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Prof. Wetzel moderates wireless security panel
Posted: 2005-02-25 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

Wireless networks may be the way of the future, but their security is no sure thing. This was the message conveyed by participants of the "Attacks on and Security Measures for Ad Hoc Wireless Networks" panel, on Saturday, February 19.

The panel, part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was moderated by Stevens computer science professor Susanne Wetzel and dealt with the security of ad hoc wireless networks.

An ad hoc network is one where every device forwards traffic for every other; unlike traditional networks, ad hoc networks become more efficient as more nodes are added. This type of network is most common with small mobile devices.

In addition to Professor Wetzel, there were four other members on the panel: Markus Jakobsson and XiaoFeng Wang, both from Indiana University, Panos Papadimitratos from Virginia Tech, and Adrian Perrig from Carnegie Mellon University.

Professor Wetzel started things off, explaining the basics of ad hoc networks, as well as their advantages and disadvantages compared to traditional client/server networks. She described ad hoc networks as a "double-edged sword," due to the new opportunities and new challenges these networks bring.

From there, the topics centered mostly on the various types of attacks that could be made on these networks as well as steps that could be taken to prevent them. Jakobsson focused mostly on stealth attacks, where a malicious node interferes with or intercepts network traffic without exposing itself. He noted the use of cryptography as a potential problem for ad hoc networks, as the processing power required for cryptographic operations can help in denial of service attacks against mobile devices.

The most dangerous stealth attack is a "man in the middle" attack, where a malicious node listens to and potentially changes messages that pass through it. A node operating in this manner can gain access to sensitive information being transmitted across the network, and is similar to a "phishing" attack.

Wang focused on using game theory to improve cooperation between nodes on and security of ad hoc networks. The idea is that by "rewarding" nodes that follow the rules, and establishing a reputation system for devices, malicious nodes will be gradually edged out of the network.

Papadimitratos noted that attacker nodes will seek to "hit when it hurts," by establishing themselves as reliable nodes and then dropping or intercepting potentially sensitive network traffic. He proposed a system, which breaks messages into redundant parts and sending them through different routes.

He noted that if 50 percent of a network consisted of attacker nodes, and no system of redundancy were in place, only 35 percent of traffic would reach its intended destination without resending. With his system, however, this number increases to 93 percent. This has the disadvantage of requiring more transmissions, but "bandwidth is the price we need to pay for security," commented Papadimitratos.

Perrig sought to secure the routing protocols of a network, preventing an attacker node from halting a network by attracting all the traffic. He broke down attacks into two classes, those by external attackers, who do not have access to any of the network's encryption keys, and internal attackers, who do. Stopping external attackers is a simple matter of authenticating it to the network; this would not work for an internal attacker. An internal attacker could bring down a network by claiming to be the quickest route to all other nodes; this would cause nearly all traffic to be sent to that node, which would not forward it. Perrig's solution would make it impossible for a node to hide its true distance from other nodes.

The talks were followed by a question and answer session, where Perrig explained that much of the focus has been on securing routing and messages, and not on the physical security of the network. This is because the frequencies can be jammed, and no security solution is going to be able to overcome that.

Jakobsson noted that the other attacks, particularly "man in the middle" attacks, pose a greater risk than jamming. Since jamming is an obvious attack, it can be easily observed, as opposed to the silent interception or alteration of traffic, which is stealthier and can also result in information being compromised.

Securing ad hoc wireless networks is one of the research areas for WiNSeC, the Wireless Network Security Center, in the Lieb building here at Stevens. It is also one of Professor Wetzel's research aims.


Your Liberty: Think of the children's privacy
Posted: 2005-02-25 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

How would you like it if you were tracked everywhere you went at Stevens? For students in the Brittan school district in California, this was a reality. Each student was required to carry a radio frequency identification (RFID) badge that could be used to track his or her movements.

The program was designed to ensure that all students were accounted for by providing school officials with an easy way to tell if a student was missing. It would then be easier to tell which students were cutting class, or perhaps even tell if a student had been kidnapped.

The program generated an intense backlash from parents, who felt that the tracking represented an unwarranted intrusion into the civil liberties of the children. It also prompted action from the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

The protests resulted in the school district disabling readers in the school's bathrooms; a measure the district must have felt was a compromise.

