Misc

[UPDATE] – Thanks to this arrest, Scott Day got to spend the last few months of his life in fear and anxiety. He has now passed on. You can find more information about his passing here.

The police raid occurred on February 1st, 2008 at the home of a terminally ill Dillion, MT man and his girlfriend. The gentleman lives with a disease which usually overtakes its victims by the age of 12. For this, he has become a registered medical marijuana patient in the state of Montana.

According to the Dillonite Daily article:

“The indoor marijuana grow utilized a very sophisticated venting system that was intended to keep the project hidden from the outside.”

The police seized 96 plants after what they call a three-month “investigation.” The terminally ill and suffering patient and his girlfriend are now facing 2 years to life and a fine of, up to, $50,000 for the offense.

The Montana Standard reported that Blair Martenson, an agent in charge with the Southwest Montana Drug Task Force in Butte, had this to say about the home:

“This was a marijuana growing operation that was pretty well sophisticated with the way it was set up.”

Of course, obtaining the medicine in question will probably not be easy for the patient during the investigation. To top things off, according to investigators, the processing is taking unusually long. This is due to the “huge amount of evidence in this case.” Martenson added that the delay was due delay in charges is common as agents must send the marijuana to a crime lab to confirm that it’s an illegal drug.

I would have hoped that somewhere during the three-month investigation they would have enough conclusive evidence to determine that it is marijuana.

This private garden served as the source of medicinal marijuana for registeredpatients in the area. Bob Meharg, chairman of Patients and Families United, said in a news release:

“Taxpayers have just footed the bill for an untold number of wasted dollars in this sad incident near Dillon and, if the government charges and manages to convict the patient involved, we’ll be paying more than $136,000 every month for the patient’s medical care alone. I am shocked to see that the government is claiming that it investigated this case for three months, yet when the government acted against this poor patient it was in such complete ignorance both of our state’s medical marijuana law and of the basic facts of this situation.”

In 2004, Montana voters – by the widest margin in U.S. history – approved making medical marijuana legal for patients suffering certain medical conditions. Dillon’s Beaverhead County was one of the many counties where a majority of voters passed the measure. The law specifies that qualifying patients may grow and possess enough marijuana to meet their legitimate medical needs. Currently, nearly 600 Montanans in 34 counties are registered medical marijuana patients based on recommendations from 145 physicians across the state.

This is not the first medical marijuana tragedy within recent months that have occurred at the hands of Montana law enforcement or federal law enforcement in Montana.

Unfortunately, this has not been picked up by major news sources in the state or the country. In fact, the title for the Montana Standard article read as:

Felony charges pending in large pot growing operation near Dillon

The ignorance of people surrounding medical marijuana was further reflected in the comments left on the page:

ulvejaeger wrote on Feb 14, 2008 9:04 PM:
” Isn’t it quaint how Beaverhead Co. & surrounding area’s despise the Fed’s until they want to get rid of a bunch o bad asses? Congratulations SWMDTF! Job well done! Hope Mr. McCann puts the hurt on em. ”

CalRipken wrote on Feb 14, 2008 3:18 PM:
” Good Job Martenson. You should get a raise. Keep plugging away. Another one bites the dust. Chalk up another one for the good guys. You should take him Federal and lock him up for 15 years. 96 plants should meet the Fed standards. Tell the other guys who worked the case Good Job, too. And do a high five for me, Yes! “

I was under the assumption that our country was supposed to be helping those most in need. Even though this individual took the time to obtain his medicine through legal avenues that were accepted and voted upon by a government within the United States of America, prohibition still reigns supreme.

For more information, please check out the following links:

Maybe, one day, we’ll live in a world where our children won’t ask why the bad man is going to jail, but why the bad men are taking the nice man away.

Misc

Finally got this completed. If you want to take a look at it in Google Earth (or just want a bigger look), then check out this link and click on the “Open in Google Earth” link. You can also just download the .kml file directly from here. For the most detailed information about the cuts including detailed maps of the cables check out “The Submarine Cables – A Complete Guide to the 2008 Internet Outage.”

