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Bills would weaken water protections

Posted on February 13th, 2015 at 10:36 by John Sinteur in category: batshitinsane, News


A year after a toxic leak contaminated drinking water for 300,000 residents, West Virginia lawmakers are considering a series of proposals that would weaken a new chemical tank safety law, remove stronger pollution protections for streams across the state, and protect the coal industry from enforcement actions over violations of water quality standards.


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  1. This one is from the Onion too, right? Right?

  2. Maybe it would be a good idea to let the States decide which environmental laws they want to enforce. Of course, we wouldn’t let them ship their pollution out of state. Then we could see which people really want to live in a cesspool. It’s would make it much easier to identify the red states.

The Fall of Yemen

Posted on February 13th, 2015 at 0:10 by John Sinteur in category: News


Yemen has fallen. In a striking series of events which has largely flown under the radar except in occasional cable-tv news blurbs – the nominally pro-Western government of Yemen has been overthrown by Iranian-backed militants. American and British forces have hastily “evacuated” — an evacuation which may, perhaps, be interpreted as a retreat. Militants have seized abandoned American weapon stockpiles, and a massive defeat for the United States and her allies has gone virtually unnoticed.
Yemen has been a focus of President Obama’s ongoing war on Islamic militancy. Both the United States military and the CIA were known to operate secret bases within the Arabian peninsula, and to carry out “targeted killings” against alleged Al-Qaeda operatives from these bases “with the blessing of the [former Yemeni] government“.

It is possible, ironically, that the ongoing strikes against Al-Qaeda leadership in Yemen (in which an estimated 90-140 civilians have been killed, many of whom were children) may have damaged the Sunni militancy enough to inadvertently strengthen Iran’s position in the country.

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DRM Kitty Litter: The Only Thing Stupider than DRM Coffee

Posted on February 13th, 2015 at 0:04 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


Earlier this year, we told you about Keurig’s attempt to quash off-brand coffee by integrating DRM into its newest model of brewing machine. At the time, we thought that coffee barons locking their customers into name-brand coffee pods was the most boneheaded deployment of DRM we’d ever seen.

Turns out, we were wrong.

You know what else features DRM these days? Kitty litter. Welcome to the future, people. Now, even your cat’s crap comes with a steaming side of corporate crap.

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New High-Tech Farm Equipment Is a Nightmare for Farmers

Posted on February 12th, 2015 at 23:52 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


The family farmer who owns this tractor is a friend of mine. He just wanted a better way to fix a minor hydraulic sensor. Every time the sensor blew, the onboard computer would shut the tractor down. It takes a technician at least two days to order the part, get out to the farm, and swap out the sensor. So for two days, Dave’s tractor lies fallow. And so do his fields.

Dave asked me if there was some way to bypass a bum sensor while waiting for the repairman to show up. But fixing Dave’s sensor problem required fiddling around in the tractor’s highly proprietary computer system—the tractor’s engine control unit (tECU): the brains behind the agricultural beast.

One hour later, I hopped back out of the cab of the tractor. Defeated. I was unable to breach the wall of proprietary defenses that protected the tECU like a fortress. I couldn’t even connect to the computer. Because John Deere says I can’t.

Fuck the DMCA. You know things are bad when people are still fixing and using and buying and selling those old Ford N-series tractors, 60 years after production stopped.

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Twitter’s Chief Sees Plenty of Money in Tweet Flow

Posted on February 12th, 2015 at 23:47 by John Sinteur in category: If you're in marketing, kill yourself


Twitter’s core business of selling ads that are inserted into the flow of tweets that every user sees has plenty of room to grow, he said. The social network’s ideal model is for ads to make up about one in 20 tweets that the average user sees — the same level that Facebook strives for. “We’re well below that now,” he said.

Ah. Well, that explains why I use either as little as I can. For twitter that means “not at all”

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  1. Not a twitter twat, then?

Apple CEO Tim Cook Speaking Live at 2015 Goldman Sachs Technology Conference

Posted on February 11th, 2015 at 20:46 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Privacy


Following up on the payment space, most of your competitors are collecting personal data. You’re not.

We believe customers have a right to privacy, and the vast majority of customers don’t want people knowing everything about them. When you make a purchase, we make a little bit of money. It’s very simple, very straightforward. You are not our product, that’s our product. There’s no need for us to know what you’re buying, where you’re buying, I don’t want to know any of that. We think customers will rebel on that. Similar with HealthKit…you want control over that. So we think over the arc of time, consumers will go with people they trust with their data. People are unknowingly sharing things with others, and info can be pieced together. Over time people will realize this more and demand privacy.