The program ended when InCom, the company providing the RFID tags and readers, abruptly ended its participation. InCom was actually paying the school for its participation, in the hopes that the company could sell the technology to other schools.

This casts doubt on the true intentions of those behind the program, such as principal Earnie Graham. Rather than acknowledge that students might actually be concerned about their privacy, he said, "I believe junior high students want to be stylish. This is not stylish." What about all the parents who were upset? Are they only concerned that their children do not look "stylish" anymore, Mr. Graham?

Assaults on our civil liberties do not only come from the federal government; state and local governments are perfectly capable of them as well, which I think this case shows. This was a blatant attempt to increase government surveillance of its citizens.

The fact that this was done 'in the name of the children' is disgusting. By requiring attendance at schools, and then requiring students to submit to being tracked, the government is, intentionally or not, making an impression on the children's minds.

It may not be the goal of the Brittan school district to raise a generation of children less adverse to being tracked, but that is the effect of policies such as this. It is a step closer to a totalitarian state, where the government knows everything about everyone, including where they are at any time. This is downright un-American, and we must not let it happen.


Babbio Center on track for fall opening
Posted: 2005-02-25 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

Nearly four years after ground was broken, the Babbio Center is expected to be open for the upcoming fall semester.

Originally expected to open last fall, construction was delayed in its early stages over concerns about the blasting being done to clear the site. This resulted in lawsuits between being waged between Stevens and advocacy group Fund for a Better Waterfront, which were only recently resolved.

Even once it opens, however, the center will not be "complete." The top two floors will not be completely furnished; only the necessary fire and safety items, "whatever we need to get a Certificate of Occupancy," will be installed, according to Hank Dobbelaar, Vice President for Facilities/Support Services.

The Lawrence T. Babbio, Jr. Center for Technology Management will be the new home for the Howe School of Technology Management. The Howe school currently has its offices and classrooms on the third floor of the Morton-Peirce-Kidde complex.

The opening of parking garage attached to the Babbio Center is another matter. Work on the garage is on hold pending more funding, with no definite timeline for its completion.

Funding is the main obstacle facing the garage, since Stevens received the necessary variances needed to complete construction from the Hoboken Planning Board last year. Once funding is obtained, Dobbelaar said, all that remains is the completion of a final plan, "which should take about a month," as well as getting the necessary construction permits from Hoboken.

Ground was broken on the Babbio site in October 2001, making it almost four years to the day between the groundbreaking and its formal opening.


Tech Hall no more
Posted: 2005-02-25 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

Residents of Tech Hall were surprised to find out last Friday that they were now living in Jonas Hall. Ryan Bender '05 remarked, "I took a nap on Friday, and when I woke up, I saw I was living in Jonas Hall!"

Tech Hall has been renamed in honor of Frank Jonas, an alumnus from the class of 1923. Jonas' family recently made a large donation to Stevens, and the decision was made to rename the dorm in his honor.

New signage was placed on the outside of the dorm, providing some students with their first and only notice that the hall had been renamed.

Jonas, a Long Island resident, was the inventor of the Pendaflex folder, a common type of hanging file folder.

A formal rededication ceremony is planned for later this year.


Your Liberty: Patriot Act should be history, not the future
Posted: 2005-02-18 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

The American government is at war, and this conflict is not being waged in Afghanistan or Iraq. This war is being fought right here on American soil, and it is being fought against American citizens. It is the war between the government and Americans' civil liberties.

Unquestionably, the USA PATRIOT Act expanded the powers of the federal government, and of law enforcement agencies, to effectively spy on citizens. With this power, one would expect to find some sort of check or balance; there is none.

The Act allows the government or law enforcement agencies to compel businesses to turn over any information it is asked for; it also makes it illegal for that business to notify the affected persons of that fact.

This Act has been the basis for other power grabs at the expense of our civil liberties. Had Congress voted down the Act, it would have sent a clear signal that security needs to be balanced with the very liberty it is to secure. Instead, its passage has opened the door for more and more legislation that erodes our liberty under the false pretense of securing America.

In his opposition to the Act, Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) said to the Senate, "There is no doubt, that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country where the police were allowed to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country where the government was entitled to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your e-mail communications ... the government would probably discover and arrest more terrorists, or would-be terrorists ... But that would not be a country in which we would want to live."