Misc

More and more news outlets are starting to pick up on the story of the recently damaged submarine cables. Information about the damages to the cables has been garbled and determining those basic necessities of (responsible) reporting has become difficult. Who, what, where and when? Reports of the numbers of cables affected are now ranging from 5 cuts to 9 cuts. Most major news outlets are sitting in the 4-5 range while others (usually a bit more independent) are playing in the higher numbers. There are acronyms a plenty and information strewn from message boards to major news sources.

As a concerned citizen I found that it was very important to trace these stories to their sources and do my best to give you the most accurate information on what appears to have happened in the past couple of weeks underneath the waters covering most of this planet we call home.

I hope that I can help to shed some light on this subject and help to ease rumors and misinformation that seems to run rampant when events like this occur. So, in good reporting fashion, we will split up the cable crisis into an easy to understand format which will, (hopefully) help for those of you still swimming through the mess that has been made.

Who

There have been a number of reports with estimates of the number of people affected. The following table provides some of those numbers. Just click on the number for the source:

India 60,000,000
Pakistan 12,000,000
Egypt 6,000,000
Saudi Arabia 4,700,000
Iran 4,000,000
United Arab Emirates 1,700,000
Algeria 1,000,000
Sudan 1,000,000
Lebanon 400,000
Syria 300,000
Total 91,100,000
Countries also affected Bahrain, Bangladesh, Maldives

Renysys.com has offered some excellent technical information into the countries affected by the Mediterranean cable breaks. Who is Renysys? From their website:

“Our optimized algorithms gather real-time data from the Internet backbone, around-the-clock. We analyze the major Internet transit providers and compile objective, comprehensive information into real-world statistics on regional trends and route selection in the retail, wholesale, and backbone markets.”

You can check additional technical information by visiting their blog and looking in their archives.

What

The submarine cables, that you are probably aware of by now, are communications lines which help transfer data, such as: voice, internet & multimedia, long distances underneath the seas and oceans covering this planet. Laying these cables is no small task. The amount of cable required and the sheer size and weight of the cables call for some of the larger ships on the sea. This is a photo from Wikipedia of the René Descartes (though examples of other ships can be found here and here):


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The maelstrom of stories falling around the internet are all about damages that have occurred along the cables. There have been a range of speculations as to how the cables may have been damaged. These speculations range from collision with anchors by ships in a storm, to international conflicts.

There are three major submarine cables that have been damaged. The cables can be easily confused given the spread out nature of the news sources of the internet and the number of acronyms that there are. Here are the three cables, along with the links to the official websites, in question:

  • SEA-ME-WE 4: the “South East-Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4“. This cable stretches from France to Malaysia.

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  • FALCON: the “Flag Acatel-Lucent Optical Network.” This cable stretches from the tip of the Suez canal in Egypt, around into the Persian Gulf, across the Indian Ocean, and down to Malaysia.

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  • FEA: the “Flag Europe Asia“. This cable stretches from Europe all the way to the Eastern side of Asia.

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These are the cables that were damaged in just a few days. Repairing the cables can take weeks. In 2006 we were privy to an unfortunate example of how these cables can be damaged when the country of Taiwan was shocked by the highly destructive Hengchun earthquake, and the aftershocks that followed. Some sources have, unfortunately, pointed to this as an example of just how often underwater cables are damaged. Alcatel-Lucent has a pretty good animation of the repair process (they are also the source for the maps on this page):


No major natural disaster can be blamed for the recent internet outages — though there are those who have attributed the damages to ships dragging their anchors along the bottom of the oceans in inclement weather (not a disaster, albeit natural).

When & Where

As far as this author can tell, there have been 9 cuts that have been reported on, at least, three different days.

  1. Day 1 – January 23rd, 2008 – 1st cut – FALCON near Bandar Abbas, Iran

    Bijal Sanghani, the Sr. IP Technical Support Engineer of the Technical Services Group of FLAG Telecom wrote, in an repair schedule e-mail, that there were damages on both of the FALCON cables leaving Bandar Abbas, Iran. One was listed as February 1st. This is the other:

    “FALCON Segment 7b (Bandra Abbas – Al Seeb) – E-Marine continues to await the permit to enter the Iranian waters and current forecast for the ship to start a work is around 19th February.”

