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CRACKDOWN ON THE CAVIAR SMUGGLERS

Identification of a problem, but no discussion of the organisations responsible. Classic problem: cheap to obtain in countries of origin, expensive on the fat cats’ plates.
Caspian Sea said to be the source of the best, but whitefish roe and North Atlantic Salmon roe too every bit as good, says Wikipedia.
So are we talking Russian Mafias, Chechens, Ukranians, Azerbaijanis or good old fashioned English crooks here? Even Iranians are possible candidates. Trade in caviar was effectively banned in 2006, so classic case of social labelling here.
2002 Telegraph article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/08/29/wcav29.xml
describes “mules” being used to deliver it to New York. Organised by a “Russian” called Tsimbal.
2005 story from Caucaz: http://www.caucaz.com/home_eng/breve_contenu.php?id=131
Trade centres on the city of Siyezen, in Azerbaijan, halfway between Baku and Dagestan.
Aha! Under Soviet rule, there were fish-breeding farms, closed down since collapse of Communism. The local chief of police now demands $1,00 a month form boat captains and dealers. Classic crime story: create a shortage, get the idiots to criminalise it and then clean up! [Discuss]

ROBIN HOOD IS ALIVE AND WELL AND WORKING IN INDIA

Little changes in the world. A “take from the rich, give to the poor” figure with his band of supporters operates deep in Madhya Pradesh. If he is doing half of what is attributed to him, he must have quite a financial network too, unless his money is kept in cash under a tree somewhere. Half modern, half mediaeval. I wonder if that is the full story. Unusual piece for the Washington Post.

WHY RADICAL ISLAM JUST WON’T DIE

Thoughtful op-ed piece from the New York Times. Yet again, the moderates are being squeezed between a rock and a hard place. I wonder if there is a research piece on ideology and organised crime to be written? Must also do a comparison of 60s Marxism and anarchism with contemporary extremism. Not for content, but for the different directions schism took and takes.

ITALY, TOXIC WASTE, THE MAFIA AND MOZARELLA

Independent winding up the middle classes on a Saturday morning. This is the big cover story.

“Of course we don’t know for sure scientifically, but the high rate of dioxin is most likely linked to what the buffaloes ate,”an unnamed Italian “expert” is quoted as saying…

OK there is a crisis of rubbish collection in Naples. OK, the Camorra are linked [and they arent the local “branch” of the Mafia, Indy editors. Theyre an independent loosely organised bunch, who may do the odd deal with the Sicilian Mafia, the N’drangheta in Calabria, or even the back from the dead Corona Sagrada of Puglia, but there ain’t no Weberian hierarchy here]. They may even all just be brand names.

There is a follow-up article here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/europe/modern-mafia-operates-at-every-level-of-italian-society-799290.html
It is awfully broad brush and clearly the Indy must be having circulation trouble, or expects all its readers to be waiting for planes to Chiantishire for their Easter break.

Still at least the paper recognises there is life beyond la Manche!

CNN presents a calmer view of the mozarella crisis here: http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/03/21/italy.cheese.ap/index.html

IN NEW YORK, A TURF WAR IN THE BATTLE AGAINST TERRORISM

Washington Post piece ilustrating the problems of competing national and local agencies not sharing intelligence. You would think someone somewhere would have learned by now. But the battle for resources id much more bitter than the battle with terrorists…Discuss [Oops, i did it again!]
Is this problem worse for the US than for other countries, given the decentralised nature of policing there? Or is it just that the FBI, having muscled its way abroad and competing with the CIA and the DEA just doesnt want anyone else on its patch.
Are our policing, security and intelligence services appropriately organised to delivery security and respect privacy and other human rights? There’s the super-discuss question for the day, children.

FATF TERRORIST FINANCING REPORT

Has some estimates of costs in it, which are always useful. I havent had time to go through it in detail, but it isnt just about compliance with FATF directives, for a change. Some useful stuff in here which will have to be engaged with by anyone writing on terrorist financing.

FBI OPENS PROBE OF CHINA-BASED HACKERS

Attacks on a group campaiging to save Darfur. The cui bono test can only point to the Sudanese government or to China. Article refers to what it calls a “near decade-old pattern of cyber-espionage and cyber-intimidation by the Chinese government against critics of its human rights practices, experts said”. No expert named or quoted. The Chinese say the allegation is false.

Presumably we can expect lots more anti-China stories in the run-up to the Olympics. Previous post suggests free-lancers certainly exist in China. Must check out what western ex-hackers claim is going on. Time to check out the Cult of the Dead Cow [oh, yes, I’m afraid so! OK, try the Legion of Doom if you prefer it. The Wikipedia site for them is one of the funniest Ive read in a while]

Wikipedia says that the Cult of the Dead Cow worked with the Hong Kong Blondes in the 1990s to disrupt computer networks in China for the purpose of allowing access to censored content. They have since severed contact. This is all part of “Hacktivismo”

if you want to pursue the subject, the Cult’s Home page is at: http://www.cultdeadcow.com/
If youre a bit of a wimp on these issues and afraid of being hacked, stick to the Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_of_the_Dead_Cow

Something is going on in webworld, and academics will be getting grants to research it before too long. Even looser networks than usual are involved.

STRUGGLING FOR SOLUTIONS AS OPIUM TRADE BLOSSOMS

Washington Post article about Uruzgan province Afghanistan. Beware the production figures. Not too long ago, the DEA site actually showed Burma well out-producing Afghanistan. It’s only since the West decided to try to stop opium production that the figures have increased logarithmically.
Either: the West has the worst policies in the world for drug eradication, that do the opposite of what is intended
Or: the figures are complete inventions.
Or: organised crime took over the military a long time ago.

Make up your own explanation, but there is something wrong somewhere. The figures are the most likely to be manipulated, using Occam’s razor to find the simplest explanation.

5 SUSPECTED SKINHEADS HELD IN RAIDS

I would have thought you were either a skinhead or you weren’t. Fairly easy to tell. Members of neo-Nazi group suspected of hate crimes including murder arrested in Moscow. Gives figures for numbers killed by skinheads [allegedly, presumably]

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