This year, several sections of the Act are due to "sunset," or expire. The Bush administration is pushing Congress to make these sections a permanent part of the law.

The USA PATRIOT Act was rushed through Congress so the government would not appear to be standing still; now we have had three years to consider it. We must not let the government make the same mistake again, this time without an expiration date. Let Congress know that the America we want to live in is an America where our basic liberties are protected.


World News
Posted: 2005-02-18 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

Lebanese ex-prime minister assassinated

Rafik Hariri, Lebanon's former prime minister, was assassinated on Monday, prompting accusations that Syria was involved. Hariri was planning to return to politics as the head of the opposition party to Syrian-supported president Emile Lahoud.

The assassination has spurred many anti-Syrian protests throughout Lebanon and led the U.S. to call for the withdrawal of more than 14,000 Syrian troops in Lebanon. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said be believed Hizbollah, a Syrian-backed militant group, was behind the attack. Imad Moustapha, Syria's ambassador to the U.S., denied any Syrian involvement in the attack, claiming that one of its goals may have been to damage Syria.

Togo military agrees to return "constitutional order"

Following the protests from the army-back installation of Faure Gnassingbe as Togo's president, the military has agreed to back down and restore "constitutional order." After the sudden death of Faure's father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, the country's constitution was changed to give Faure power through 2008. The move prompted worldwide warnings and numerous local protests, which left four people dead. Some sources indicate that elections may be held in as little as 60 days.

Kyoto Protocol comes into effect

Seven years after it was signed, the Kyoto accord came into force on Wednesday, even without the backing of the United States. The agreement is designed to cut down on the emission of greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide, in an attempt to slow and possibly reverse global warming. The U.S., the world's top polluter, has refused to sign the agreement, saying it would cost too much to implement the required changes.

While hailed as a great step forward in the fight to end global warming, the agreement may not be as useful as some hope; several nations, including Canada and Japan, do not plan to meet their emissions targets.

Shiite alliance wins plurality in Iraq elections

In results announced on Sunday, Shiite-backed United Iraqi Alliance won a plurality of Iraq's vote, but did not obtain an outright majority, receiving 48% of the vote. The Kurdish Alliance finished second in the election, winning 26% of the vote. Some Kurdish groups have said they want Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, to be Iraq's president. With 58% voter turnout and no major problems, Iraq's new National Assembly is generally regarded as legitimate. Some Sunni groups, however, may not accept this, given their low turnout in the election.


Your Liberty: Terrorism has destroyed states' rights
Posted: 2005-02-11 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

America may be moving closer to a national ID card as Congress votes on the "Real ID Act." The act would require states to make their driver's licenses conform to the federal standards laid out in the bill. This will be accomplished by barring federal agencies from accepting non-conforming state-issued identification.

This is a gross violation of a state's rights. Nowhere does the Constitution give the federal government the power to set standards for identification, and by the 10th Amendment, the states retain that right.

The "Real ID Act" is a blatant attempt to further erode the rights of states, by using indirect pressure. In this case, the government is not requiring states to conform to these standards, but will only allow citizens of states that do to interact with the federal government.

The bill also takes one direct swipe at states' rights. If a state refuses to comply with the federal standards, it is required to indicate that its identification cards "may not be accepted by any Federal agency for any official purpose" and must be visually different from a 'federally legal' identification card.

This is similar to the situation with the drinking age; Congress cannot legally set a national drinking age, but by threatening to withhold highway funding from states that do not set it at 21, they are able to force state policy.

Our nation was founded on the idea that the federal government did not have all the power. In fact, the 10th Amendment limited that power, "reserv[ing] to the states" "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution."

The argument being made for this egregious breach of the Constitution is that it is a national security issue, since a national ID card will help prevent future terrorist acts. This is simply not true, and is being used to attract support for the bill.

Establishing a national identification standard will not make this country safer, and it will only serve to further erode the privacy rights of citizens. One aspect of the "Real ID Act" requires all states to combine their motor vehicle databases. The act sets a minimum for what data must be included, but does not limit it.

