Chechnya’s Long History of Jihadism

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Max Boot shares some lessons from Chechnya’s long history of Jihadism — which started in the 18th century and continues into the 21st century:

But it was in the 19th century that it produced its most notable personality — a forerunner of Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi known simply as Shamil.

Born in 1796, Shamil became imam of the gazavat (holy war) against the Russians in 1834 after his predecessor as imam was assassinated by tribal rivals. A skilled horseman, sword fighter, and gymnast, Shamil cut an impressive figure, standing six feet three inches and appearing taller still because of his heavy lambskin cap, the papakh. His flowing beard was dyed orange with henna, and his face was, in Tolstoy’s telling, “as immovable as though hewn out of stone.” His force of personality was such that one of his followers said that “flames darted from his eyes and flowers fell from his lips.”

To keep a desperate resistance going against overwhelming odds required the ability not only to inspire hope but also to instill fear. Shamil was a master of both. He traveled everywhere with his own personal executioner, chopping off heads and hands for violating the dictates of Allah and his humble servant, the Commander of the Faithful in the Caucasus. Although he was influenced primarily by the Sufist tradition, Shamil’s “fanatical puritan movement,” notes one history book, “was in many ways comparable to the contemporary Wahhabi movement in Arabia.” He did not hesitate to slaughter entire aouls (villages) that did not heed his demands.

When a group of Chechens, hard-pressed by the Russians, sought permission to surrender, they were so afraid of his wrath that they conveyed their request through Shamil’s mother, thinking this would make him more amenable. Upon hearing what she had to say, Shamil announced that he would seek divine guidance to formulate an answer. He spent the next three days and nights in a mosque, fasting and praying. He emerged with bloodshot eyes to announce, “It is the will of Allah that whoever first transmitted to me the shameful intentions of the Chechen people should receive one hundred severe blows, and that person is my own mother!” To the astonished gasps of the crowd, his followers, known as the murids (“he who seeks” in Arabic), seized the old lady and began beating her with a plaited strap. She fainted after the fifth blow. Shamil announced that he would take upon himself the rest of the punishment, and ordered his men to beat him with heavy whips, vowing to kill anyone who hesitated. He absorbed the ninety-five blows “without betraying the least sign of suffering.” Or so legend had it.

This street theater helped animate Shamil’s murids to maintain a fierce resistance. He mobilized over ten thousand men to conquer much of Chechnya and Dagestan and inflicted thousands of casualties on Russian pursuers. But over time, his ruthlessness cost Shamil popular support — as it did for more recent Chechen rebels. Tribal chieftains who did not want to cede authority to this religious firebrand turned for support to the Russians. So did many ordinary villagers who balked at his demands for annual tax payments amounting to 12 percent of their harvest.

A Study of the Maker of Middle Earth

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Bruce Charlton strongly recommends this Tolkien documentary:

His anti-modernism seems rather Butlerian Jihad avant la lettre.

Why Is the Golden Age of Television So Dark?

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

We’re living in a Golden Age of Television, Megan McArdle notes, but why is it so dark?, she wonders:

We watch so many crime dramas because there are no big stakes in middle-class American life. The criminal underworld is one place where decisions actually matter — and can be shown to matter, dramatically.

You look at novels of the 19th century and they are filled with terrible, dramatic dilemmas that actually did face ordinary people. People lost everything, and risked starvation; they performed terrible, cruel, dangerous work for years on end in order to make a little money; they died from the risks of their job or the ordinary diseases that used to carry off so many people in their prime. Women had to choose between love and the economic security of a well-off suitor. The result of a regrettable night of passion could be expulsion from polite society, or a hasty forced marriage. People in the 19th century, and into the middle of the 20th, faced a lot of dilemmas wherein doing the wrong things could permanently destroy their lives.

America has less drama because compared with the 19th century, our economic and social systems are basically risk free. Don’t get me wrong: Being poor is still really terrible. But almost no one who is poor in modern America (with the exception of a few drug addicts and mentally ill people) is seriously at risk of spending an extended period of time without heat, food, clothing or shelter. The ordinary poor do not starve to death, and they do not freeze to death. Those were real things that could happen to, say, a middle-class family without close relatives whose bread-earner died. They were real things that did happen to a lot of people, not one random case that made the news because it’s so unusual.