So with Apple Pay we needed something easier than pulling out a credit card, we knew it needed to be secure as well. We never give the merchant your credit card number. We don’t even have it. We’re making up a proxy for each transaction. Think about it…how secure is a card with your number on the front, and then a security code on the back! So Apple Pay had to be private. We’re facilitating a transaction between you, the merchant, and the bank.

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  1. From the Dutch newspaper AD today:
    Apple neemt ook op wat mensen zeggen als ze via hun iPhone of iPad gebruikmaken van de dienst Siri. Zij sturen niet direct herkenbare informatie eveneens naar servers op afstand om te vertalen. De telefoongigant anonimiseert de gesprekken door ze te koppelen aan een ander telefoonnummer dan dat van de gebruiker. Apple bewaart de informatie, volgens sommigen tot wel twee jaar, wel om meer te leren over de voorkeuren en patronen van de gebruiker.

  2. Loosely translated: “Using the Siri service, Apple records what people say when they are using their iPhone or iPad. They send information to remote servers to translate. Apple anonymizes the information by linking them to a different phone number than that of the user. Accordingly, Apple stores the information up to two years to learn more about the preferences and patterns of the user.”

    Which begs the question: If they anonymize it, what good is it if the user cannot be identified? Sounds like bullshit.

  3. @Mykolas: It’s the fig leaf if the data get stolen. “We made it hard to read.”

Dawkins among atheists urging Irish PM to hold blasphemy law referendum

Posted on February 11th, 2015 at 20:13 by John Sinteur in category: News


The academics, authors and political campaigners point out that Ireland is the only European country to have introduced a blasphemy law in the 21st century. At the UN Human Rights Council in 2009, Pakistan proposed adopting the precise wording of the Irish blasphemy law as part of the Organisation of Islamic Co-Operation’s campaign to outlaw criticism or mockery of religions.

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  1. B’Jasus!

  2. Don’t make me drag out that “Fuck the pope!” joke again! It’s even older and weaker than it was last time…

Jails Have Become Warehouses for the Poor, Ill and Addicted, a Report Says

Posted on February 11th, 2015 at 19:37 by John Sinteur in category: batshitinsane


The study, “Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America,” found that the majority of those incarcerated in local and county jails are there for minor violations, including driving with suspended licenses, shoplifting or evading subway fares, and have been jailed for longer periods of time over the past 30 years because they are unable to pay court-imposed costs.

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A Tale of Two Zippers

Posted on February 11th, 2015 at 11:54 by John Sinteur in category: News


This begs the question of why is it that some zippers have fully automated assembly procesess, whereas others are semi-automatic?

The answer, it turns out, is very subtle, and it boils down to this:


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  1. Love bunnie :-)

Jon Stewart says he’s leaving The Daily Show

Posted on February 11th, 2015 at 9:40 by John Sinteur in category: News


Comedy Central just sent out this official statement confirming the news, and saying that Stewart will remain with The Daily Show until later this year. It also says that the show will “endure for years to come,” suggesting that it won’t end with Stewart

I can only assume CNN offered him a spot on Crossfire.

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When Comcast won’t listen, you go Momcast.

Posted on February 10th, 2015 at 23:49 by John Sinteur in category: News


Tattling on someone to their mother isn’t typically the way adults go about getting results… but then again, Comcast isn’t your typical company and special measures are usually required to get things done.

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Tim Cook’s big day: Apple hits $700 billion

Posted on February 10th, 2015 at 23:46 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


By any measure, it was an epic day for Tim Cook.

On Tuesday he was sitting on stage at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco being interviewed by Goldman Sachs president Gary D. Cohn when Apple became the first U.S. company to close at more than $700 billion in market value on Tuesday.

“You will always remember exactly where you were,” Cohn said to Cook.

The milestone caught the attention of the financial world, some of whom had flocked to the Goldman Sachs conference to hear Cook speak on a wide range of subjects from the growth possibilities in China market to the upcoming Apple watch.

Ears perked up when Cook said cash-rich Apple would announce its cash distribution plans on its quarterly earnings call in April.

But Cook also made headlines with what he called Apple’s “biggest and boldest project ever.”

Apple has formed a partnership with First Solar to build an $848 million, 1,300-acre solar farm in Monterey County to power its headquarters, data center in Newark, Calif., all Apple offices and 52 Apple stores in California.

The solar farm will result in significant energy cost savings for Apple, Cook said.

“We know at Apple that climate change is real. Our view is that the time for talk is past and the time for action is now,” Cook said.

List to the interview

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  1. Just to put the $700 billion in perspective, that’s more than twice the market cap of Microsoft, which is the third largest company. (Microsoft closed today at $349.5 billion)

  2. Unbelievable, making those crummy products and still progressing. It’s like Coca Cola….


Posted on February 10th, 2015 at 21:19 by John Sinteur in category: Joke

On a beautiful summer’s day, two English tourists were driving through Wales. At Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, they stopped for lunch, and one of the tourists asked the waitress “Before we order, I wonder if you could settle an argument for us”. Can you pronounce where we are, very, very, very slowly?” The girl leaned over and said “Burrr-Gurrr-King”

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  1. She must have been flipped out, or very least well done

  2. snort!

Ask not…

Posted on February 10th, 2015 at 18:32 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


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  1. Actually, the dogs I know bark for any freaking thing, so don’t feel all special.

Samsung Smart TV: If you don’t mind, I’ll take one that’s a little more stupid

Posted on February 10th, 2015 at 14:32 by John Sinteur in category: Do you feel safer yet?


Imagine if your television was listening to everything you said in front of it. Hold on, actually, this doesn’t need to be a thought experiment. Simply pop down to the shops and buy a Samsung Smart TV (from £280) and voilá, in your living room, nestled up against the wall, will sit a device that listens to all the conversation within earshot. And records it. And then sends it on to another company for analysis. Do you have a copy of 1984 to hand? Best get one…


Worse still, this all happens even if you don’t turn voice recognition on, as Samsung says: “If you do not enable Voice Recognition, you will not be able to use interactive voice recognition features, although you may be able to control your TV using certain predefined voice commands. While Samsung will not collect your spoken word, Samsung may still collect associated texts and other usage data so that we can evaluate the performance of the feature and improve it.”

Samsung’s responded to widespread discussion of its privacy policy by insisting the data it collects is encrypted and cannot be accessed or used by unauthorised parties.

and THEY get to decide who is authorized!

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  1. oh, like i would have gotten that.

  2. What’s both amusing and annoying to me?

    I laughed at my friend when he covered up his laptop camera with black electrical tape.

    He says we live in an artificial environment with aliens doing experiments on us. I told him I didn’t believe in God. Perhaps he meant the Koreans.

  3. Aside from privacy issues, “Is encrypted” — right. At some point it needs to be decrypted and processed. But nothing to worry about, big companies have excellent security, what could possibly go wrong? Just ask Target, Home Depot, Sony………

Impossible Escape?

Posted on February 10th, 2015 at 9:27 by John Sinteur in category: News


It’s one of those proverbial prisoner problems where you are condemned to die unless you can prove your intelligence to a devious jailer. You, and your friend, are incarcerated. Your jailer offers a challenge. If you complete the challenge you are both free to go. Here are the rules:

  • The jailer will take you into a private cell. In the cell will be a chessboard and a jar containing 64 coins.

  • The jailer will take the coins, one-by-one, and place a coin on each square on the board. He will place the coins randomly on the board. Some coins will be heads, and some tails (or maybe they will be all heads, or all tails; you have no idea. It’s all at the jailers whim. He may elect to look and choose to make a pattern himself, he may toss them placing them the way they land, he might look at them as he places them, he might not …). If you attempt to interfere with the placing of the coins, it is instant death for you. If you attempt to coerce, suggest, or persuade the jailer in any way, instant death. All you can do it watch.

  • Once all the coins have been laid out, the jailer will point to one of the squares on the board and say: “This one!” He is indicating the magic square. This square is the key to your freedom.

  • The jailer will then allow you to turn over one coin on the board. Just one. A single coin, but it can be any coin, you have full choice. If the coin you select is a head, it will flip to a tail. If it is a tail it will flip to a head. This is the only change you are allowed to make to the jailers initial layout.

  • You will then be lead out of the room. If you attempt to leave other messages behind, or clues for your friend … yes, you guessed it, instant death!

  • The jailer will then bring your friend into the room.

  • Your friend will look at the board (no touching allowed), then examine the board of coins and decide which location he thinks is the magic square.

  • He gets one chance only (no feedback). Based on the configuration of the coins he will point to one square and say: “This one!”

  • If he guesses correctly, you are both pardoned, and instantly set free. If he guesses incorrectly, you are both executed.

  • The jailer explains all these rules, to both you and your friend, beforehand and then gives you time to confer with each other to devise a strategy for which coin to flip.

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  1. For 2×2, giving you four bits, taking head and tail as binary 0,1 that gives 16 different combinations. You have to encode 4 different refernce numbers, one for each cell.

    The first pair of bits could be the cell number, the second pair tell you to invert that, if the number of bits in the second half is odd or even.

Jamaica Passes Landmark Marijuana Law On The 70th Birthday Of Bob Marley

Posted on February 8th, 2015 at 23:34 by John Sinteur in category: News


On Friday, the Jamaica Senate finally passed a new marijuana law that will change the social landscape of the small Caribbean nation forever.

Historic legislation that makes the possession of two ounces or less of marijuana a non-arrestable, but ticketable offense was passed after a five-hour debate in parliament.

Meanwhile, the small Caribbean nation celebrated what would have been the 70th birthday of a global icon. That global icon, Bob Marley, is easily recognizable by his long steely dreadlocks, bright smile, and, of course, music that has penetrated the four corners of the earth.

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  1. High time, if you ask me :-)

There’s a Measles Outbreak at Vaccine-Denying Pastor Kenneth Copeland’s Fort Worth Church | Dallas Observer

Posted on February 8th, 2015 at 12:33 by John Sinteur in category: Boo hoo poor you


For several days now, state health officials have been sounding the alarm about a nascent measles outbreak in North Texas. As of Friday, there had been nine confirmed cases, a number that will grow as new reports from local health agencies filter up to the state.

The epicenter of the outbreak is Tarrant County, which has now confirmed 10 cases, and the epicenter of cases in Tarrant County seems to be at Eagle Mountain International Church.

Pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons delivered the news in a sermon last Wednesday:

There has been a … confirmed case of the measles from the Tarrant County Public Health Department. And that is a really big deal in that America, the United States has been essentially measles free for I think it’s 10 years. And so when measles pops up anywhere else in the United States, the health department — well, you know, it excites them. You know what I mean I don’t mean. I don’t mean they’re happy about it, but they get very excited and respond to it because it doesn’t take much for things like that to spread.

The sermon was awkward, to say the least. Pearsons is the eldest daughter of megapastor Kenneth Copeland, and her church is one of the cornerstones of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, his sprawling evangelical empire. He’s far from the most vocal proponent of the discredited theory that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine causes autism, but, between his advocacy of faith healing and his promotion of the vaccine-autism link on his online talk show, he’s not exactly urging his flock to get their recommended shots.

That left his daughter doing some nifty theological footwork in last week’s sermon as she struggled to explain how believers should trust their health to both God and medical professionals.

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  1. Nice story, but a little old. Check the date ;)

Empire of Drugs: Vintage ads for when cocaine and heroin were legal

Posted on February 8th, 2015 at 11:42 by John Sinteur in category: News


Pope Leo XIII’s longevity as Pontiff of the Catholic Church (the third longest in church history) may have been down to his favourite tipple Vin Mariani. Pope Leo was so enamoured by this French tonic wine it is claimed he kept a hip flask hidden under his cassock, so he could enjoy the occasional snifter to perk up his spirits—which it undoubtedly did, as Vin Mariani was a heady mix of Bordeaux wine and coca leaves. The original drink had 6mg of cocaine per fluid ounce, which went up to 7.2mg per fluid ounce for the export market—mainly to compete with similar coke-filled tonics—such as Coca-Cola—sold in the USA.

It was claimed that Mariani wine could quickly restore “health, strength, energy and vitality,” and hastened convalescence (“especially after influenza”). In one of their ads, His Holiness the Spokesmodel decreed:

…that he has fully appreciated the benefit of this Tonic Wine, and has forwarded to Mr. Mariani as a token of his gratitude a gold medal bearing his august effigy.

Talk about a celebrity endorsement, eh? If God’s representative on Earth approved of the coca-infused tipple, that would have been quite a boon in marketing terms.


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‘Jesus Take the Wheel Act’ passes House

Posted on February 8th, 2015 at 0:28 by John Sinteur in category: batshitinsane, Pastafarian News


House members on Thursday passed a bill exempting mid-sized church buses from the state’s commercial driver’s license requirements, prompting one lawmaker to call it the “Jesus Take the Wheel Act.”

The bill, HB 132, would help congregations lacking a CDL-certified driver transport up to 30 passengers in a church-owned vehicle. Although applying equally to all churches, it’s primarily aimed at smaller congregations with fewer members and financial resources.

It now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“This just allows small churches, some don’t have people with commercial licenses at all, and they can pick a person to drive the bus,” said state Rep. Robert Johnson III, D-Natchez, who chairs the Transportation Committee which had passed the bill earlier in the session.

Current law requires CDL-certified drivers for any vehicle transporting more than 16 passengers, including the driver. The bill would amend that law to exempt church buses designed to carry 30 passengers or less.

As an ordained minister in the Church of the FSM, how do I go about applying for this exemption so I can drive a schoolbus full of my drunk congregation around town from “sacred nectar dispensary” to the next “sacred nectar dispensary”?

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  1. Oh, c’mon. Be sporting and let the Devil drive!

Penn Jillette Debunks Psychic Cold Reading

Posted on February 7th, 2015 at 18:41 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Innocent frequent flier detained after run-in with TSA

Posted on February 7th, 2015 at 16:36 by John Sinteur in category: Do you feel safer yet?


Apparently, working as a supervisor for the Transportation Security Administration at Philadelphia International Airport comes with a perk: You get to throw people in jail for no good reason and still keep your job.

If that’s not the case, why is Charles Kieser still employed by the TSA?

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Posted on February 7th, 2015 at 13:28 by John Sinteur in category: News


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The US Surgeon General Admits Science Is Real, Says Weed Has Medical Benefits

Posted on February 7th, 2015 at 9:43 by John Sinteur in category: No shit, sherlock


It’s a sad commentary on the federal government’s antiquated stance on drugs that even the most tepid administration statements in support of medical marijuana are hailed as bold new thinking. US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy elicited such a response when he said on national television this week that—brace yourself—there is “some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms that marijuana can be helpful.”

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Pope Francis: parents can smack their children for bad behaviour

Posted on February 6th, 2015 at 21:09 by John Sinteur in category: batshitinsane


Pope Francis believes it is fine for parents to smack their children as punishment for bad behaviour.

He made the remarks, which were condemned by campaigners for child protection, in front of thousands of people at his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square during a homily about the responsibilities of fatherhood.

As if it wasn’t already clear that the Catholic Church may not be the best source for advice on how to treat little kids.

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Confessions of a congressman

Posted on February 6th, 2015 at 10:09 by John Sinteur in category: News


You’re paying us to do a job, and we’re spending that time you’re paying us asking rich people and corporations to give us money so we can run ads convincing you to keep paying us to do this job.

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  1. The objective of the 1% is to gridlock Congress. It isn’t going to change in our lifetimes. There, is that cynical enough for you?

  2. “America is at that awkward age. It’s to late to change things but it’s to soon to shoot the bastards”

  3. Sorry Karl, there is no Plan B.

Impostors bilk Omaha’s Scoular Co. out of $17.2 million

Posted on February 6th, 2015 at 9:27 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Scoular Co., an employee-owned commodities trader founded 120 years ago, has been taken for $17.2 million in an international email swindle, according to federal court documents.

An executive with the 800-employee company wired the money in installments last summer to a bank in China after receiving emails ordering him to do so, says an FBI statement filed last month in U.S. District Court in Omaha.

The orders turned out to be a fraud.

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John Oliver talks net neutrality, salmon cannons, and the future of Last Week Tonight

Posted on February 5th, 2015 at 19:21 by John Sinteur in category: News


“We can’t take credit for the genesis. The genesis is just one Seattle area man’s dream. We saw that and thought “that is an absolutely magnificent piece of equipment.” And then I think someone had the idea — because this was months out — we could just do our own version and fire salmon into people’s face. And so then we started putting out the feelers of, ‘would you like to have a salmon hit you in the face?’ It was just an amazing amount of yeses. It doesn’t seem like a good offer.

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King Of Jordan To Bomb ISIS In Syria… Personally

Posted on February 5th, 2015 at 13:13 by John Sinteur in category: News


Jordan confirmed on Wednesday that “The Jordanian King Abdullah II will participate personally on Thursday in conducting air strikes against the shelters of the terrorist ISIL organization to revenge the execution of the Jordanian pilot Maath al-Kassasba by the ISIL.”

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Moussaoui Calls Saudi Princes Patrons of Al Qaeda

Posted on February 4th, 2015 at 20:26 by John Sinteur in category: News


The French-born Mr. Moussaoui was detained weeks before Sept. 11 on immigration charges in Minnesota, so he was incarcerated at the time of the attacks. Earlier in 2001, he had taken flying lessons and was wired $14,000 by a Qaeda cell in Germany, evidence that he might have been preparing to become one of the hijackers.

He said in the prison deposition that he was directed in 1998 or 1999 by Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan to create a digital database of donors to the group. Among those he said he recalled listing in the database were Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the Saudi intelligence chief; Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States; Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a prominent billionaire investor; and many of the country’s leading clerics.

“Sheikh Osama wanted to keep a record who give money,” he said in imperfect English – “who is to be listened to or who contributed to the jihad.”

Mr. Moussaoui said he acted as a courier for Bin Laden, carrying personal messages to prominent Saudi princes and clerics.

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  1. So…Michael Moore was correct then? Who knew?

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