It is entirely possible, therefore, that all of a person's information, which may be linked to their motor vehicle information, would be available as part of a nationally-available database. No recourse is given for citizens whose information is incorrect; if one state accidentally indicates that you are a felon, for example, any other state that checks the database—for any reason, not necessarily a motor vehicles one—they will see this false information.

A national identification card may make it more difficult for an underage citizen to buy alcohol, but this is not a national security issue. What this act will not do is make America any safer; it will only serve to increase the power of the already-large federal government and to erode the freedom and liberty of us, its citizens.


World News
Posted: 2005-02-11 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

Separatist attack rocks Madrid

A group of Basque separatists detonated a car bomb outside of a Madrid convention center on Wednesday, injuring 42 people. The attack came just hours before the king and queen of Spain, along with Mexican president Vincente Fox, were to attend an art fair at the convention center. A warning call was phoned in to a local newspaper shortly before the attack, and police were evacuating the area when the bomb went off. The attack is believed to be the work of ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna), a designated terrorist group fighting for an independent Basque state.

Phillipine clashes leave 60 dead

Three days of fighting between the Philippine army and two rebel groups on the island of Jolo have left nearly 60 people dead. Violence broke out on Monday, when hundreds of rebels launched an ambush against army soldiers, as well as three other attacks across the island. The ambush ended a nearly nine-year-old peace agreement between the government and one of the rebel groups. The government of the Philippines has moved more military equipment to the island to help put an end to the fighting.

Troops authorized to aid Somalia

The African Union has authorized the deployment of troops to help the government of Somalia return in safety. Somalia's government was formed last year at a conference in Kenya, with the aim of ending the lawlessness in the country. Somalia has been under the rule of local militias which overthrew the nation's military dictator in 1991. The exact number of troops that will be deployed was not mentioned; however, Uganda has already pledged to send 2,000 troops.

Palestinian groups say cease-fire 'not binding'

Two Palestinian militant groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have declared that the cease-fire agreement signed between Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Tuesday is "not binding" on members of their groups. The agreement, designed to end four years of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, is seen as important step on the "roadmap for peace." Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been observing an unofficial truce since Mahmoud Abbas came to power.

Togo president ascends to power

Following a rushed amendment to allow him to take power until 2008, Faure Gnassingbe took over leadership of the African nation of Togo. This comes after the sudden death of Gnassingbe's father, the previous president, on Sunday. The move has drawn criticism from many groups, with the African Union discussing the possibility of sanctions until the nation restores "constitutional legitimacy." Gnassingbe has promised to hold elections "as soon as possible."


Is there any honor left at Stevens?
Posted: 2005-02-11 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

One of the selling points of Stevens is its honor code. The idea is that the faculty and administration trust students not to cheat or break the rules. Naturally, this can only work when the students do not abuse that trust.

Quoted in an article last week, David Sheridan, Assistant Vice President for Student Services, commented that he was "troubled" that students here, under the Stevens honor code, would knowingly and willingly distribute sensitive information about other students. We should all take a long, hard look and ask ourselves, is the honor system dead?

I commented on this issue last semester, when I said that "What this all boils down to is that Stevens does not trust its students. The honor system, despite the apparent trust it puts in students, in reality has quite the opposite effect."

What we are seeing more and more is that perhaps Stevens students do not deserve the trust that is put in us. I am sure that at one time or another, every one of us has seen (or has been) someone cheating on a homework assignment, whether it is by working on it with someone else, or looking for a solution to the same problem online.

There a myriad of ways a student can cheat; in most cases, they get away with it, either because the grader does not notice, or does not care. This emboldens students to continue doing that, and they will likely continue to get away with it.

Of course, the easiest response to the problem is to say that students who cheat are "only hurting themselves." This is true, to some extent; yes, cheating students are not really learning the material, and so they hurt themselves for that particular course, but what about in the "real world?"

There are many stories about how things are cutthroat in some jobs. In order to advance, employees are practically required to cheat or steal, often at the expense of others. Employees with "too much" honor end up being the ones left behind.

This is certainly not representative of all jobs. There are probably many jobs where honesty is rewarded and cheating punished, depending on the industry.

Once again, I issue a challenge, this time to students; live up to the trust that has been placed in us. If we cannot do this, then we have no business working under an honor code that is flouted at every turn.