Hollywood’s Favorite Blacksmith Delivers

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

Tony Swatton read Robert E. Howard’s swords & sorcery stories as a kid and wanted his own sword, so he learned how to make a knife. Then he went to a Renaissance fair and watched the armorer — so he could go home, replicate the equipment, and forge his own suit of armor. Now he’s Hollywood’s favorite blacksmith:

His business is called The Sword and the Stone, and he has his own Man At Arms YouTube Channel.

How a Sweet Factory Became an Assembly Line for Badminton Gold

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Bangkok’s House of Golden Teardrops is a dessert factory — and a badminton champion factory, too:

Thailand’s teenage world champion Ratchanok Inthanon first picked up a badminton racket here as a young child, after her parents moved to the plant from their home near the border with Cambodia to help make sweet dumplings and other Thai treats. The owner, Kamala Thongkorn, worried that young Ratchanok might run into vats of boiling water and super-heated sugar dotting the factory. She suggested that the girl might like to play badminton at the court built off to the side of the plant. Ms. Kamala’s sons were already showing promise and went on to represent their country.

Today, one of Ms. Kamala’s sons, Pattapol Ngernsrisuk, 33, is Ms. Ratchanok’s coach. And the single badminton court attached to the factory has mushroomed into an 18-court badminton school that has attracted players from around the world–and is giving Thailand hope that it can churn out a slew of new players to compete at the highest levels of one of Asia’s most popular sports.


Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Legendary fantasy artist Brom worked for TSR during the company’s heyday — right before it went bankrupt:

Most of TSR’s management in that day were non-creatives — neither artists, nor writers, nor even gamers. Did this stop them from telling the creatives how to do their craft? Nope. Not one bit. A line I will never forget came about as I was starting a new cover. I was informed that this was a very important cover and told to use only my most expensive colors. What? Huh? Did they want me to paint the damn thing in rose madder and cobalt violet? I knew of no way to answer them that wouldn’t have gotten me fired.

Brom Dark Sun

Brom’s childhood drawings look like ordinary kids’ drawings:

I remember always being able to draw at a level above my peers, so there was a certain amount of natural talent at play, but by my early teens I became obsessive, drawing every day, it was all I wanted to do. Also, I was never satisfied with my work (even to this day) and I think that drive to find that perfect painting is what pushes some ahead of others and certainly keeps an artist growing.

Brom Monster Parade


Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Kevin Kelly watched The Hobbit in the theater and then went back and watched the high-frame-rate (HFR) version, which seemed shockingly different. No one could explain to him why it seemed so different, until he met John Knoll the co-creator of Photoshop and an Oscar-winning Visual Effects Director — whose explanation he paraphrases:

Imagine you had the lucky privilege to be invited by Peter Jackson onto the set of the Hobbit. You were standing right off to the side while they filmed Bilbo Baggins in his cute hobbit home. Standing there on the set you would notice the incredibly harsh lighting pouring down on Bilbo’s figure. It would be obviously fake. And you would see the makeup on Bilbo’s in the harsh light. The text-book reason filmmakers add makeup to actors and then light them brightly is that film is not as sensitive as the human eye, so these aids compensated for the film’s deficiencies of being insensitive to low light and needing the extra contrast provided by makeup. These fakeries were added to “correct” film so it seemed more like we saw. But now that 48HFR and hi-definition video mimic our eyes better, it’s like we are standing on the set, and we suddenly notice the artifice of the previously needed aids. When we view the video in “standard” format, the lighting correctly compensates, but when we see it in high frame rate, we see the artifice of the lighting as if we were standing there on the set.

Knoll asked me, “You probably only noticed the odd lighting in the interior scenes, not in the outdoors scenes, right?” And once he asked it this way, I realized he was right. The scenes in the HFR version that seemed odd were all inside. The landscape scenes were stunning in a good way. “That’s because they didn’t have to light the outside; the real lighting is all that was needed, so nothing seemed amiss.”

Drug Mimics Endurance Training

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

A drug candidate developed at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), SR9009, mimics endurance training:

The compounds work by binding to one of the body’s natural molecules called Rev-erb?, which influences lipid and glucose metabolism in the liver, the production of fat-storing cells and the response of macrophages (cells that remove dying or dead cells) during inflammation.

In the new study, a team led by scientists at the Institut Pasteur de Lille in France demonstrated that mice lacking Rev-erb? had decreased skeletal muscle metabolic activity and running capacity. Burris’ group showed that activation of Rev-erb? with SR9009 led to increased metabolic activity in skeletal muscle in both culture and in mice. The treated mice had a 50 percent increase in running capacity, measured by both time and distance.

Safest Car Ever

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Tesla’s Model S sedan is the safest car ever:

Independent testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the Tesla Model S a 5-star safety rating, not just overall, but in every subcategory without exception. Approximately one percent of all cars tested by the federal government achieve 5 stars across the board. NHTSA does not publish a star rating above 5, however safety levels better than 5 stars are captured in the overall Vehicle Safety Score (VSS) provided to manufacturers, where the Model S achieved a new combined record of 5.4 stars.

Of all vehicles tested, including every major make and model approved for sale in the United States, the Model S set a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants. While the Model S is a sedan, it also exceeded the safety score of all SUVs and minivans. This score takes into account the probability of injury from front, side, rear and rollover accidents.

The Model S has the advantage in the front of not having a large gasoline engine block, thus creating a much longer crumple zone to absorb a high speed impact. This is fundamentally a force over distance problem — the longer the crumple zone, the more time there is to slow down occupants at g loads that do not cause injuries. Just like jumping into a pool of water from a tall height, it is better to have the pool be deep and not contain rocks. The Model S motor is only about a foot in diameter and is mounted close to the rear axle, and the front section that would normally contain a gasoline engine is used for a second trunk.


For the side pole intrusion test, considered one of the most difficult to pass, the Model S was the only car in the “good” category among the other top one percent of vehicles tested. Compared to the Volvo S60, which is also 5-star rated in all categories, the Model S preserved 63.5 percent of driver residual space vs. 7.8 percent for the Volvo. Tesla achieved this outcome by nesting multiple deep aluminum extrusions in the side rail of the car that absorb the impact energy (a similar approach was used by the Apollo Lunar Lander) and transfer load to the rest of the vehicle. This causes the pole to be either sheared off or to stop the car before the pole hits an occupant.

The rear crash testing was particularly important, given the optional third row children’s seat. For this, Tesla factory installs a double bumper if the third row seat is ordered. This was needed in order to protect against a highway speed impact in the rear with no permanently disabling injury to the third row occupants. The third row is already the safest location in the car for frontal or side injuries.

The Model S was also substantially better in rollover risk, with the other top vehicles being approximately 50 percent worse. During testing at an independent facility, the Model S refused to turn over via the normal methods and special means were needed to induce the car to roll. The reason for such a good outcome is that the battery pack is mounted below the floor pan, providing a very low center of gravity, which simultaneously ensures exceptional handling and safety.

Of note, during validation of Model S roof crush protection at an independent commercial facility, the testing machine failed at just above 4 g’s. While the exact number is uncertain due to Model S breaking the testing machine, what this means is that at least four additional fully loaded Model S vehicles could be placed on top of an owner’s car without the roof caving in. This is achieved primarily through a center (B) pillar reinforcement attached via aerospace grade bolts.

The above results do not tell the full story. It is possible to game the regulatory testing score to some degree by strengthening a car at the exact locations used by the regulatory testing machines. After verifying through internal testing that the Model S would achieve a NHTSA 5-star rating, Tesla then analyzed the Model S to determine the weakest points in the car and retested at those locations until the car achieved 5 stars no matter how the test equipment was configured.

They describe the low, low price as $580 per month, after gas savings.

The Business Habits of Highly Effective Terrorists

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

It’s hard leading terrorists:

Given that terrorists are, by definition, engaged in criminal activity, you would think that they would place a premium on secrecy. But historically, many terrorist groups have been meticulous record keepers. Members of the Red Brigades, an Italian terrorist group active in the 1970s and early 1980s, report having spent more time accounting for their activities than actually training or preparing attacks. From 2005 through at least 2010, senior leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq kept spreadsheets detailing salary payments to hundreds of fighters, among many other forms of written records. And when the former military al Qaeda military commander Mohammed Atef had a dispute with Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, an explosives expert for the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, in the 1990s, one of his complaints was that Umar failed to turn in his receipts for a trip he took with his family.

Such bureaucracy makes terrorists vulnerable to their enemies. But terrorists do it anyway. In part, that is because large-scale terror plots and extended terror campaigns require so much coordination that they cannot be carried out without detailed communication among the relevant actors and written records to help leaders track what is going on. Gerry Bradley, a former terrorist with the Provisional Irish Republican Army, for example, describes in his memoir how he required his subordinates in Belfast in 1973 to provide daily reports on their proposed operations so that he could ensure that the activities of subunits did not conflict. Several leaders of the Kenyan Mau Mau insurgency report that, as their movement grew in the early 1950s, they needed to start maintaining written accounting records and fighter registries to monitor their finances and personnel.

But the deeper part of the answer is that the managers of terrorist organizations face the same basic challenges as the managers of any large organization. What is true for Walmart is true for al Qaeda: Managers need to keep tabs on what their people are doing and devote resources to motivate their underlings to pursue the organization’s aims. In fact, terrorist managers face a much tougher challenge. Whereas most businesses have the blunt goal of maximizing profits, terrorists’ aims are more precisely calibrated: An attack that is too violent can be just as damaging to the cause as an attack that is not violent enough. Al Qaeda in Iraq learned this lesson in Anbar Province in 2006, when the local population turned against them, partly in response to the group’s violence against civilians who disagreed with it.

Terrorist leaders also face a stubborn human resources problem: Their talent pool is inherently unstable. Terrorists are obliged to seek out recruits who are predisposed to violence — that is to say, young men with a chip on their shoulder. Unsurprisingly, these recruits are not usually disposed to following orders or recognizing authority figures. Terrorist managers can craft meticulous long-term strategies, but those are of little use if the people tasked with carrying them out want to make a name for themselves right now.

Terrorist managers are also obliged to place a premium on bureaucratic control, because they lack other channels to discipline the ranks. When Walmart managers want to deal with an unruly employee or a supplier who is defaulting on a contract, they can turn to formal legal procedures. Terrorists have no such option. David Ervine, a deceased Irish Unionist politician and onetime bomb maker for the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), neatly described this dilemma to me in 2006. “We had some very heinous and counterproductive activities being carried out that the leadership didn’t punish because they had to maintain the hearts and minds within the organization,” he said, referring to a period in the late 1980s when he and the other leaders had made a strategic calculation that the Unionist cause was best served by focusing on nonviolent political competition. In Ervine’s (admittedly self-interested) telling, the UVF’s senior leaders would have ceased violence much earlier than the eventual 1994 cease-fire, but they could not do so because the rank and file would have turned on them. For terrorist managers, the only way to combat those “counterproductive activities” is to keep a tight rein on the organization. Recruiting only the most zealous will not do the trick, because, as the alleged chief of the Palestinian group Black September wrote in his memoir, “diehard extremists are either imbeciles or traitors.”

So someone in Zawahiri’s position has his hands full: To pull off a major attack, he needs to coordinate among multiple terrorists, track what his operatives are doing regardless of their intentions, and motivate them to follow orders against their own maverick instincts. Fortunately for the rest of us, the things terrorists do to achieve these tasks sow the seeds of their undoing. Placing calls, sending e-mails, keeping spreadsheets, and having members request reimbursements all create opportunities for intelligence agencies to learn what terrorists are up to and then disrupt them. In that way, Zawahiri’s failures are not just a reflection of his personal weaknesses but a case study in the inherent limits that all terror groups face.

I’m reminded of the journal of a new COBRA recruit.

The Post-Productive Economy

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Kevin Kelly takes a look at some farm houses under construction in remote areas of Yunnan province China:

They were not unusual; farmsteads this size were everywhere in rural China. Note the scale of these massive buildings. Each support post is cut from a single huge tree. The massive earth walls are three stories high and taper toward the top. They are homes for a single extended family built in the traditional Tibetan farmhouse style. They are larger than most middle-class American homes. The extensive wood carvings inside and outside will be painted in garish colors, like this family room shown in a finished home. This area of Yunnan is consider one of the poorer areas in China, and the standard of living of the inhabitants here would be classified as “poor.”

Yunan Mansion 1

Part of the reason is that these homes have no running water, no grid electricity, and no toilets. They don’t even have outhouses.

Yunan Mansion 2

But the farmers and their children who live in these homes all have cell phones, and they have accounts on the Chinese versions of Twitter and Facebook, and recharge via solar panels.

Yunan Mansion 3

Robert Gordon asks, Is U.S. Economic Growth Over?, and answers, yes, because our current information revolution is obviously not as important as previous industrial revolutions:

With option A you are allowed to keep 2002 electronic technology, including your Windows 98 laptop accessing Amazon, and you can keep running water and indoor toilets; but you can’t use anything invented since 2002. Option B is that you get everything invented in the past decade right up to Facebook, Twitter, and the iPad, but you have to give up running water and indoor toilets. You have to haul the water into your dwelling and carry out the waste. Even at 3am on a rainy night, your only toilet option is a wet and perhaps muddy walk to the outhouse. Which option do you choose?


I have posed this imaginary choice to several audiences in speeches, and the usual reaction is a guffaw, a chuckle, because the preference for Option A is so obvious.

To the farmers in rural China, Option A is not obvious at all.


Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

One of Rory Miller’s most formative experiences came from playing football at his tiny high school:

My school was small. Graduating class of six. My junior year, for the first time in almost a decade, they had enough boys to field a B-league (eight man) football team. If I went out for it. As a junior, I was almost the smallest kid in the school. I didn’t break 5 foot tall or a hundred pounds until the summer before my junior year. (I did basketball and track, too. Really small school.) It was a lot of pressure, but we had a team and I played.

And I learned more about human dynamics, and power plays and politics and bullying in that locker room than any academic could ever dream. As did damn near every male (I have no idea how women’s team sports are) who has been through the same thing. Most importantly I learned that size was not a tenth as important as the willingness to stand up. And knocking people down was not as important as getting up yourself. And stepping in to help others is noble, but expecting people to step in is stupid.

And there is a qualitative difference in every aspect of life between the men who have navigated that experience successfully and the ones who have not. I see most of the anti-bullying industry as weak people who failed at overcoming it as children fantasizing about a solution from the distance of adulthood.

Sometimes I see anti-bullying causes as wanting to create a world where it is safe to be weak. And I get that. I like the idea of a safe world. But I virulently despise the concept of a world of the weak. The mild. The insipid. And that is one of the inevitable unintended consequences of making a world too safe.

Much of ‘good’ is unnatural. It takes a sustained act of will. It would take an enormous and coherent act of will to make bullying go away, and even then it will keep cropping up. But if we were to raise children in that perfect environment, would we make them incapable of dealing with adversity? Would the weirdness of people who believe that hurt feelings are are more real than spilled blood, spread? Would our society become a hothouse flower, beautiful but incapable of surviving without the charity of others?

If people never learn to stand up, they become dependent on others to stand up for them. It’s personal, but dependency is one of my core sins. It is the other half of slavery.

