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04-07-2008, 09:16 PM
Londoners could pay $50 a day to drive in city (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23917221/)

LONDON - As New York commuters brace for possible charges for driving into the midtown area, they can at least be thankful they don't live in London, where Mayor Ken Livingstone has staked his re-election hopes on boosting the "congestion tax" to as much as $50 a day.

The New York State Legislature still needs to approve Mayor Michael Bloomberg's pricing plan this month or the city stands to lose $354 million in funding to help kick-start the project.

The proposal involves raising tolls for entering New York via tunnels and bridges as well as charging drivers an $8 fee to drive in the area below 60th Street between during daytime hours on weekdays.

Livingstone, locked in a bruising contest with conservative candidate Boris Johnson, has proposed levying a £25 (about $50) charge on vehicles deemed to be causing the worst pollution, including four-wheel drives such as “Chelsea Tractors,” Land Rovers dubbed as such because of their predominance in London’s ritzy southwestern borough.

The tax would replace the current £8 (around $16) congestion charge, implemented in February 2003 and aimed at combating pollution and overcrowding in central London’s traffic-choked streets.

The new charge is organized into three different price bands. While many drivers will continue to pay the £8 fee for their mid-range emission vehicles, those with cars that produce under 120 g/km of carbon dioxide, like the Volkswagen Polo, will no longer have to pay to drive across the capital city.

Meantime, those with high-end vehicles that produce more than 225 g/km, like almost all Porsches, Land Rovers and Mercedes, will have to pay £25. The new charges would start in October and affect anyone driving into the center between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Residents living within the congestion charge zone would also lose their current 90 percent discount and instead pay the same as those living outside the area.

'A complete rip-off'

Some workers and residents in the wealthy Kensington and Chelsea districts have protested Livingstone’s campaign.

“I don’t see why people who have bigger cars should have to pay more when some old cars produce worse (emissions),” said Philip Thornton, a driver for clients who own large vehicles such as Land Rovers.

“It’s a complete rip-off,” Thornton said, although he noted that considering the wealth of the neighborhoods, “£25 is pushing it, but a lot of people will just pay it.”

For central London workers who rely on their cars for transportation, the charge has added to their long list of woes, which already includes long waits in traffic and problems finding parking.

“I never travel (by car) Monday to Friday because of the charge,” Mario D’Apice, a painter, said.

He agreed that there were too many cars on the road nowadays, but opposes the new charge saying it was, “time to let the government go.”

There is an opportunity for that to happen just prior to the new environmental charge being introduced as Livingstone, the outspoken Labour Party incumbent, is facing tough competition from Johnston.

A poll published Thursday showed him running neck-and-neck with the Conservative challenger, an eccentric and chaotically coifed legislator once a fixture of the nation's television talk-show circuit.

A Guardian/ICM poll showed Johnson with a 1-point lead over Livingstone when voters were asked their first choice in the May 1 election. The lead grows slightly to 2 points when the complex system that allows voters to designate first and second choices is factored in.

Some side with the mayor

Still, some residents back with Livingstone's hefty charges.

Kieran Mcilwham, a student and cyclist, thought the measures would be good for the environment. He also felt that it would help combat congestion, given the traffic is “definitely getting worse.”

Another cyclist, Eamon Daly, was in agreement. “At the end of the day the c-charge is a positive thing if it goes towards transport," Daly said. “As a cyclist I’m for it as it helps with cyclist motorist balance on the road," he said.

While cyclists were obvious proponents of the plan, some drivers from outside London also voiced support for it.

“I think it is good for people with higher emission engines to pay more," said Lucy Noble, whose Mercedes station wagon would be in the high-cost bracket.

“It probably would stop me coming in if I had to pay 25 pounds,” she said, but added that she felt that public transport, her other option, “really wasn’t good enough.”

Diana Ekins, another suburbanite on her way into London, said, “I personally think it's good; I think it is important to try and clear a bit of the congestion.” She continued, “I drive into London a lot. I think it’s a fair charge. I think it's well worth it.”

Businesses in central London also have mixed views on the planned increase.

"If you have something unique people will still travel," said art dealer Karen Yuen. However, she said "we won't know for a few more years" whether or not the environmental targets of the plan are attainable.

04-10-2008, 12:38 AM

VERY INTERESTING - What is this place? FEMA Coffins! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDSNhoUnQrY)

<object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/ZDSNhoUnQrY&hl=en"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/ZDSNhoUnQrY&hl=en" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>

Multi-functional cremation container for a cadaver (http://www.google.com/patents?id=R-kkAAAAEBAJ&dq=5425163)


04-10-2008, 09:28 PM
Met Chief Sir Ian Blair could be among 31,000 officers to receive the new electronic tracking device

Met Police officers to be 'microchipped' by top brass in Big Brother style tracking scheme (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=558597&in_page_id=1770)

Every single Metropolitan police officer will be 'microchipped' so top brass can monitor their movements on a Big Brother style tracking scheme, it can be revealed today.

According to respected industry magazine Police Review, the plan - which affects all 31,000 serving officers in the Met, including Sir Ian Blair - is set to replace the unreliable Airwave radio system currently used to help monitor officer's movements.

The new electronic tracking device - called the Automated Personal Location System (APLS) - means that officers will never be out of range of supervising officers.

But many serving officers fear being turned into "Robocops" - controlled by bosses who have not been out on the beat in years.

According to service providers Telent, the new technology 'will enable operators in the Service's operations centres to identify the location of each police officer' at any time they are on duty - whether overground or underground.

Although police chiefs say the new technology is about 'improving officer safety' and reacting to incidents more quickly, many rank and file believe it is just a Big Brother style system to keep tabs on them and make sure they don't 'doze off on duty'.

Some officers are concerned that the system - which will be able to pinpoint any of the 31,000 officers in the Met to within a few feet of their location - will put a complete end to community policing and leave officers purely at the beck and call of control room staff rather than reacting to members of the public on the ground.

Pete Smyth, chairman of the Met Police Federation, said: "This could be very good for officers' safety but it could also involve an element of Big Brother.

"We need to look at it very carefully."

Other officers, however, were more scathing, saying the new system - set to be implemented within the next few weeks - will turn them into 'Robocops' simply obeying instructions from above rather than using their own judgement.

One officer, working in Peckham, south London, said: "They are keeping the exact workings of the system very hush-hush at the moment - although it will be similar to the way criminals are electronically tagged. There will not be any choice about wearing one.

"We depend on our own ability and local knowledge to react to situations accordingly.

"Obviously we need the back up and information from control, but a lot of us feel that we will simply be used as machines, or robots, to do what we are told with little or no chance to put in anything ourselves."

He added: "Most of us joined up so we could apply the law and think for ourselves, but if Sarge knows where we are every second of the day it just makes it difficult."

Another officer, who did not want to be named, said: "A lot of my time is spent speaking to people in cafes, parks or just wherever I'm approached. If I feel I've got my chief breathing down my neck to make another arrest I won't feel I'm doing my job properly."

The system is one of the largest of its kind in the world, according to Telent, the company behind the technology, although neither the Met nor Telent would provide Police Review with any more information about exactly how the system will work or what sort of devices officers will wear.

Nigel Lee, a workstream manager at the Met, said: "Safety is a primary concern for all police forces.

"The area served by our force covers 620 miles and knowing the location of our officers means that not only can we provision resource more quickly, but should an officer need assistance, we can get to them even more quickly."

Forces currently have the facility to track all their officers through GPS devices on their Airwave radio headsets, but this is subject to headsets being up to date and forces buying the back office systems to accompany them, according to Airwave.

Steve Rands, health and safety head for the Met Police Federation, told Police Review: "This is so that we know where officers are. Let us say that when voice distortion or sound quality over the radio is lost, if you cannot hear where that officer telling you where he is, you can still pinpoint his exact position by global positioning system.

"If he needs help but you cannot hear him for whatever reason, APLS will say where he is."

04-10-2008, 09:50 PM

VERY INTERESTING - What is this place? FEMA Coffins! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDSNhoUnQrY)

<object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/ZDSNhoUnQrY&hl=en"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/ZDSNhoUnQrY&hl=en" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>

Multi-functional cremation container for a cadaver (http://www.google.com/patents?id=R-kkAAAAEBAJ&dq=5425163)


What's particularly creepy about this vid and story is that facility is right here in Georgia in a town called Madison which is approx. an hour outside ATL.:smh::smh::smh::smh::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:

04-12-2008, 03:05 PM
Presdient Bush unfazed by torture being led from White House.

Dubya: Torture, yeah so what? (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=51253&sectionid=3510203)

Following the ABC revelation of a torture advisory group meeting in the White House, ABC has prodded President Bush to respond to its story.

ABC caught up with Bush to respond to its story that top administration officials, as members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, had signed off on "enhanced interrogation" techniques in 2002 that included waterboarding.

The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

"Well, we started to connect the dots, in order to protect the American people." Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. "And, yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.”...

Bush said the ABC report about the principals' involvement was not so "startling."