January 2005 graduates have SSNs leaked
Posted: 2005-02-04 00:00
1 comment(s)
Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

The security of Stevens' policy of using social security numbers has been compromised with the release of names and social security numbers of recent graduates.

A report, titled "The Report from the Office of the Registrar to the Faculty and the Board of Trustees Concerning the Members of the Class of January 2005," was apparently left in Burchard 118 after a January 26 faculty meeting.

The report contains the names, social security numbers, GPAs, and class ranks of the 31 students who graduated last month. It went largely unnoticed in a back corner of the classroom until Monday. Students with classes in that room were seen flipping through copies of the report, which remained available through that evening.

Some students began to distribute copies of the report to other students. One such student, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted to handing copies to anyone they encountered. This student said that Stevens students needed a "wake up call" about the use of social security numbers as student identifiers.

"It's messed up, but it doesn't surprise me," said Michael Krupnick '05, whose information is listed in the report. Krupnick added, "I never really thought the school cared about my security anyway."

David Sheridan, the Assistant Vice President for Student Services, remarked, "I'm troubled by why students at a school with an honor code would see information about fellow students ... and take it and pass it around."

Sheridan felt that the situation should have been brought to the attention of the administration or faculty so that the copies of the report could have either been destroyed or put in a safe place. He likened it to finding someone's wallet: "You don't keep it, you turn it in," said Sheridan.

Regarding the reason the reports were left behind, Sheridan commented, "all any of us can do is speculate."

A possible explanation is that the copies were inadvertently forgotten at the end of the meeting. Since other reports were distributed at that meeting, but none of those were left behind, this appears to be the most likely explanation.

The release of this information to the public, while likely unintentional, is nonetheless a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) since it includes GPAs and social security numbers. The act allows schools to release names, addresses, majors, and degrees without the consent of the student, but prevents the release of grades and social security numbers.


Your Liberty
Posted: 2005-02-04 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

A free press is one of the important aspects of a free society. When a citizen can expect that newspapers and other media sources will criticize the actions of the government when they need to be criticized, the press is doing its job.

Lately, however, this has been lacking in our press. There have been allegations that the White House Press Corps is too easy on the president; this argument notwithstanding, there are several real examples that call the objectivity of the press into question.

In the last two weeks, there have been three confirmed cases where reporters received some payment from a government agency, and then went on to write a favorable article regarding that agency.

Armstrong Williams, a talk-show host and syndicated columnist, received $240,000 from the Department of Education. Williams went on to promote the No Child Left Behind Act on his show, and encouraged other journalists to do the same.

It was also recently revealed that Universal Press Syndicate columnist Maggie Gallagher had a $21,000 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to promote President Bush's 2002 marriage initiative. Michael McManus, author of the syndicated column, "Ethics & Religion," was hired as an HHS subcontractor, which he failed to disclose while promoting the initiative.

In response to the news of these apparent payoffs, President Bush said in a press conference, "[t]here needs to be independence" of the press. This is somewhat hard to swallow, especially since Weekly Standard editor William Kristol and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer helped Bush draft his inauguration address, and then praised it without disclosing their role in it.

It is also worth pointing out the White House's television ads used to garner support for their Medicare reform bill. One such ad, which appeared to be a news segment, was frequently aired during regular news programming and without any indication it was a commercial.

While an unbiased press is of critical importance to a free society, the very freedom of that press needs to be emphasized and preserved. A recent survey of high school students conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut found that a startling number of students oppose freedom of the press. Of those surveyed, 36% of students felt that the press should be required to obtain the approval of the government before running a story.

Other questions also received disappointing results: 32% of the students felt that the press has too much freedom, and 35% felt the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it protects. It is also worth mentioning that 42% of respondents indicated they never had any sort of education about the First Amendment, so these responses may be attributable to ignorance and misconception, and not well-formed opinions.

Thomas Jefferson put it best when he said, "Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press." These words could not be more true, especially in today's climate, where members of the press are often afraid to criticize the government for fear of being labeled a supporter of terrorism. We should demand that our government stop buying media figures, and we should demand that members of the press have the integrity to report the real news.