Luck is not a magical ability

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Richard Wiseman has found that luck is not a magical ability — nor is it simply the result of random chance:

Nor are people born lucky or unlucky. Instead, although lucky and unlucky people have almost no insight into the real causes of their good and bad luck, their thoughts and behavior are responsible for much of their fortune. My research revealed that lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

Take the case of chance opportunities. Lucky people consistently encounter such opportunities whereas unlucky people do not. I carried out a very simple experiment to discover whether this was due to differences in their ability to spot such opportunities. I gave both lucky and unlucky people a newspaper, and asked them to look through it and tell me how many photographs were inside. On average, the unlucky people took about two minutes to count the photographs whereas the lucky people took just seconds. Why? Because the second page of the newspaper contained the message “Stop counting — There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” This message took up half of the page and was written in type that was over two inches high. It was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it. Just for fun, I placed a second large message half way through the newspaper. This one announced: “Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250.” Again, the unlucky people missed the opportunity because they were still too busy looking for photographs. Personality tests revealed that unlucky people are generally much more tense and anxious than lucky people, and research has shown that anxiety disrupts people’s ability to notice the unexpected. In one experiment, people were asked to watch a moving dot in the center of a computer screen. Without warning, large dots would occasionally be flashed at the edges of the screen. Nearly all participants noticed these large dots. The experiment was then repeated with a second group of people, who were offered a large financial reward for accurately watching the center dot. This time, people were far more anxious about the whole situation. They became very focused on the center dot and over a third of them missed the large dots when they appeared on the screen.

The harder they looked, the less they saw. And so it is with luck — unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through newspapers determined to find certain type of job advertisements and as a result miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for.

But this is only part of the story when it comes to chance opportunities. Many of my lucky participants went to considerable lengths to introduce variety and change into their lives. Before making an important decision, one lucky participant would constantly alter his route to work. Another person described a special technique that he had developed to force him to meet different types of people. He had noticed that whenever he went to a party, he tended to talk to the same type of people. To help disrupt this routine, and make life more fun, he thinks of a color before he arrives at the party and then chooses to only speak to people wearing that color of clothing at the party! At some parties he only spoke to women in red, at another he chatted exclusively to men in black.

E Ink Sales Drop

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Now that everyone has a tablet, dedicated e-readers have lost some of their allure. E Ink reports a 46% sales drop with a net loss of $33.6 million.

South Africa gang violence shuts Cape Town schools

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

A surge in gang violence has prompted education officials in South Africa’s Western Cape Province to close 16 schools for two days:

At least 50 people are reported to have been wounded or killed after being shot in areas of Cape Town’s Manenberg suburb in recent weeks.

Provincial Premier Helen Zille has asked the national government to send in the army to help overwhelmed police.

A caretaker at one of the schools died after being shot a number of weeks ago.

An older story describes the situation in Cape Flats:

The Cape Flats, just outside scenic Cape Town, is South Africa’s gang capital, with around 150 gangs and an estimated 100,000 members, according to officials.

The area has known decades of violence and bloodshed at the hands of gangs battling for control of the drugs trade.

Local police say 15 people have been killed in crossfire during recent clashes between the notorious Junky Funky Kids and the Corner Boys gangs in Lavender Hill, in the Cape Flats.

Cape Town police chief Rob Young says gangsters and the drugs they peddle are responsible for about 80% of crime here.

Now, vigilante group People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad), declared a terrorist organisation in 2000 by the local government, says it is once more taking matters into its own hands.


The Muslim-dominated group hit the headlines in 1996 when Rashaad Staggie, co-leader of one of South Africa’s most notorious criminal gangs — the Hard Livings — was shot and then burnt to death by Pagad members.

Pagad’s armed security unit G-Force was then implicated in a 1998 blast at Cape Town’s Planet Hollywood restaurant — popular among tourists.

More than 20 people were injured and one woman was killed but no-one has ever been convicted.

Apartheid’s end has made things worse — according to the BBC:

As South Africa opened up after all-race elections in 1994, the drug trade in particular boomed, providing a cash boost to the gangs that control it.
The reform of apartheid’s brutal policing and legal system has made it easier for gangs to get guns and more difficult for police to act decisively against them.

The BBC reporter lent a recovered addict some video equipment to help with their documentary. He was one of the local street-football program’s success stories:

On his third trip to film for us, Martin disappeared for nine days. He had sold the camera equipment we loaned him and spent the money on an epic drugs binge that led to his arrest.

So, was the journalist that naive, or did he get the dramatic story he wanted for the price of some outdated electronics?