04-12-2008, 03:07 PM
What's particularly creepy about this vid and story is that facility is right here in Georgia in a town called Madison which is approx. an hour outside ATL.:smh::smh::smh::smh::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:

From what I gather, that large coffin center may not be the only one of its kind. There might be other inexplicable, random coffin sites in parts of the country like this. Interesting.

04-12-2008, 03:13 PM
The World According to Monsanto - A documentary that Americans won't ever see. (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-842180934463681887)

African Herbsman
04-12-2008, 03:17 PM
Once the mass executions start, they have to dispose of the evidence as discretely as possible. Ashes tell no tales, but mass graves do.

African Herbsman
04-12-2008, 03:23 PM


04-12-2008, 04:18 PM
Anti-terror laws used to spy on family (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/antiterror-laws-used-to-spy-on-family-807873.html)

A family who were wrongly suspected of lying on a school application form have discovered that their local council used anti-terrorism surveillance powers to spy on them.

The family, from Poole in Dorset, said they had been tailed for three weeks by council officials trying to establish whether they had given a false address in an attempt to get their three-year-old daughter a place at a heavily oversubscribed local nursery school, which their two older children had attended. The family had in fact done nothing wrong, and the investigation was eventually aborted.

Yesterday it emerged that Poole borough council had legitimately used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to monitor the family. This involved keeping a detailed log of their movements for two weeks, following the mother's car as she took her three children to school each day and even watching the family home to ascertain their sleeping habits.

The Act, passed in 2000, was supposed to allow security agencies to combat terrorism.

The 39-year-old mother, a businesswoman who wished to remain anonymous, said: "I can't imagine a greater invasion of our privacy. I'm incensed that legislation designed to combat terrorism can be turned on a three-year-old. It was very creepy when we found out that people had been watching us and making notes. Councils should be protecting children, not spying on them."

The council defended its right to investigate families in a covert manner, saying it had used the law twice in the past year to successfully prove parents were lying about where they lived.

04-12-2008, 09:29 PM
There are 510 posts in this thread before this one;
how many truly represent "The Beast" ???

There is a prize for the ... right answer.


04-13-2008, 12:08 AM
There are 510 posts in this thread before this one;
how many truly represent "The Beast" ???

Pretty much all of them.

There is a prize for the ... right answer.


No prize needed, no prized wanted. Just more political talk in this thread is all that's needed.

04-13-2008, 12:11 AM
Tranquillisers putting children's lives at risk (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/apr/07/mentalhealth.drugs)

New evidence has shown children's lives are being put at risk by a surge in the use of controversial tranquillising drugs which are being prescribed to control their behaviour, the Guardian has learned.

The anti-psychotic drugs are being given to youngsters under the age of six even though the drugs have no licence for use in children except in certain schizophrenia cases, the report says.

The number of children on the drugs has doubled since the early 1990s as the UK begins to follow a trend started in the US, but critics say they are a "chemical cosh" that could cause premature death.

The first comprehensive analysis, carried out by Ian Wong, professor of paediatric medicines research at the London School of Pharmacy, suggests the number of children on the drugs has surged sharply.

His analysis, to be published next month in the US journal Pediatrics, shows that between 1992 and 2005, 3,000 UK children were given anti-psychotics.

Twice as many prescriptions were given to children for the drugs in 2005 as in 1992, with the biggest increase in the seven to 12 age group, where the number of anti-psychotics prescribed trebled. The largest category of use by far is in cases of behavioural disorders and personality disorders, including bipolar disorder (manic depression), autism and hyperactivity.

Although the drugs are not licensed for children, doctors can prescribe them on their own responsibility.

The increase follows a huge rise in the use of the drugs in children in the US. Yet nobody knows how the drugs affect a growing child's body or what may happen in the long term. The increase has come at a time when former psychiatric best-sellers Prozac and its class of anti-depressants have gone out of patent. Wong says children on anti-psychotic medication are more likely to die earlier - something which may not be caused by the drug but which gives cause for concern. "The mortality rate is much higher. It could be some underlying problem of the brain. It doesn't show the drug is causing any deaths, but there is this inequality."

Some of the children of whose deaths he is aware had underlying incurable conditions such as Aids, so it is hard to establish whether the drugs played any part.

David Healy, professor of psychological medicine at Cardiff University, says the drugs may cause heart, circulation and breathing problems. "There is a real question over whether the drugs can kill for a number of reasons. One is that all anti-psychotics act on [the brain chemical] dopamine." He said dopamine was known to have a role in cardiovascular regulation. A number of children in the US, given stimulants - which also act on the dopamine system - after being diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), have suddenly died, said Healy. He was asked by lawyers in the US to give an opinion on a child who was diagnosed when she was a baby first with ADHD, then depression and finally bipolar disorder (manic depression). "Having spent 75% of her life on one of these drugs, she dropped dead at the age of two," he said.

The drugs have potentially serious and harmful side-effects which need to be balanced against any benefit for the child or its parents. These include substantial weight gain and tardive dyskinesia (uncontrollable tongue and facial movements).

The drug watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority, is concerned about the use of such drugs without evidence to prove they are safe in children, but unless the manufacturers conduct trials, its hands are tied.

04-13-2008, 12:22 AM
Nanotech Exposed in Grocery Store Aisles (http://action.foe.org/pressRelease.jsp?press_release_KEY=343)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Untested nanotechnology is being used in more than 100 food products, food packaging and contact materials currently on the shelf, without warning or new FDA testing, according to a report released today by Friends of the Earth.

The report, Out of the Laboratory and onto Our Plates: Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture, found nanomaterials in popular products and packaging including Miller Light beer, Cadbury Chocolate packaging and ToddlerHealth, a nutritional drink powder for infants sold extensively at health food stores including WholeFoods.

“Nanotech food was put on our plates without FDA testing for consumer safety,” said Ian Illuminato, Friends of the Earth Health and Environment Campaigner. “Consumers have a right to know if they are taste-testing a dangerous new technology.”

Existing regulations require no new testing or labeling for nanomaterials when they are created from existing approved chemicals, despite major differences in potential toxicity. The report reveals toxicity risks of nanomaterials such as organ damage and decreased immune system response.

“Nanotechnology can be very dangerous when used in food,” said report co-author Dr Rye Senjen. “Early scientific evidence indicates that some nanomaterials produce free radicals which destroy or mutate DNA and can cause damage to the liver and kidneys.”

Report co-author Georgia Miller, Friends of the Earth Australia Nanotechnology Project Coordinator, said many of the world’s largest food companies, including Heinz, Nestle, Unilever and Kraft are currently using and testing nanotechnology for food processing and packaging. Without increased federal oversight, these companies could begin sale of these products whenever they choose.

“There is no legal requirement for manufacturers to label their products that contain nanomaterials, or to conduct new safety tests,” said Miller. “This gives manufacturers the ability to force-feed untested technology to consumers without their consent.”

Nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter at the scale of atoms and molecules, is now used to manufacture nutritional supplements, flavor and colors additives, food packaging, cling wrap and containers, and chemicals used in agriculture.

“Friends of the Earth calls on the FDA to stop the sale of all nano food, packaging, and agricultural chemicals until strong scientific regulations are enacted to ensure consumer safety and until ingredients are labeled,” said Illuminato.

The report, released internationally today in the U.S., Europe and Australia details more than a hundred nano food, food packaging and food contact products now on sale internationally. The Australian government has already welcomed the report and announced that it will begin exploring regulation of nano food and nano agriculture as a result of the report. The full report can be found at www.foe.org.

04-13-2008, 04:44 PM
The Government Is Trying to Wrap Its Mind Around Yours (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/11/AR2008041103296.html?hpid=opinionsbox1)

Imagine a world of streets lined with video cameras that alert authorities to any suspicious activity. A world where police officers can read the minds of potential criminals and arrest them before they commit any crimes. A world in which a suspect who lies under questioning gets nabbed immediately because his brain has given him away.

Though that may sound a lot like the plot of the 2002 movie "Minority Report," starring Tom Cruise and based on a Philip K. Dick novel, I'm not talking about science fiction here; it turns out we're not so far away from that world. But does it sound like a very safe place, or a very scary one?

It's a question I think we should be asking as the federal government invests millions of dollars in emerging technology aimed at detecting and decoding brain activity. And though government funding focuses on military uses for these new gizmos, they can and do end up in the hands of civilian law enforcement and in commercial applications. As spending continues and neurotechnology advances, that imagined world is no longer the stuff of science fiction or futuristic movies, and we postpone at our peril confronting the ethical and legal dilemmas it poses for a society that values not just personal safety but civil liberty as well.

Consider Cernium Corp.'s "Perceptrak" video surveillance and monitoring system, recently installed by Johns Hopkins University, among others. This technology grew out of a project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency -- the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense -- to develop intelligent video analytics systems. Unlike simple video cameras monitored by security guards, Perceptrak integrates video cameras with an intelligent computer video. It uses algorithms to analyze streaming video and detect suspicious activities, such as people loitering in a secure area, a group converging or someone leaving a package unattended. Since installing Perceptrak, Johns Hopkins has reported a 25 percent reduction in crime.

But that's only the beginning. Police may soon be able to monitor suspicious brain activity from a distance as well. New neurotechnology soon may be able to detect a person who is particularly nervous, in possession of guilty knowledge or, in the more distant future, to detect a person thinking, "Only one hour until the bomb explodes." Today, the science of detecting and decoding brain activity is in its infancy. But various government agencies are funding the development of technology to detect brain activity remotely and are hoping to eventually decode what someone is thinking. Scientists, however, wildly disagree about the accuracy of brain imaging technology, what brain activity may mean and especially whether brain activity can be detected from afar.

Yet as the experts argue about the scientific limitations of remote brain detection, this chilling science fiction may already be a reality. In 2002, the Electronic Privacy Information Center reported that NASA was developing brain monitoring devices for airports and was seeking to use noninvasive sensors in passenger gates to collect the electronic signals emitted by passengers' brains. Scientists scoffed at the reports, arguing that to do what NASA was proposing required that an electroencephalogram (EEG) be physically attached to the scalp.

But that same year, scientists at the University of Sussex in England adapted the same technology they had been using to detect heart rates at distances of up to 1 meter, or a little more than three feet, to remotely detect changes in the brain. And while scientific limitations to remote EEG detection still exist, clearly the question is when, not if, these issues will be resolved.

Meanwhile, another remote brain-activity detector, which uses light beamed through the skull to measure changes in oxygen levels in the brain, may be on the way. Together with the EEG, it would enhance the power of brain scanning. Today the technology consists of a headband sensor worn by the subject, a control box to capture the data and a computer to analyze it. With the help of government funding, however, that is all becoming increasingly compact and portable, paving the way for more specific remote detection of brain activity.

But don't panic: The government can't read our minds -- yet. So far, these tools simply measure changes in the brain; they don't detect thoughts and intentions.

Scientists, though, are hard at work trying to decode how those signals relate to mental states such as perception and intention. Different EEG frequencies, for example, have been associated with fear, anger, joy and sorrow and different cognitive states such as a person's level of alertness. So when you're stopped for speeding and terrified because you're carrying illegal drugs in the trunk of your car, EEG technology might enable the police to detect your fear or increased alertness. This is not so far-fetched: Some scientists already are able to tell from brain images in the lab whether a test subject was envisioning a tool such as a hammer or a screwdriver or a dwelling, and to predict whether the subject intended to add or subtract numbers. Just last month, scientists announced a new study aimed at decoding visual imagery in the brain.

Although brain-based lie-detection technology has been quite controversial and has only been tested on a limited basis, early researchers have claimed high accuracy at detecting deception. But there's a problem: Most brain-based lie-detection tests assume that lying should result in more brain activity than truth-telling because lying involves more cognition. So these lie-detection methods may fail in sociopaths or in individuals who believe in the falsehood they're telling.

Whether such technology will be effective outside the laboratory remains to be seen, but the very fact that the government is banking on its future potential raises myriad questions.

Imagine, for example, a police officer approaching a suspect based on Perceptrak's "unusual activity" detection. Equipped with remote neural-detection technology, the officer asks her a few questions, and the detection device deems her responses to be deceptive. Will this be enough evidence for an arrest? Can it be used to convict a person of intent to commit a crime? Significant scientific hurdles remain before neurotechnology can be used that way, but given how fast it's developing, I think we must pause now to ask how it may affect the fundamental precepts of our criminal justice system.

Americans have been willing to tolerate significant new security measures and greater encroachments on civil liberties after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Could reports of significant crime reduction such as that seen by Johns Hopkins, or incidents such as the student shootings last year at Virginia Tech or more recently at Northern Illinois University, be enough to justify the use of pre-crime technology? Could remote neural monitoring together with intelligent video analytics have prevented those tragedies? And if they could, should they be allowed to?

These are just some of the questions we must ask as we balance scientific advances and the promise of enhanced safety against a loss of liberty. And we must do it now, while our voices still matter. In a world where private thoughts are no longer private, what will our protections be?

04-16-2008, 09:22 PM
Indigenous kids 'medical guinea pigs' (http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23543382-17001,00.html)

SOME Aboriginal children who were taken from their parents and put into institutions were used as medical guinea pigs, a senate inquiry has been told.

Greens Senator Bob Brown said he was "shocked and alarmed" by the allegations, heard today by the senate legal and constitutional committee's inquiry into a Stolen Generation Compensation Bill 2008.

On the first day of hearings in Darwin today, Kathleen Mills from the Stolen Generations Alliance said the public did not know the full extent of what happened to some children.

And efforts to obtain records that support the claims, such as that children were injected with serums to gauge their reaction to the medication, had been hampered, she said.

"These are the things that have not been spoken about," Ms Mills told the inquiry.

"As well as being taken away, they were used ... there are a lot of things that Australia does not know about."

Outside the inquiry, Ms Mills said her uncle had been a medical orderly at the Kahlin Compound in Darwin.

She said he told her that children were used as "guinea pigs" for leprosy treatments.

"He said it made our people very, very ill ... the treatment almost killed them," she said.
"It was a common experience and a common practice ... People are very inhibited to speak about their experience and it is not a nice subject ... I don't want them to be shamed."

Senator Brown said it was important to get to the bottom of the claims, which he called "very, very serious".

"It may be right, it may not," he said.

"It needs investigation. If within the indigenous community there is a feeling that children may have been experimented upon for a treatment for leprosy or anything else, the air needs to be cleared."

Ms Mills said information to do with the testing would be in health department archives and she called on the Government to assist "opening Pandora's box".

She also said it was important to work with indigenous groups to ascertain who is eligible for compensation.

"It has to happen ... but there's this reluctance to do it," she said.

"We don't have the necessary information ... it's probably tucked away in some archive but we don't have the resources to research, we don't have the people who are qualified."

The compensation Bill aims to pay money to victims of the stolen generations, including living descendants, out of a Stolen Generations Fund.

Ex gratia payments would be set at $20,000 as a common experience payment with an additional $3,000 for each year of institutionalisation.

Rodney Dillon, from the National Sorry Day Committee, said that while the Government debated action, Aboriginal elders entitled to compensation were dying.

"We are going to lose a lot of people between now and the next time this Bill is put on the table," he said.

04-17-2008, 12:22 PM

Feds to collect DNA from every person they arrest (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080416/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/dna_collection)

WASHINGTON - The government plans to begin collecting DNA samples from anyone arrested by a federal law enforcement agency — a move intended to prevent violent crime but which also is raising concerns about the privacy of innocent people.

Using authority granted by Congress, the government also plans to collect DNA samples from foreigners who are detained, whether they have been charged or not. The DNA would be collected through a cheek swab, Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin said Wednesday. That would be a departure from current practice, which limits DNA collection to convicted felons.

Expanding the DNA database, known as CODIS, raises civil liberties questions about the potential for misuse of such personal information, such as family ties and genetic conditions.

Ablin said the DNA collection would be subject to the same privacy laws applied to current DNA sampling. That means none of it would be used for identifying genetic traits, diseases or disorders.

Congress gave the Justice Department the authority to expand DNA collection in two different laws passed in 2005 and 2006.

There are dozens of federal law enforcement agencies, ranging from the FBI to the Library of Congress Police. The federal government estimates it makes about 140,000 arrests each year.

Justice officials estimate the new collecting requirements would add DNA from an additional 1.2 million people to the database each year.

Those who support the expanded collection believe that DNA sampling could get violent criminals off the streets and prevent them from committing more crimes.

A Chicago study in 2005 found that 53 murders and rapes could have been prevented if a DNA sample had been collected upon arrest.

"Many innocent lives could have been saved had the government began this kind of DNA sampling in the 1990s when the technology to do so first became available," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said. Kyl sponsored the 2005 law that gave the Justice Department this authority.

Thirteen states have similar laws: Alaska, Arizona, California, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

The new regulation would mean that the federal government could store DNA samples of people who are not guilty of any crime, said Jesselyn McCurdy, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Now innocent people's DNA will be put into this huge CODIS database, and it will be very difficult for them to get it out if they are not charged or convicted of a crime," McCurdy said.

If a person is arrested but not convicted, he or she can ask the Justice Department to destroy the sample.

The Homeland Security Department — the federal agency charged with policing immigration — supports the new rule.

"DNA is a proven law-enforcement tool," DHS spokesman Russ Knocke said.

The rule would not allow for DNA samples to be collected from immigrants who are legally in the United States or those being processed for admission, unless the person was arrested.

The proposed rule is being published in the Federal Register. That will be followed by a 30-day comment period.

04-18-2008, 07:47 PM
Nato admits mistakenly supplying arms and food to Taliban (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/18/nato.afghanistan?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews)

Nato forces mistakenly supplied food, water and arms to Taliban forces in southern Afghanistan, officials today admitted.

Containers destined for local police forces were dropped from a helicopter into a Taliban-controlled area of Zabul province.

The coalition helicopter had intended to deliver pallets of supplies to a police checkpoint in Ghazni, a remote section of Zabul late last month.

By mistake they were dropped some distance from the checkpoint where it was taken by the Taliban, the Internal Security Affairs Commission of the Wolesi Jirga — the Afghan parliament's lower house — was told.

Hamidullah Tukhi, a local politician from Zabul, told the parliamentary commission that the consignment had been taken by a local Taliban commander.

A Nato spokesman said the pallets were carrying rocket propelled grenades, ammunition, water and food.

Afghan politicians have said they do not believe the drop was an accident.

Nato's General Carlos Branco blamed it on "human error" when the navigator confused two very similar grid references.

A spokesman at Nato headquarters in Brussels denied the suggestion the alliance had deliberately armed the Taliban. "We are aware of it but we are not fired up about it. It sounds like someone made a mistake. It was a cock-up rather than a conspiracy.

"The forces on the ground are working to get the message across that we do not deliberately supply the Taliban with arms."

04-21-2008, 11:15 AM
Bump. This should be a sticky on the main board.

04-22-2008, 10:52 AM

Gitmo detainees 'drugged to confess' (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=52657&sectionid=3510203)

Detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp say they were subjected to unknown drugs experimentations intended to coerce confessions.

Adel al-Nusairi, a former Saudi policeman captured by US forces in Afghanistan in 2002, describes his confessions after the shot as 'made-up' adding that he was unable to learn what drugs were injected before interrogations.

"I was completely gone," said Nusairi, now free in Saudi Arabia. "I said, 'Let me go. I want to go to sleep. If it takes saying I'm a member of al-Qaeda, I will'."

According to court documents, at least two dozen other former and current detainees at Guantanamo maintain they were given drugs or witnessed other inmates being drugged.

The Defense Department and the CIA, responsible for detaining terrorism suspects, however, denied using drugs as an enhancement for interrogations, and described such claims as either 'fabrications' or 'mistaken interpretations of routine medical treatment'.

This is while a memo by the then-Justice Department explicitly condoned the use of 'mind-altering substances' on prisoners as long as they did not inflict "profound" psychological damage.

04-22-2008, 10:43 PM
Nanotech Exposed in Grocery Store Aisles (http://action.foe.org/pressRelease.jsp?press_release_KEY=343)

Man thank for this story, this confirms my theory on how they are going to chip people. Fuck implanting folks, they are going put the shit in your food, water, and in the air.

04-24-2008, 08:08 PM
Man thank for this story, this confirms my theory on how they are going to chip people. Fuck implanting folks, they are going put the shit in your food, water, and in the air.

It's possible they could do all those things in conjunction with chipping people too. But you're right.

04-24-2008, 08:11 PM
Machine Gun-Toting Officers To Patrol NYC Subway (http://wcbstv.com/local/machine.guns.subway.2.707398.html)

NEW YORK (CBS) ― More protection against terrorists is coming to a subway station near you. Starting Thursday, special bomb teams, known as "Torch Teams," will be toting submachine guns and bringing bomb-sniffing dogs onto the platforms and into the trains. CBS 2 HD was out first thing Thursday morning on the lookout for these significant security measure improvements.

It's a first for mass transit in the United States. NYPD officers, armed with rifles, submachine guns, body armor and bomb-sniffing dogs will begin patrolling the city's subway system thanks to a 50 percent increase in a homeland security grant.

The city's massive subway system has long been considered a potential terror target. Six officers and a dog will constitute a team, patrolling all platforms and trains in 12-hour shifts. The "Torch Teams" will be toting MP5 submachine guns and M4 Carbine rifles that are used by Navy seals and FBI hostage-rescue teams. The teams are being paid for by $151 million from the Feds.

Similarly equipped NYPD units, known as "Hercules Teams," have patrolled Wall Street, the Empire State Building and other aboveground city landmarks for years as a response to the World Trade Center attacks.

A police official likened the "Torch Teams" to "Hercules Teams" with MetroCards. In this age of heightened security, commuters and keen canines will share the underground world of mass transit.

"It's a very good idea. It's like a deterrent. It's going to make me feel safer, much safer, yes it will. It's a good idea," said commuter Patricia Knight Williams.

04-25-2008, 02:36 PM
Identity check: Officials of the scheme say it will transform airport security and help ease congestion. But critics claim it is a 'laughable, unproven' technology.

Face scans for air passengers will start in the UK this summer (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=561866&in_page_id=1770)

Airline passengers are to undergo facial scans at a British airport for the first time.
In a trial set for this summer, hi-tech gates will scan travellers' faces and compare the image with their biometric passport.

Border security officials behind the scheme claim it will transform passengers' experience of airport security and help ease congestion.

They are convinced that the scanners are more reliable and better at preventing ID fraud than humans checking paperwork.

But critics have attacked the plan, which they claim is based on 'laughable, unproven technology' that could cause innocent passengers even further delays.

There is also concern that travellers may react badly to being rejected at an automated gate.

The plan will initially only apply to British and EU citizins carrying new biometric passports.

While it is not yet known how many airports will take part, if the pilot scheme is a success the technology will be rolled out nationwide.

One potential problem is that the technology will err on the side of caution of 'false negatives' - innocent passengers who are not cleared because the machines cannot recognise them.

They may, instead, be sent to another queue or staff may be authorised to override the gates.

Details of the scheme emerged earlier this week at a London conference attended by international biometrics experts, border control civil servants, and the police.

During one session, Gary Murphy, head of operational design and development for the UK Border Agency, said: "We think a machine can do a better job [than manned passport inspections]. What will the public reaction be? Will they use it? We need to test and see how people react and how they deal with rejection.'

He claimed that in previous trials of iris recognition, the failure rate was around 3 to 5 per cent, although some were passengers who were not enrolled but jumped into the queue.

But Gus Hosein, a specialist at the London School of Economics in the interplay between technology and society, said: 'It's a laughable technology. U.S. police at the SuperBowl had to turn it off within three days because it was throwing up so many false positives.

'The computer couldn't even recognise gender. It's not that it could wrongly match someone as a terrorist, but that it won't match them with their image. A human can make assumptions, a computer can't.'

Phil Booth, of the No2Id Campaign, said: 'Someone is extremely optimistic. The technology is just not there.

'The last time I spoke to anyone in the facial recognition field they said the best systems were only operating at about a 40 per cent success rate in a real time situation.

'I am flabbergasted they consider doing this at a time when there are so many measures making it difficult for passengers.'

Home Office Minister Liam Byrne said: 'Britain's border security is now among the toughest in the world and tougher checks do take time, but we don't want long waits.

'So the UK Borders Agency will soon be testing new automatic gates for British and European Economic Area citizins.

'We will test them this year and, if they work, put them at all key ports and airports.'

Between eight million and ten million biometric passports have been issued since their introduction in 2006. Non-biometric passports will not be valid after 2016.

Trials of iris recognition technology at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester were temporarily shelved in November.

If iris scans are ditched from the Government's controversial £5.4billion ID cards project, it could mean only two biometrics would be used to confirm a person's identity - a facial scan and fingerprints.

Last month, fingerprint scanning at Heathrow's Terminal 5 were postponed before it started amid concern from the Information Commissioner's Office about what would happen to the data.

04-26-2008, 06:15 PM
Britons to have prints taken in US airports (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/04/26/nprints126.xml)

More than four million British tourists face being fingerprinted when they leave the United States, under plans drawn up by the American government.

The Department of Homeland Security wants to tighten checks on foreigners going in and out of the country.

It has asked airlines to carry out the exit fingerprint checks on its behalf, prompting fears of lengthy delays at American airports for Britons.

"If you add anything to the process at an airport, you will end up with more people spending more time hanging about in queues," said a spokesman for the industry's trade body, the International Air Transport Association.

"We are now being asked to be immigration officers.

"If the US government thinks it is so important to fingerprint people on leaving the country, they should have the immigration officers to do it."

04-27-2008, 12:23 PM
:lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol: :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:
All this strange shit, bad shit, shit the government does not want "YOU" to see:eek:!
How long is this thread?
The Government is too lazy too come get this shit off of BGOL?

04-27-2008, 12:25 PM
:lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol: :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:
All this strange shit bad shit shit the government does not want us to see!
How long is this thread?
The Government is too lazy too come get this shit off of BGOL?

04-28-2008, 10:30 PM
HPV Bomb: HPV Virus Does NOT Cause Cancer, HPV Vaccine Does (http://youtube.com/watch?v=Je7CLxByApE&feature=related)

<object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Je7CLxByApE&hl=en"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Je7CLxByApE&hl=en

04-29-2008, 10:45 AM
Massachusetts Police Get Black Uniforms to Instill Sense of 'Fear' (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,352471,00.html)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Springfield's men in black are returning.

The city's new police commissioner, William Fitchet, says members of the department's Street Crime Unit will again don black, military-style uniforms as part of his strategy to deal with youth violence.

Fitchet's predecessor, Edward Flynn, had ditched the black attire as part of an effort to soften the image of the unit. Flynn left Springfield in January to become the police chief in Milwaukee.

Sgt. John Delaney told a city council hearing Wednesday that the stark uniforms send a message to criminals that officers are serious about making arrests.

Delaney said a sense of "fear" has been missing for the past few years.

04-30-2008, 12:00 PM
Gary Hart warns of a new False Flag (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQeNCireJPo&e)

<object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/RQeNCireJPo&hl=en"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/RQeNCireJPo&hl=en"

05-01-2008, 07:13 PM
CIA Director Michael Hayden

CIA 'preparing public for Iran war' (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=53925&sectionid=351020101)

The CIA accuses Iran of 'facilitating the killing' of US troops in Iraq in what is seen as another attempt to prepare the public for war.

In a Wednesday lecture at the Kansas State University, CIA Director Michael Hayden claimed that slaying US military forces has become the political strategy of Iran's highest governmental officials.

"It is my opinion, it is the policy of the Iranian government, approved to highest level of that government, to facilitate the killing of Americans in Iraq," maintained Hayden, just a day after the US steamed a second American aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf.

"Just make sure there's clarity on that," the CIA director continued.

His comments come at a time when a recent CBS report indicates that the US Defense Department had ordered military commanders to develop new war plans against Tehran, a claim echoed by top American analysts.

"I believe George Bush and Dick Cheney plan to take care of Iran before they leave office," former CIA analyst Ray McGovern said in an interview published in the Charleston Gazette on Wednesday.

"There's no doubt in my mind that the United States is planning right now, as we speak, a military strike against Iran. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and almost every senior US military official has pretty much acknowledged the same," former UN weapons inspector and now anti-war commentator Scott Ritter had told Democracy Now on Monday.

The US steamed its second aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf on Tuesday in what Washington has termed a 'reminder' of US power.

Senior US officials have been accusing the Iranian government of helping the spread of violence in Iraq without providing any concrete proof.

Pundits, however, say recent 'Washington hype' is a reminder of US preparations made prior to the Iraq war and signal efforts to prepare the public for a war on Tehran while shifting the blame of US failures in Iraq onto others.

05-02-2008, 03:17 AM
U.S. has Mandela on terrorist list (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-04-30-watchlist_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip)

WASHINGTON — Nobel Peace Prize winner and international symbol of freedom Nelson Mandela is flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists and needs special permission to visit the USA. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls the situation "embarrassing," and some members of Congress vow to fix it.
The requirement applies to former South African leader Mandela and other members of South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC), the once-banned anti-Apartheid organization. In the 1970s and '80s, the ANC was officially designated a terrorist group by the country's ruling white minority. Other countries, including the United States, followed suit.

Because of this, Rice told a Senate committee recently, her department has to issue waivers for ANC members to travel to the USA.

"This is a country with which we now have excellent relations, South Africa, but it's frankly a rather embarrassing matter that I still have to waive in my own counterpart, the foreign minister of South Africa, not to mention the great leader Nelson Mandela," Rice said.

Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., chairman of the House International Relations Committee, is pushing a bill that would remove current and former ANC leaders from the watch lists. Supporters hope to get it passed before Mandela's 90th birthday July 18.

"What an indignity," Berman said. "The ANC set an important example: It successfully made the change from armed struggle to peace. We should celebrate the transformation."

In 1990, Mandela was freed after 27 years in prison for crimes committed during the struggle against Apartheid, a repressive regime that subjugated black South Africans. In 1994, he was elected South Africa's first black president.

Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., called ANC members' inclusion on watch lists a "bureaucratic snafu" and pledged to fix the problem.

Members of other groups deemed a terrorist threat, such as Hamas, also are on the watch lists.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says "common sense" suggests Mandela should be removed. He says the issue "raises a troubling and difficult debate about what groups are considered terrorists and which are not."

When ANC members apply for visas to the USA, they are flagged for questioning and need a waiver to be allowed in the country. In 2002, former ANC chairman Tokyo Sexwale was denied a visa. In 2007, Barbara Masekela, South Africa's ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2006, was denied a visa to visit her ailing cousin and didn't get a waiver until after the cousin had died, Berman's legislation says.

05-06-2008, 12:05 PM
www.rivermarketart.com/monsanto.mp4 (RIGHT CLICK --> Save As)

Already posted in this thread from Google Video, many attempts to re-up this film was met with instant deletion. For whatever reason, Google/Youtube isn't keen to allowing this video to remain on their sites long. So get the video again now (or if you've already seen it, just get a copy on your desktop) while you can.

05-07-2008, 04:00 PM
Doctors say there has been a rapid rise in infant health conditions

Afghan 'health link' to uranium' (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7373946.stm)

Doctors in Afghanistan say rates of some health problems affecting children have doubled in the last two years.

Some scientists say the rise is linked to use of weapons containing depleted uranium (DU) by the US-led coalition that invaded the country in 2001.

A Canadian research group found very high levels of uranium in Afghans during tests just after the invasion.

A US forces spokesman denied its weapons were affecting the health of Afghans or the country's environment.

But claims made in the BBC World Service One Planet programme suggest the invasion may have left an unwelcome legacy for the country's environment and the health of its people.

Doctors in Kabul and Kandahar showed data indicating that the incidence of a number of health conditions, including birth defects, has doubled in under two years.

"We have premature births and malformations," said one doctor, who wished to remain anonymous, in one of the main maternity and neo-natal hospitals in the country.

"Malformations include neural tube defects and malformation of limbs; for example, the head is smaller than normal, or the head is larger than normal, or there is a big mass on the back of the baby.

"We don't know what is the cause of these malformations."

Heavy metal

The Canada-based Uranium Medical Research Centre (UMRC) believes the cause might be depleted uranium.

In 2002 and 2003 the group ran programmes analysing urine from Afghans.

In some, it found levels of uranium hundreds of times greater than in Gulf War veterans.

Asaf Durakovic, URMC's president and a former US army adviser, believes that exposure to DU weapons may have brought a rise in birth defects as well as "symptoms of muscular-skeletal pains, immune system disorders, lung disease, and eventually cancer".

Depleted uranium and natural uranium contain different ratios of two isotopes of the metal.

So scientists can tell whether a person has been exposed to the natural form, or to DU.

DU is used in armour-piercing shells because its density means it can penetrate further than other metals.

Dr Durakovic said his research showed that in Afghanistan, coalition forces had also used DU in "bunker buster" bombs, which can penetrate tens of metres into the soil.

"In Afghanistan it has to be... a weapon that destroys not only bunkers or caves, but also penetrates through the soil and through the fragile environment of the mountains."

Strange fruit

Villagers near the Tora Bora mountains, scene of a massive coalition attack in 2001 aimed at forcing Osama bin Laden out of a cave complex where he was believed to be hiding, suspect the bombs brought an increase in diseases and other problems.

"There was a strange smell, and most of the trees here did not yield fruit," recounted Yusuf Khan.

Another villager, Bakhtawar, said: "There were three or four babies born in our area whose arms and legs and faces were not normal; they were malformed."

But Faizullah Kakar, Afghanistan's deputy health minister, countered: "Health defects are common in Afghanistan.

"We want to find out if it is nutritional deficiency or environmental contamination with certain radiation that is doing it."

Disputed claims

The US military rejects claims that it used DU-containing bunker busters in Afghanistan.

It also denies allegations that the weapons it used in Afghanistan are affecting health and the environment.

"We don't use depleted uranium in Afghanistan; we don't have a requirement to use that," said Major Chris Belcher, spokesman for the coalition forces.

But he said such weapons might have been used in the past.

"I don't have any knowledge of what might have been used in 2001 and 2002. If there was an armour threat, the DU rounds would have been used to counter that threat."

Dr C Ross Anthony from the Rand Corporation, the US think-tank, suggested use of DU ordnance would have been light in Afghanistan.

"With very few of them (DU weapons) being used, it is hard for me to imagine that much of a real environmental problem exists," he said.

What next?

Some scientific experts suggested performing further research into the alleged damage caused by weapons used in the country.

But officials in Afghanistan's newly established National Environmental Protection Agency said they did not have the necessary equipment or expertise to investigate properly.

And Chris Alexander from the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) acknowledged it was a concern, but said: "We have no idea what the scale is, nor do we have special knowledge about environmental implications."

Asaf Durakovic would prefer that concrete measures be taken now.

"The best thing is to relocate the population; people have to be moved from the areas that have been highly contaminated to safe areas to provide medical testing and medical care."

Following the use of DU weapons in Iraq and the Balkans, the World Health Organization (WHO) researched the impact on health and the environment.

It concluded, as did a 2001 European Union enquiry into the Balkans conflict, that DU posed little threat.

A senior WHO official told One Planet it had not received any request from Afghan authorities to investigate the current situation.

05-09-2008, 12:30 PM

U.S. deploys more than 43,000 unfit for combat (http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2008-05-07-nondeploy_N.htm)

WASHINGTON — More than 43,000 U.S. troops listed as medically unfit for combat in the weeks before their scheduled deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2003 were sent anyway, Pentagon records show.

This reliance on troops found medically "non-deployable" is another sign of stress placed on a military that has sent 1.6 million servicemembers to the war zones, soldier advocacy groups say.

"It is a consequence of the consistent churning of our troops," said Bobby Muller, president of Veterans For America. "They are repeatedly exposed to high-intensity combat with insufficient time at home to rest and heal before redeploying."

The numbers of non-deployable soldiers are based on health assessment forms filled out by medical personnel at each military installation before a servicemember's deployment.

According to those statistics, the number of troops that doctors found non-deployable, but who were still sent to Iraq or Afghanistan fluctuated from 10,854 in 2003, down to 5,397 in 2005, and back up to 9,140 in 2007.

The Pentagon records do not list what — or how serious — the health issues are, nor whether they were corrected before deployment, said Michael Kilpatrick, a deputy director for the Pentagon's Force Health Protection and Readiness Programs.

A Pentagon staffer examined 10,000 individual health records last year to determine causes for the non-deployable ratings, Kilpatrick said. Some reasons included a need for eyeglasses, dental work or allergy medicine and a small number of mental health cases, he said.

This is the first war in which this health screening process has been used, the Pentagon said.

Most of the non-deployable servicemembers are in the Army, which is doing most of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Between 5% and 7% of all active-duty, National Guard and Reserve soldiers slated for combat were found medically unfit due to health problems each year since 2003, according to statistics provided to USA TODAY.

Unit commanders make the final decision about whether a servicemember is sent into combat, although doctors can recommend against deployment because of a medical issue, Army spokeswoman Kim Waldron said.

"The commander consults with health care professionals to determine whether the treatment a soldier needs is available in theater," said Army Col. Steven Braverman of the Army Medical Command.

At Fort Carson, Colo., Maj. Gen. Mark Graham ordered an investigation into deployment procedures for a brigade deployed to Iraq late last year. At least 36 soldiers were found medically unfit but were still deployed, Graham told USA TODAY.

For at least seven soldiers, treatment in the war zone was inadequate and the soldiers were sent home, he said, and at least two of them should never have been deployed.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, the panel's chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked Army leaders about an e-mail from the surgeon for the Fort Carson brigade that said medically "borderline" soldiers went to war because "we have been having issues reaching deployable strength."

"That should not be happening," Army Secretary Pete Geren told the committee. "I can't tell you that it's not, but it certainly should not be happening."

Meanwhile, soldiers with medical problems have also deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan from Fort Drum in New York and Fort Stewart and Fort Benning, both in Georgia, according to Brenda Farrell, who is leading an investigation into the practice for the Government Accountability Office.

A report from that investigation sought by members of the House Armed Services Committee is due in June.

05-11-2008, 05:56 PM
A big problem is the Army's lack of manpower, which makes its current operations in Afghanistan and Iraq hard to sustain

Exclusive report: Soldiers need loans to eat, report reveals (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/exclusive-report-soldiers-need-loans-to-eat-report-reveals-825928.html)

A highly sensitive internal report into the state of the British Army has revealed that many soldiers are living in poverty. Some are so poor that they are unable to eat and are forced to rely on emergency food voucher schemes set up by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Some of Britain's most senior military figures reacted angrily yesterday to the revelations in the report, criticising the Government's treatment of its fighting forces.

The disturbing findings outlined in the briefing team report written for Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, include an admission that many junior officers are being forced to leave the Army because they simply cannot afford to stay on.

Pressure from an undermanned army is "having a serious impact on retention in infantry battalions", with nearly half of all soldiers unable to take all their annual leave as they try to cover the gaps.

The analysis, described by General Dannatt as "a comprehensive and accurate portrayal of the views and concerns of the Army at large", states: "More and more single-income soldiers in the UK are now close to the UK government definition of poverty." It reveals that "a number of soldiers were not eating properly because they had run out of money by the end of the month". Commanders are attempting to tackle the problem through "Hungry Soldier" schemes, under which destitute soldiers are given loans to enable them to eat.

The scheme symbolises a change from the tradition of soldiers getting three square meals a day for free. Now hard-up soldiers have to fill out a form which entitles them to a voucher. The cost is deducted from their future wages, adding to the problems of soldiers on low pay.

The controversial Pay as You Dine (PAYD) regime, which requires soldiers not on active duty to pay for their meals, has seen commanding officers inundated with complaints from soldiers unhappy at the quality of food that they get and the amount of paperwork involved.

Senior officers warn in the report that "there is a duty of care issue" and add that the "core meal" provided to soldiers on duty "is often not the healthy option". The confusion of which soldiers even qualify for free meals while on duty is revealed in the admission that "in some areas the soldier has to pay and then claim back and in others the duty meal is included in the contract".

General Dannatt has vowed to take action. He said, "I am determined that PAYD must be made to work to both the financial and physical well-being of those who are fed."

Despite numerous assurances by the Government to look after wounded soldiers, the report warns of deep resentment over a cap on the amount of compensation that wounded soldiers receive. It outlines the "deep frustration" at the inadequate amount being spent on accommodation.

The level of accidental deaths also comes under fire. "Ten potentially avoidable accident fatalities in operational theatres in one year [2007] is not acceptable," said General Dannatt.

He added: "I am concerned at the comments from the chain of command, some elements of which clearly believe that they will lose influence over their soldiers and that this will impact on unit cohesion." He also described improvements to equipment as being of "little use" because there is not enough for soldiers to be trained in using it until they are deployed.

Army chiefs and politicians claimed the document proved the Government was failing to meet its responsibilities towards Britain's servicemen and women, laid out in the Military Covenant. They say it is a damning indictment of an army that is losing its edge and close to breaking point as it struggles to keep pace with fighting a war on two fronts.

Patrick Mercer, a Tory MP and former army colonel, said the report reinforced widespread anxieties over conditions for the troops and that many top-ranking officers are breaking ranks to express their fears. "I've been talking to some very senior officers recently, all of whom privately have said to me that the Army is running on empty; the money has run out," Mr Mercer said. "The manpower situation is in crisis, and the so-called Military Covenant is abused at every turn. The thing that really worries them is the manpower situation and the fact that the MoD seems to be in denial about it."

Colonel Bob Stewart, a former commander of British forces in Bosnia, said the Army was struggling with overstretch and undermanning. He added: "It's inevitable that the British Army is actually woefully imbalanced ... badly equipped, particularly for training, and quite honestly I'm afraid to say it is losing its edge as a top-rate army in the world because it cannot maintain it."

Major General Julian Thompson, who led 3 Commando Brigade in the Falklands war, said: "There are certain ministers that may be very honest and care and want things done, but the problem is whether they are being given support from the very top, and I sense that they are not. We all know where the money comes from, the Treasury and the Prime Minister."

Major General Patrick Cordingley, who led the Desert Rats into Iraq during the first Gulf War, said the report raised serious questions about the Army's ability to meet its commitments. He said: "I would be very concerned about the strain on the armed forces remaining at this level of deployment in both Afghanistan and Iraq. It cannot be sustained for longer than perhaps another two years."

An MoD spokesman yesterday tried to gloss over the report, which was based on months of interviews with thousands of soldiers and their families between July 2007 and January 2008. He attempted to play down the degree of poverty among soldiers, many of whom earn £16,000 a year, and added: "Briefing team reports contain the unedited views of individual soldiers, some of which reflect widespread opinion, while others are isolated views. The reports are published widely and the feedback given by lower ranks in the Army helps CGS to stay firmly in touch with life across the Army."

But there is a growing dissent being expressed on military websites. Pay remains a major issue for both soldiers and officers. One describes the pay as "appalling, disgusting and pathetic".

Douglas Young of the British Armed Forces Federation said: "People are leaving the armed forces for financial reasons. There's no question about that."

Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Nick Harvey said, "Junior ranks in the armed forces have terrible salaries when you compare them to people starting out in the police service or fire service. How on earth are you supposed to recruit and retain people unless you offer a decent salary?"

06-10-2008, 11:41 AM
^Keeping this thread alive....

07-09-2008, 01:15 AM

07-14-2008, 12:38 AM
President George W Bush: US officials acknowledge that no American president can afford to remain idle if Israel is threatened

President George W Bush backs Israeli plan for strike on Iran (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article4322508.ece)

As Tehran tests new missiles, America believes only a show of force can deter President Ahmadinejad

President George W Bush has told the Israeli government that he may be prepared to approve a future military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities if negotiations with Tehran break down, according to a senior Pentagon official.

Despite the opposition of his own generals and widespread scepticism that America is ready to risk the military, political and economic consequences of an airborne strike on Iran, the president has given an “amber light” to an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s main nuclear sites with long-range bombing sorties, the official told The Sunday Times.

“Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack and tell us when you’re ready,” the official said. But the Israelis have also been told that they can expect no help from American forces and will not be able to use US military bases in Iraq for logistical support.

Nor is it certain that Bush’s amber light would ever turn to green without irrefutable evidence of lethal Iranian hostility. Tehran’s test launches of medium-range ballistic missiles last week were seen in Washington as provocative and poorly judged, but both the Pentagon and the CIA concluded that they did not represent an immediate threat of attack against Israeli or US targets.

“It’s really all down to the Israelis,” the Pentagon official added. “This administration will not attack Iran. This has already been decided. But the president is really preoccupied with the nuclear threat against Israel and I know he doesn’t believe that anything but force will deter Iran.”

The official added that Israel had not so far presented Bush with a convincing military proposal. “If there is no solid plan, the amber will never turn to green,” he said.

There was also resistance inside the Pentagon from officers concerned about Iranian retaliation. “The uniform people are opposed to the attack plans, mainly because they think it will endanger our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the source said.

Complicating the calculations in both Washington and Tel Aviv is the prospect of an incoming Democratic president who has already made it clear that he prefers negotiation to the use of force.

Senator Barack Obama’s previous opposition to the war in Iraq, and his apparent doubts about the urgency of the Iranian threat, have intensified pressure on the Israeli hawks to act before November’s US presidential election. “If I were an Israeli I wouldn’t wait,” the Pentagon official added.

The latest round of regional tension was sparked by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which fired nine long and medium-range missiles in war game manoeuvres in the Gulf last Wednesday.

Iran’s state-run media reported that one of them was a modified Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which has a claimed range of 1,250 miles and could theoretically deliver a one-ton nuclear warhead over Israeli cities. Tel Aviv is about 650 miles from western Iran. General Hossein Salami, a senior Revolutionary Guard commander, boasted that “our hands are always on the trigger and our missiles are ready for launch”.

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said she saw the launches as “evidence that the missile threat is not an imaginary one”, although the impact of the Iranian stunt was diminished on Thursday when it became clear that a photograph purporting to show the missiles being launched had been faked.

The one thing that all sides agree on is that any strike by either Iran or Israel would trigger a catastrophic round of retaliation that would rock global oil markets, send the price of petrol soaring and wreck the progress of the US military effort in Iraq.

Abdalla Salem El-Badri, secretary-general of Opec, the oil producers’ consortium, said last week that a military conflict involving Iran would see an “unlimited” rise in prices because any loss of Iranian production — or constriction of shipments through the Strait of Hormuz — could not be replaced. Iran is Opec’s second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia.

Equally worrying for Bush would be the impact on the US mission in Iraq, which after years of turmoil has seen gains from the military “surge” of the past few months, and on American operations in the wider region. A senior Iranian official said yesterday that Iran would destroy Israel and 32 American military bases in the Middle East in response to any attack.

Yet US officials acknowledge that no American president can afford to remain idle if Israel is threatened. How genuine the Iranian threat is was the subject of intense debate last week, with some analysts arguing that Iran might have a useable nuclear weapon by next spring and others convinced that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is engaged in a dangerous game of bluffing — mainly to impress a domestic Iranian audience that is struggling with economic setbacks and beginning to question his leadership.

Among the sceptics is Kenneth Katzman, a former CIA analyst and author of a book on the Revolutionary Guard. “I don’t subscribe to the view that Iran is in a position to inflict devastating damage on anyone,” said Katzman, who is best known for warning shortly before 9/11 that terrorists were planning to attack America.

“The Revolutionary Guards have always underperformed militarily,” he said. “Their equipment is quite inaccurate if not outright inoperable. Those missile launches were more like putting up a ‘beware of the dog’ sign. They want everyone to think that if you mess with them, you will get bitten.”

A former adviser to Rice noted that Ahmadinejad’s confrontational attitude had earned him powerful enemies among Iran’s religious leadership. Professor Shai Feldman, director of Middle East studies at Brandeis University, said the Iranian government was getting “clobbered” because of global economic strains. “His [Ahmadinejad's] failed policies have made Iran more vulnerable to sanctions and people close to the mullahs have decided he’s a liability,” he said.

In Israel, Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, has his own domestic problems with a corruption scandal that threatens to unseat him and the media have been rife with speculation that he might order an attack on Iran to distract attention from his difficulties. According to one of his closest friends, Olmert recently warned him that “in three months’ time it will be a different Middle East”.

Yet even the most hawkish officials acknowledge that Israel would face what would arguably be the most challenging military mission of its 60-year existence.

“No one here is talking about more than delaying the [nuclear] programme,” said the Pentagon source. He added that Israel would need to set back the Iranians by at least five years for an attack to be considered a success.

Even that may be beyond Israel’s competence if it has to act alone. Obvious targets would include Iran’s Isfahan plant, where uranium ore is converted into gas, the Natanz complex where this gas is used to enrich uranium in centrifuges and the plutonium-producing Arak heavy water plant. But Iran is known to have scattered other elements of its nuclear programme in underground facilities around the country. Neither US nor Israeli intelligence is certain that it knows where everything is.

“Maybe the Israelis could start off the attack and have us finish it off,” Katzman added. “And maybe that has been their intention all along. But in terms of the long-term military campaign that would be needed to permanently suppress Iran’s nuclear programme, only the US is perceived as having that capability right now.”

07-14-2008, 02:49 AM
Que, I believe this thread has earned, and is well deserving of being a sticky. There's too much info (and effort) in it for it to fall off front page again. Especially in these days and times...

Please consider.

07-14-2008, 06:18 PM

U.S. terrorism watch list tops 1 million (http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN1447675120080714)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. watch list of terrorism suspects has passed 1 million records, corresponding to about 400,000 people, and a leading civil rights group said on Monday the number was far too high to be effective.

The Bush administration disagreed and called the list one of the most effective tools implemented after the September 11 hijacked plane attacks -- when a federal "no-fly" list contained just 16 people considered threats to aviation.

The American Civil Liberties Union publicized the 1 million milestone with a news conference and release.

It said the watch list was an impediment to millions of travelers and called for changes, including tightening criteria for adding names, giving travelers a right to challenge their inclusion and improving procedures for taking wrongly included names off the list.

"America's new million-record watch list is a perfect symbol for what's wrong with this administration's approach to security: it's unfair, out-of-control, a waste of resources (and) treats the rights of the innocent as an afterthought," ACLU technology director Barry Steinhardt said in a release.

President George W. Bush ordered in the current list in September 2003 as a way to wrap several growing terrorism watchlists into a single government database compiled and overseen by the FBI, through a Terrorist Screening Center.

Suspected terrorists or people believed to have links to terrorism are included on the list, which can be used by a wide range of government agencies in security screening. About 50,000 individuals are included on the Transportation Security Administration "no-fly" or "selectee" lists that subject them to travel bans, arrest or additional screening.

Critics have pointed to troubles that figures such as U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, 1960s civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis and singer Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) have had with watch lists as evidence the consolidated database is poorly managed.

The Terrorism Screening Center, which maintains the list, has already put in place several steps to ensure the list is accurate and up-to-date, spokesman Chad Kolton said.

He cited a report last year by the Government Accountability Office that said there was general agreement within the federal government that the watch list had helped to combat terrorism.

"The list is very effective. In fact it's one of the most effective counterterrorism tools that our country has," he said.

About 400,000 individuals are included on the list, about 95 percent of whom are not U.S. citizens or residents, Kolton said. The watch list also includes separate entries with aliases, fake passports and fake birth dates, bringing the total number of records to more than 1 million, he said.

TSA spokesman Christopher White said the agency's "no-fly" watchlists to screen travelers were "scrubbed" last year to remove about half of the names, leaving them with somewhat fewer than 50,000.

He said Kennedy and Lewis were never on the list, and that problems they reported were due to their misidentification with names properly on it.

07-16-2008, 04:45 PM
China's yuan hits another new high against U.S. dollar (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-07/16/content_8554187.htm)

BEIJING, July 16 (Xinhua) -- China's currency, the yuan, on Wednesday set another post-revaluation high against the weakening U.S. dollar for the second consecutive day.

The central parity rate of the yuan, or Renminbi (RMB), was 6.8128 yuan to the dollar, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trading System. The reference rate was up 102 basis points from the previous trading day.

The yuan has risen more than 7 percent against the dollar so far this year, compared with the 6.9-percent gain last year, and has broken its own record value 55 times.

Market observers said Wednesday's depreciation of the dollar was due largely to lingering concerns about credit risks in the U.S. financial regime, despite the U.S. government's decision to rescue struggling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the biggest providers of financing for home loans.

Some experts called for actions to slow RMB appreciation, so as to avoid adversely affecting the Chinese economy.

On Wednesday, the Renminbi gained 162 basis points against the euro to 10.8375 yuan, but lost 689 basis points against 100 Japanese yen to 6.5017 yuan.

07-19-2008, 02:04 PM
US attack imminent, says Sherpao (http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008%5C07%5C13%5Cstory_13-7-2008_pg1_8)

PESHAWAR: Former interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao on Saturday sounded “serious” threats to the country’s sovereignty and integrity, saying that the United States could attack Pakistan any time soon.

“There is an imminent danger of [a] US attack on Pakistan,” Sherpao told reporters at his residence.

His comments came two days after NATO attacked a Pakistani outpost on the Afghan border in South Waziristan. “The government should immediately call a joint session of parliament to discuss the situation and evolve a national consensus,” the former minister said. “The country’s security is apolitical issue and we must all be concerned about it,” he added.

He however said it was difficult to say the US would land boots in the Tribal Areas or continue with airstrikes to target what Washington terms militants. “We don’t know this ... they may be Iraq-like mercenaries.”