World News
Posted: 2005-02-04 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

Iraqi elections called "a resounding success"

President Bush called the elections in Iraq "a resounding success" due to higher-than-expected voter turnout throughout the country. Millions of Iraqis took to the polls despite several attacks and the threat of more. The day was not entirely peaceful, and 44 Iraqis were killed in several attacks on polling places. Counting of the ballots is expected to last into next week, with certification of the results happening on February 20. Following the elections, interim Iraqi president Ghazi Yawer said that it would be "complete nonsense" for Iraq to call for a troop pullout given the country's situation.

Nepal's king shakes up government

A day after firing the country's prime minister and putting many political officials under house arrest, Nepalese king Gyanendra announced the formation of a new cabinet. Gyanendra fired the prime minster for failing to hold elections or to end the civil war which is ravaging the country. As part of his consolidation of power, Gyanendra cut all phone and Internet access to the country. Gyanendra's takeover of power has drawn criticism from the United States and neighboring India.

Pope hospitalized for breathing problems

Pope John Paul II was hospitalized Tuesday due to a worsening flu and breathing problems. Vatican officials say that the hospitalization is "just a precaution" and that he is not in intensive care. Three days before being admitted to the hospital, the Pope canceled all of his appointments due to the flu. The Pope has been in poor health lately, but has insisted on performing as many of his duties as possible.

Sudan crisis not genocide, says UN report

In a 244-page report, the United Nations has declared that the actions in the Darfur region of Sudan are "crimes against humanity," but stopped short of classifying them as genocide. The British and French governments are pushing for trials in the International Criminal Court, while the United States, which refused to sign onto the court, feels that an ad hoc tribunal would be more appropriate. The report indicates that the actions in Darfur do not technically fit the legal definition of genocide, but that it is a largely academic distinction.

Spain rejects Basque independence plan

The Spanish government has rejected a proposal from the Basque regional government that would have given the Basques greater autonomy. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero accused the Basque leader, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, of promoting the idea of a Basque country which does not exist. The Basques have been at odds with the Spanish for years over their autonomy, with some armed militant groups launching attacks against Spain.


Mysterious noise affects Davis and Hayden residents
Posted: 2005-01-28 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

Since the end last semester, some residents of Davis and Hayden halls have been complaining about a mysterious noise coming from the Hudson River.

This noise comes from a SODAR (Sonar Detection and Ranging) instrument being used to measure wind speeds. The instrument emits a sound pulse in several directions, which has its speed changed by particles in the air. By measuring the phase shift in the sound, both the direction and speed of the wind can be measured.

The purpose of the project is to study wind shear in urban environments, which can be used to help predict urban dispersion. The research has domestic security applications, particularly in predicting the dispersion of an airborne bio-weapon or fallout from a dirty bomb.

The project would likely have gone unnoticed by most Stevens students, except for a periodic noise it emitted, which could be heard in rooms in both Davis and Hayden halls. "It's really annoying," said Katie Hibner '08, a Davis resident. "It's worst when getting to bed, because ... it's one of the few things you can still hear."

The fact that the start of the project coincided with the start of finals was a problem for some. "Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but since it was time to study for finals, everyone was quiet and it could be easily heard while studying and going to sleep," remarked Keith Cassidy '09.

The noise affected some people enough to organize a group to find the source of the noise. On December 12, a group of between 40 and 50 students went up the Howe Center to complain about the noise. The students were told that the Office of Residence life would investigate the cause of the noise.

Davidson Lab has not been unresponsive to the complaints. According to Brian Fullerton, a research engineer in Davidson Lab, the Office of Residence Life asked the lab to turn the instrument off during last semester's final exam period. "We had a technical issue that IT was helping us resolve at the time, so we decided it was an easy request to grant until we cleared up our communications issue."

Over intersession, the device was turned on again, and Residence Life once again contacted the lab about the noise, particularly at night. In response, the power output has been halved from 8pm to 8am, and reduced by 10% during the day. "I hope this is a solution we can all live with," said Fullerton.

Recently, though, the noise has not been a problem. "I don't think there is a noise any more," commented Hibner. This is because the device has been temporarily shut off. "We will be testing new locations over the next week or so," said Michael Bruno, Director of the Center for Maritime Systems.

