where such information could be found. This is no different from Google or from any library or encyclopaedia.

If people engage in copyright violations then the law can hold them accountable. But if anyone who compiles a list or catalog, whether online or not of merely where information can be found, it is profoundly unjust to hold them responsible for the acts of others whom they have never met and have no control over or responsibility for.

I’m sure one could go into the library at KTH or the National Library or some similar place and find chemical manufacturing information to make a poison or a bomb. Should we then arrest library directors or the publishers of abstracts of scientific information?

If this decision stands, then Google, and all public libraries must also be subject to having their responsible officers criminally penalized anytime anyone misuses information they find through such a service. This would be profoundly undemocratic and would not, in fact, do anything to catch the actual perpetrators of the hypothetical crime.

Further, many artists never receive ANY payments from the agencies which allegedly take payments for them. The generally have to engage in protracted court struggles (at least in US) and then receive only a fraction of a penny compared to the dollars received by publishers. For instance, when court action resulted in a 270 million dollar settlement from Napster, artist’s managers complained that the artists they represented received nothing.


The RIAA which allegedly represents the interests of recording artists in the US, is both suing users and pursuing cases like the case against Pirate Bay while at the same time pushing artists royalties ever lower and lower, keeping the rest of the money for the companies they represent:

RIAA Wants Songwriter Royalty Lowered

Also, in the US we have a concept called “fair use”. This “fair use” doctrine holds that copyrighted material can be used as part of creating another artistic work (as in a collage or montage), for purposes of journalism or review, or for educational purposes. This doctrine is being very much eroded.

Fair Use (wikipedia)
Copyright Fair Use

Another common law doctrine in the US is called the “right of first sale”. This holds that you can’t for instance sell me a chair but make conditions on how I the buyer can use it. If I buy a chair, I can sit in it. I can resell it. I can let someone else sit in it. I can destroy it. I can take it apart to learn about how it is constructed. That is because I bought it.

First-sale doctrine

Further, the purpose of copyright is to grant a limited license to an author or inventor for a *limited time* so that eventually, the invention will come into free use for everyone.

“The Congress shall have the power…To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;”

US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8

So the correct question is not “does this give authors and inventors enough rights” the question should be “are works and inventions coming into the public domain soon enough to be of use to all”.

Some large corporations are standing this moral principle on its head, pretending to be acting in the interests of writers and inventors but actually paying such persons little or nothing in reality.

I do use bittorrent for purposes like updates to computer games I subscribe to, and I never download illegal material. Legal users of a legal service should be protected, and so should the maintainers of that service.

I’ll dig into the opinion and see if [it] address[es] any of these points. Obviously my reasoning and examples so far are from a very US-centric point of view.

As we say, IMHO.

see also: The Pirate Bay
Pirate Party plans election raid

Copyright © 2009 Henry Edward Hardy

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23 April, 2009 Posted by | BitTorrent, conflict of interest, injustice, law, media, news, peer-to-peer, Pirate Bay, politics, scanlyze, Sweden | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment