Posted in Miscellaneous, Terrorism

Guns and Knives -Are these the arms we need to bear?

“a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The above is the actual text of the much talked about and heavily polarizing second amendment. Everyone knows why this passage is so controversial because the passage is not only obscure, but in my opinion completely unintelligible. The vague text of the second amendment has been left to multiple interpretations at so many levels.

Unfortunately, one of the challenges with America is its obsession with its constitution. A vivid democracy is one that evolves with times. A vivid democracy is one that adapts with the changes around. A vivid democracy is one that doesn’t look past the context of the original text and instead reinterprets the text based on the current context. A vivid democracy is one where its citizens are able to embrace the nuances of the metamorphosis of the country’s character in relation to the rest of the countries’ characters. In my 18 years in America, one thing I have learnt is that America is nowhere being that vivid democracy. As a proud American, how I wish it is!

The intent of this blog post is not to get back to harping at those second amendment huggers for their obsession with guns. But instead I want to offer a completely different interpretation and may be, just may be, this could evoke a conversation that in the next 20 years or so may bring in a true “amendment”. (After all, these are amendments, duh, which many fail to understand to begin with).

Today’s attacks on the North American internet services were triggered mainly by a program called Mirai (It is actually an IoT Botnet). What should be scary is the fact that Mirai could be used to get on a host to initiate DDoS attacks on several services very rapidly and very easily. I am not much familiar with how these work exactly, but I am knowledgeable enough to know that this is dangerous stuff. Really dangerous stuff. DDoS is Distributed DoS. What happened today (I am glad that Dyn has been able to mitigate the risk after 11 hours of battle) is just the tip of the iceberg. With our future seemingly floating towards IoT in every aspect of our lives, it is hard to ignore what happened today and move on. If an easy to use program like Mirai could be used to make every single home appliance as a host in an IoT future, imagine the extent of the paralysis that these attacks will eventually cause on our lives. It is just a matter of time before dozens or even hundreds of Mirai clones swarm the dark spaces of the web. These will be easily available for the cyber terrorists who derive pleasure from attacking other computers.

iot

Now, imagine an organized group launching such attacks.
Taking it one step further, imagine a foreign government that puts together a “cyber military” to launch such attacks on the US, unannounced.
Even more dire would be to imagine a scenario when multiple governments come together to attack us and they are not just DDoS attacks but more penetrative hacks, syphoning private financial details and even pumping actual money out of our financial systems.
How threatened are you by this possibility?

In my opinion, this is real terrorism of our future. And this is exactly what we should really be prepared to defend ourselves for. In this context, let us revisit the second amendment. Shall we?

What are ‘arms’ in this newly interpreted context? You think a gun will help you overcome a cyber threat? How archaic is that thought? How so 17th century is that idea? An armed militia that needs to fight a dictatorial government in future (or a foreign enemy) should have arms that make sense for such a fight. Cyber Warfare is the last place where a gun would come handy in case you want to be a soldier.

Arms in a cyber warfare are not guns and knives, but they are knowledge and brain power needed to develop the required cyber skills to counterattack and mitigate the incoming attacks.

Let me say this again. The future attack that you and I should be worried about is the one when a tyrannical government (local or foreign) engages in a cyber warfare with you and me. And what we need to do to fight back is to be able to have an armed militia that knows how to take on these cyber attackers through their/our knowledge and skills.

So the meaning of “arms” changes completely in this context and hence what we all should be fighting to protect is an individual’s right to bear these “arms” (knowledge).

Posted in Terrorism

The day after..

It is hard to cope up with what just happened and what is still happening in Mumbai.
Sympathy, Anger, Restlessness, Willingness to help, etc. – all confound the holiday shrouded mind.

I am using this post as an incoherent blurt…I am not an expert in International affairs. But as a responsible citizen of India and of a peace loving world, I have the right to ask these questions.

* How about the Indian government acting right now? While the rescue and recovery operations are underway, let us use our International goodwill and apply as much pressure we can on ISI and ask them to better point us in the direction of these hideouts in Pakistan? I am pretty positive if ISI works with us (of course they won’t), we can probably uncover 75% of potential future threats to India..

* How about a crackdown on all Indian mosques beginning today? No excuses. I respect my Muslim friends’ right to worship – But these are not normal times..So if you are a moderate muslim, thank you for being so – but it is not enough that you condemn these cowardly acts – you have to work with the government…Right now. Yes. Right now.
You can still go to mosques. But you will have military presence..Sorry – that’s the only way the Indian government can snub Madarasas.

* How about getting rid of the myth that India is a secular country and all political parties will have to do whatever appeasement work they have to do to get their vote banks? Do what is right for India.

36 hours. Nariman House is still under siege. Taj and Oberoi – Conditions still unclear.

Posted in Terrorism

Ivory and Rahul Raj

News:

The first officially sanctioned sale of ivory in southern Africa for almost a decade opened on Tuesday.
Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe will auction more than 100 tonnes of ivory from stockpiles to buyers from China and Japan.
The money raised will go into elephant conservation projects.

Reaction:

I am totally against it even if statistics showed that after the last 1999 legal sale of ivory, illegal poaching came down..Yes. I am an environmentalist and I believe in stricter sanctions to be imposed on countries like China to have better controls.

News:

Mumbai Police on Monday shot down a gun-toting youth from Bihar in a city bus after he fired indiscriminately and threatened to kill MNS chief Raj Thackeray, adding a new dimension to the violent campaign against migrant workers in Maharashtra. Additional Police Commissioner Sadanand Date said the youth was carrying an illegal weapon and had opened indiscriminate firing in a public place, and that he was killed in a police operation.

Reaction:

More follow up on this incident tells me that Raj Thackeray and his fanatical mob have created so much panic in the Maharashtrian minds that the Police would have killed Rahu Raj even if he had carried a Diwali dummy pistol with him. And this in a city, which will let real terrorists bomb their way to glory killing innocent citizens!
And I go back to my earlier outburst – This needs to be stopped right now – else the state of Maharashtra will become isolated..and terrorized..

Posted in Terrorism

7 Years

Seven years ago…
A few minutes from now…I would learn about the moment that would change the general outlook of every single citizen of this world, on the times we are living in. In my lifetime this far, it was the single most devastating event that shook off the world and made a lot of us – moderates and extremists alike, think “why..and why”!

At that moment though, seven years ago when I learned about a Plane hitting WTC, like many of us, I had no idea about the far reaching impact of that cowardly act. It was pandemonium at my work place that chilly September morning and everyone was trying to get hold of their sources to get more information. The entire morning was sombre, needless to say. The rest of the week at work was even more confusing for all of us who were from out of town and had to find ways to get home..But we knew that confusion and the pain of not getting home on time was nothing in comparison to the pain that was inflicted on those family members, of those who just wouldn’t get home for ever.

Today is a chilling reminder of that day and the cloud that cowardly act has covered us with. The memorial services are just the bare minimum human gestures that we can offer. But does it mean anything to the victims’ families? And to think, that someone out there could try to get some political wind out of it, is repugnant.

For now though, my heart goes out to those who never would make it home and their families!

Posted in Miscellaneous, Terrorism

Pak tragedy…

I was as shocked today, as I was when I heard about Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination about 16 years ago. The similarities are plenty.
Indira Gandhi was assassinated and then it was Rajiv Gandhi..
Zulfiquar Bhutto was hung to death and then it was Benazir Bhutto today..
Both Rajiv and Benazir were campaigning for elections incidentally. Trying to get back to power..
And incidentally, in both cases, I was told about the tragedy (as opposed to me catching it on TV or newspaper myself) — it was my cousin who woke me up on May 21, 1991 to let me know and today, it was my wife who called me and let me know.

So are the fundamentalists gradually taking over democracy? Well even though the merits and demerits of Mushariff’s reign can be debated for days, he stepping out of his military uniform proved that it is going to be an arduous and a long path for Pakistan to get anywhere close to what we refer to democracy.

I am just worried about the bloody repercussions that this killing may bring to the region.

My heart goes out to the moderate Pakistanis who were and hopefully will continue to pin their hopes on a more moderate future for Pakistan.

Posted in Terrorism

Shameful shooting

There probably is no safe place – If a small university town, away from all the real-world craziness & devoid of urbane pollution, cannot guarantee a psychotic killer with free access to guns in a country that prides on its free-gun-values, from going on a shooting rampage right in the middle of a class room, where professors and students die – all alike, dropping their heavy, lifeless bodies, with no time to think about families & loved ones before dying, then there really is none — no safe place, for ordinary people who want to live.

Time for a reality check (again) on the gun-control issue perhaps? Well..I am sure the Charlton Heston likes will be the first ones to jump on top of times like these to build a self-defending wall around their industry. And their powerful lobbying will continue to pound the Washington interests and before you & I can blink, the issue will get another twist and soon, it will be yet another forgotten tragedy like Columbine.

The same mentally deranged Asian male could have gone berserk on the same day for the same reason — no gun control could have prevented that — but..but..but…if buying a 9mm pistol was not as easy as buying a pack of gum for this student, then….in my simple mind, 32 more learned men could still be walking tall in the Blacksburg campus and their families could still be getting ready for their Summer breaks .

Shame on us. Shame on us for letting these familes suffer.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Terrorism

Train to Madness

There is a method to all madness. And even though the method is unknown yet, the Samjhauta express tragedy is not an exception. I was reading Dilip D’Souza’s very touching narration of a Marine getting killed in Iraq – how a complete lifeless stranger reached out to him as he drove through a small village, there was a cloud of sorrow that filled my heart. Guess, I give away to such humane feelings more often than I think. But the fact is losses do affect me and it does not matter if it was an unknown US marine falling dead as his chopper went down, leaving his single widowed mom childless or if it is a Pakistani father Shaukat Ali who lost 5 children in Samjhauta express, I can only see them as what they are to their loved ones – not as props in an orchestrated mission driven by religious fanaticism funded by political motivations. I see them as fathers, sons, daughters, mothers and sisters of families who have lost them. I see them through their own eyes and I see them through their beloved ones’ eyes. And I just cannot understand how else you can see them.