The SODAR device is part of an atmospheric research project being conducted by Davidson Laboratory and the Stevens Center for Maritime Systems, partnered with Brookhaven National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest Research Laboratory.

The data collection portion of the project is expected to continue into April, while the temperature remains low, with analysis of the collected data going on long after that.

This type of device is particularly new, with only a few currently being used worldwide. It is believed, however, that within a few years, SODAR devices will become common weather instruments.


World News
Posted: 2005-01-28 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

Report accuses Iraqi security forces of torture

In a new report, watchdog group Human Rights Watch claims that Iraqi security forces are committing systematic torture against people in detention. The report also criticizes the American and British governments for not acting to stop or prevent such abuses. The group claims the ongoing torture could jeopardize Iraq's government, especially with Iraq's elections scheduled for January 30. The interim Iraqi government declined to comment on the report.

Humanitarian rises eases slightly in Darfur

The World Health Organization is reporting that the disease-related death rate among refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan is on a decline. Violence in the Darfur region has left nearly 70,000 people dead and forced more than 1.5 million people from their homes. This has led to poor conditions in overcrowded refugee camps, leaving people with inadequate water, food, health, or sanitation services. The WHO's report comes as the United Nations prepares to announce whether the crisis in Darfur is considered genocide.

Hamas considers truce with Israel

Following talks with new Palestinian leader Mahmous Abbas, the militant group Hamas has said it will accept a truce with Israel, if Israel stops targeted killings and releases all Palestinian prisoners. The group has suspended attacks on Israel as it awaits a response, but warns that it would respond to any new attacks by Israel. If the calm continues, Israel has said it will have its armed forces hold fire. The announcement brings new hope for a peaceful settlement in the years-old dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.

Ukraine takes aim for EU membership

Newly-inaugurated Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko has vowed to make "the democratic changes ... irreversible" in an effort to gain membership to the European Union. At present, the EU has not offered Ukraine the prospect of membership, but it is seeking to strengthen existing partnerships with the nation. In an address to the Council of Europe, Yushchenko promised to reorganize the government and seek closer ties with the EU.


Your Liberty: Demand the liberty we were promised
Posted: 2005-01-28 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

In the inaugural address for his second term, President Bush used the word 'liberty' 16 times. It was mostly used in connection with the word 'freedom,' which the president claimed we needed to help spread to all people who did not have it.

Naturally, Bush spoke of an America that is wholly dedicated to ensuring freedom and liberty for everyone. If it were not for the fact that the first four years of his leadership amounted to the largest curtailing of liberty and freedom in this country since World War II, his remarks might have more meaning.

In the name of fighting terrorism and keeping America safe, the Bush administration has been a driving force behind laws and policies that effectively treat every person, citizen or otherwise, as a potential terrorist.

Circumventing nearly every legal protection guaranteed by our Constitution, Bush has declared that individuals he decides are 'enemy combatants' must be detained indefinitely, in military prisons, without a trial or even access to a lawyer. More recently, several agencies have investigated funding to detain certain people for life, even though there is no evidence to convict them of even conspiring to commit some wrongful act.

Civil liberties have been eroded for everyday citizens, too. With the USA PATRIOT Act, the government has greatly increased powers to spy on the activities of any citizen—in many cases, with the target unaware, since companies and libraries are legally barred from telling patrons when the government has requested information about them.

Other proposals have come and gone. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft proposed TIPS, which would have encouraged citizens to effectively spy on their neighbors and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.

The proposed CAPPS II project, canceled last summer, is making a return as Secure Flight. This plan would build a comprehensive database containing all sorts of personal information about airline passengers, to be used to determine the 'risk level' of each passenger.

Some proposals for a national identification card have also called for security checkpoints in America, where citizens would be stopped and required to present their ID. This would presumably be noted in a database, allowing the government to track the movements of individual citizens.

Former Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis once said, "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." The Bush administration's motives for their encroachments of liberty may be well-intentioned—to prevent another terrorist attack on America—but there needs to be a balance between that goal and the liberty that is fundamental to the American freedom we cherish.

It is possible to work to secure this nation without moving towards a totalitarian police state. For the next four years, we need to make it clear that we want to preserve our liberty, and prevent the government from getting a blank check to spy on its citizens. We are not criminals, and we should demand that the government stop treating us like we are.