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New world conquest bid

I usually try to resist the temptation to release little nuggets of news
before the weekly reports, but I can't resist these:

*   Saddam grabbing PlayStation 2s for weapons
Avanova, 19th December

US defence experts believe Saddam Hussein may be building a weapons
supercomputer from Sony PlayStation 2s.

Individual units of the powerful games console can be linked up and boosted
so their computing powers can be used to design and control long-range
missiles or even nuclear devices.

A leaked US Defence Intelligence Agency report confirms that up to 4,000 of
the consoles have been shipped to Iraq in the last three months.

Both US Customs and the FBI are investigating.

The news confirms the worst fears of the Japanese government, which first
warned of the potential danger of the high-specification PlayStation 2 eight
months ago.

Experts say that the PlayStation 2 designers may have unwittingly built a
machine ideal for weapons work because its technology is so advanced.

Exports of the console to Iraq are illegal in Japan.

One source tells WorldNet Daily: "Applications for this system are
potentially frightening. One expert I spoke with estimated that an
integrated bundle of 12 to 15 PlayStations could provide enough power to
control an Iraqi unmanned aerial vehicle."

It is believed Saddam Hussein may have exacerbated the Sony PlayStation 2
shortage.  19 December 2000

*  Iraq buys 4000 PlayStation 2s in world conquest bid
by Tony Smith
The Register, 19th December

Forget Jim Carrey - Saddam Hussein is the real Grinch who stole Christmas -
at least according to one Web site. It claims the Iraqi dictator is buying
up the world's supply - such as it is - of PlayStation 2 consoles to build
military supercomputers.

According to a WorldNetDaily report, US customs, the FBI and military
intelligence - a contradiction in terms if we ever heard one - are
investigating shipments of Sony's next generation games machine to Baghdad.
Some 4000 consoles have made their way to Iraq, those agencies reckon.

And that, says the report, is depriving American kiddies of their requested
Christmas prezzies, poor dears.

It's hard to know what's worse: children engaging in (virtual) acts of
mindless violence or the Republican Guard sharpening its skills on Tekken

Or even - and this is the angle a "secret" document leaked to WND takes on
the matter - a stack of the machines being wired together into some vast,
supercomputer configuration to be used to take over the world.

Sounds a bit Billion Dollar Brain to us - ie. bollocks - but we don't
suppose there's a good reason why Iraqi computer scientists can't get Linux
running in Beowolf configuration on 4000 PlayStation 2s for the purposes of
subverting Western democracy. Though we note that Florida seems to have done
a pretty good job of that already...

"Most Americans don't realise that each PlayStation unit contains a 32-bit
CPU - every bit as powerful as the processor found in most desktop and
laptop computers," one unnamed military intelligence source told WND.
"Beyond that, the graphics capabilities of a PlayStation [2] are staggering
- five times more powerful than that of a typical graphics workstation, and
roughly 15 times more powerful than the graphics cards found in most PCs."

Unnamed military source? 'Sony marketing mouth' would be a better

"Applications for this system are potentially frightening," said another
intelligence source. "One expert I spoke with estimated that an integrated
bundle of 12-15 PlayStations could provide enough computer power to control
an Iraqi unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV -- a pilotless aircraft."

Thanks for clarifying the meaning of the words 'unmanned' and 'aerial
vehicle' - we'd have never figured out they were the same as 'pilotless' and

Strewth. This sounds almost as bad as the scare stories from the early 1980s
of Sinclair ZX 81s being nabbed by the Soviet military so for their Z-80a
CPUs - handy for controlling ICBMs, we were told.

That story proved to be nothing but Cold War paranoia and survivalist
jack-off material, and that's pretty much what the WDN report appears to be.

"Bundled [sic] PlayStation computers could also be used to calculate
ballistic data for long range missiles, or in the design of nuclear
weapons... Iraq has long had difficulty calculating the potential yield of
nuclear devices - a critical requirement in designing such weapons," says
the WND story.

WDN describes itself as "a fiercely independent news service created to
capitalise on new media technology and opportunities, to reinterpret the
role of the free press as a guardian of liberty, an exponent of truth and an
uncompromising disseminator of news". Or, as we say over here, 'conspiracy

Put it this way, if Saddam isn't buying all those PS Twos, you can bet Elvis
or JFK certainly is...
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