    The Khaleej Times also reports that Mahesh Jaishanker, an executive director in business development and marketing for du (a telecom company in the United Arab Emirates) said that:

    “The first cut in the undersea Internet cable occurred on January 23, in the Flag Telcoms FALCON submarine cable which was not reported. This has not been repaired yet and the cause remains unknown, explained Jaishanker.”


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    David Vorster, a forecaster from Gulfnews said of the weather on the 23rd:

    “”The weather is nothing much to write about,” […] adding that the conditions are normal for this time of the year.”

  2. Day 2 – January 30th – 2nd, 3rd & 4th Cuts – SEA-ME-WE 4 and FEA in the Mediterranean

    Although the times for the cuts were not recorded, the data from Renesys recorded major events occurring in the Mediterranean area at (UTC) 4:30am, 6:00am and 8:00am with another event (quite possibly re-routing) occurring at 13:00pm:


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    The owners of the cables only reported the damages outside of Alexandria, Egypt. However, the New York Times reported that telecommunications officers stated a cable was damaged

    “…in the waters off Marseille, France.”

    This corresponds with the spokesman for Flag Telecom who, speaking on the Alexandria damages, told The Register:

    “One of the ship’s anchors cut our cable but there are multiple cuts – we’re not the only company having problems.”


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    The cut outside of Marseille would also explain the loss of connection experienced in Algeria, across the Mediterranean, from France.

    The other two cuts were outside of Alexandria, Egypt. Flag Telecom acknowledged FEA was damaged 8.3km off the coast. The second, SEA-ME-WE 4, was reported damaged 25km off the coast by the Associated Press Pakistan and written about at Netxpress Online.


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  3. Day 3 – February 1st, 2008 – 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th Cuts – FALCON (& possibly FEA) in the Suez Canal and the Persian Gulf

    Cut number 5, in the Persian Gulf, was reported by Qatar Telecom. It was reported to be between Haloul Island, Qatar and Omas Das Island, UAE. Cut number 6 was reported on the link that connects Dubai, UAE with Oman. It was said that this one was 56km off of the coast of Dubai.


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    Cut number 7 was reported by a Flag official who did not want to be named. They told Zaywa Dow Jones that there was a cut on a

    “…fibre optic cable running through the Suez to Sri Lanka [on] Friday.”

    The only Flag line that runs from the Suez out towards Sri Lanka is Flag Europe Asia. However, the article says that the official was talking about FALCON (which does not run to Sri Lanka, but does run out the Suez Canal). Therefore, it is safe to say that either FEA or FALCON was the cable they were talking about:


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    Cut number 8 was back at Bandar-Abbas Iran. This time, it was on the other segment of the FALCON cable as reported by the same repair email from earlier:

    “FALCON Segment 7a – Fault 1st February between BND (Bandar Abbas, Iran) and KWI (Kuwait), we are waiting for ship to go out and it maybe fixed before going out the fault on 7b – to be confirmed.”


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  4. Reported February 5th9th Cut – FEA near Penang, Malaysia

    The last cut does not have an accurate date associated with it. However, it was reported along with the other cuts that occurred on February 1st. This particular cut was 28km out from Penang, Malaysia. It was first reported in the Khaleej Times:

    “These are SeaMeWe-4 (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe-4) near Penang, Malaysia…”

    The damage was also reported in the repair email that was sent by Flag:

    “FEA Segment M – The cable ship CS Asean Restorer has been booked for this repair. It is currently out on an APCN repair and with current plan will be ready to start any work on our cable on or after 11th Feb. We have the OTDR traces from Penang and see that the fault is around 28km out from the station.”


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    The Asean Restorer was also out near that area repairing submarine cables in September and November of 2007.

Well, there you have it: the most complete guide to the 2008 internet outage available. I hope that this article was successful in helpful you understand the submarine cables mess that has been created on the internet. Now if only we could get the “Why” portion of this guide completed. At least now you have the facts. Maybe now, others can start working on why this may have occurred.

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