07-20-2008, 04:38 PM
Extreme measures: There are more than 1,000 laws which give officials the right to enter private property

Now there are 1,000 laws that will let the state into your home (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1036561/Now-1-000-laws-let-state-home.html)

The march of the Big Brother state under Labour was highlighted last night as it was revealed that there are now 1,043 laws that give the authorities the power to enter a home or business.

Nearly half have been introduced since Labour came to power 11 years ago. They include the right to:

• Invade your home to see if your pot plants have pests or do not have a 'plant passport' (Plant Health England Order 2005).

• Survey your home and garden to see if your hedge is too high (Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003).

• Check that accommodation given to asylum seekers is not being lived in by non-asylum seekers (Immigration and Asylum Act 1999).

• Raid a house to check if unlicensed gambling is taking place (Gambling Act 2005 Inspection Regulations 2007).

• Seize fridges without the correct energy rating (Energy Information Household Refrigerators and Freezers Regulations 2004).

The rise in clipboard-wielding state inspectors flies in the face of repeated pledges by Ministers to curb the power of bureaucrats.

The full extent of the state's 'powers of entry' is revealed in documents slipped out quietly by the Government last week.

The information was posted on the Home Office website, but in a highly unusual move, the computer file was locked to prevent it being copied or printed. A secret Home Office password was required to access the file.

A Home Office spokeswoman denied the restrictions were an attempt to stop the state's powers being circulated more widely.

She claimed it was a 'mistake' and the file would be unlocked tomorrow.

Some 420 new powers of entry are the product of laws introduced since 1997. A further 16 are in laws due to be approved by Parliament in the next few weeks.

A recent study by the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank warned that the 'proliferation and variety' of such laws mean householders can no longer 'realistically be aware' of their rights and legal obligations.

Gordon Brown last year announced a review of 'powers of entry' laws and said they would be subjected to a 'liberty test' to stop abuses by the state.

However, new powers set to be approved by Parliament include inspecting for non-human genetic material, for looted cultural property from Iraq and for 'undeclared' carbon dioxide, as well as enforcing bin tax.

Town hall 'bin police' already have the right to enter homes, take photographs, seize contents of bins, and 'investigate as required'.

Householders can be fined up to £5,000 if they refuse entry or 'obstruct' an official.

Shadow Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: 'Day by day under Labour, the rights and liberties of law-abiding citizens are being eroded.'

07-20-2008, 04:41 PM
fuck dem greedy bastids the dog tag works just fine......

07-20-2008, 04:46 PM
Maryland troopers spied on activist groups (http://washtimes.com/news/2008/jul/18/maryland-troopers-spied-on-activist-groups/)

Undercover Maryland state troopers infiltrated three groups advocating peace and protesting the death penalty — attending meetings and sending reports on their activities to U.S. intelligence and military agencies, according to documents released Thursday.

The documents show the activities occurred from at least March 2005 to May 2006 and that officers used false names, which the documents referred to as "covert identities" - to open e-mail accounts to receive messages from the groups.

Also included in the 46 pages of documents, obtained by the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, is an account of an activist's name being entered into a federally funded database designed to share information among state, local and federal law-enforcement agencies on terrorist and drug trafficking suspects.

ACLU attorney David Rocah said state police violated federal laws prohibiting departments that receive federal funds from maintaining databases with information about political activities and affiliations.

The activist was identified as Max Obuszewski. His "primary crime" was entered into the database as "terrorism - anti govern(ment)." His "secondary crime" was listed as "terrorism - anti-war protestors." The database is known as the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA.

"This is not supposed to happen in America," said Mr. Rocah. "In a free society, which relies on the engagement of citizens in debate and protest and political activity to maintain that freedom ... you should be able to attend a meeting about an issue you care about without having to worry that government spies are entering your name into a database used to track alleged terrorists and drug traffickers."

Mr. Rocah called the surveillance "Kafka-esque insanity."

State police Chief Col. Terrence B. Sheridan said the agency "does not inappropriately curtail the expression or demonstration of the civil liberties of protesters or organizations acting lawfully."

The surveillance of Mr. Obuszewski, of Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, and another person came to light during his trial for trespassing and disorderly conduct in a 2004 protest outside the National Security Agency's headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.

Documents released by the prosecution revealed that the protesters had been under surveillance by an entity called the Baltimore Intelligence Unit.

The Maryland ACLU sued last month, claiming the state police refused to release public documents about the surveillance of peace activists.

The documents, which include intelligence reports and printouts from the database, show that several undercover officers from the state police's Homeland Security and Intelligence Division attended meetings of three groups: Mr. Obuszewski's group; the Coalition to End the Death Penalty; and the Committee to Save Vernon Evans, a convicted murderer who was slated for execution.

The documents show at least 288 hours of surveillance over the 14-month period. The undercover officers attended at least 20 organizing meetings at community halls and churches and a dozen rallies against the death penalty, including several at the state's SuperMax jail in Baltimore.

Included in the documents are references to a proposed sit-in at the offices of Baltimore County State's Attorney SandraA. O'Connor. However, they show no trooper reports of violence or threats of violence. Organizers repeatedly stressed the importance of peaceful and orderly demonstrations, the documents show.

"There were about 75-80 protestors at the rally and none participated in any type of civil disobedience or illegal acts," said one report of a demonstration against the death penalty at the SuperMax jail. "Protesters were even careful to move out of the way for Division of Correction employees who were going into the parking lot for work."

Still, information about the protesters and their activities was sent to seven agencies, including the National Security Agency and an unnamed military intelligence official.

"Americans have the right to peaceably assemble with others of a like mind and speak out about what they believe in," Mr. Rocah said. "For state agencies to spend hundreds of hours entering information about lawful and peaceful political activities into a criminal database is beyond unconscionable. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars, which does nothing to make us safer from actual terrorists or drug dealers."

07-21-2008, 04:36 PM

Bluetooth is watching: secret study gives Bath a flavour of Big Brother (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jul/21/civilliberties.privacy)

Tens of thousands of Britons are being covertly tracked without their consent in a technology experiment which has installed scanners at secret locations in offices, campuses, streets and pubs to pinpoint people's whereabouts.

The scanners, the first 10 of which were installed in Bath three years ago, are capturing Bluetooth radio signals transmitted from devices such as mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras, and using the data to follow unwitting targets without their permission.

The data is being used in a project called Cityware to study how people move around cities. But pedestrians are not being told that the devices they carry around in their pockets and handbags could be providing a permanent record of their journeys, which is then stored on a central database.

The Bath University researchers behind the project claim their scanners do not have access to the identity of the people tracked.

Eamonn O'Neill, Cityware's director, said: "The objective is not to track individuals, whether by Bluetooth or any other means. We are interested in the aggregate behaviour of city dwellers as a whole. The notion that any agency would seriously consider Bluetooth scanning as a surveillance technique is ludicrous."

But privacy experts disagree, pointing out that Bluetooth signals are assigned code names that can, to varying degrees, indicate a person's identity.

Many people use pseudonyms, nicknames, initials, or abbreviations to identify their Bluetooth signals. Cityware's scanners are also picking up signals that are listed using people's full name, email address and telephone numbers.

Contacted about the Cityware project, the office of the information commissioner said in a statement that the public should "think carefully" before switching on their Bluetooth signals. A spokesman said the government watchdog would "monitor" the experiment.

"This is yet another example of moronic use of technology," said Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, an independent campaigning group defending personal privacy. "For Bath University to assert that there aren't privacy implications demonstrates an astonishing disregard for consumer rights. If the technology is as safe as they claim, then all the technical specifications should be published and people should be informed when they are being tracked."

He added: "This technology could well become the CCTV of the mobile industry. It would not take much adjustment to make this system a ubiquitous surveillance infrastructure over which we have no control."

Although initially confined to Bath, Cityware has spread across the planet after the software was made freely available on the internet sites Facebook and Second Life. Thousands of people downloaded the software to equip their home and office computers with Cityware scanners.

More than 1,000 scanners across the world at any time detect passing Bluetooth signals and send the data to Cityware's central database. Those with access to the database admit they do not know precisely how many scanners have been created, but there are known to be scanners in San Diego, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, Toronto and Berlin.

In Bath alone scanners are tracking as many as 3,000 Bluetooth devices every weekend. One recent study used the scanners to monitor the movements of 10,000 people in the city.

About 250,000 owners of Bluetooth devices, mostly mobile phones, have been spotted by Cityware scanners worldwide.

O'Neill, who described his project as "public observation" rather than surveillance, said the data would improve scientific understanding of the privacy and security threats posed by Bluetooth technology. A "potentially immensely valuable side-effect", he added, was that data about people's movements could help research into the spread of biological epidemics.

"Just as we continue to research forms of defence against other more traditional threats, we must research forms of defence against new digital threats," he said, adding that the database eventually would be destroyed.

However Vassilis Kostakos, a former member of Cityware who now does Bluetooth experiments on buses in Portugal for the University of Madeira, accepted such tracking was a problem.

"We are actually trying to fix this," Kostakos said. "If a person's phone is talking to a scanner, then they should be told about it. Any technology can have good and bad consequences. In many ways, I think the role of a scientist is to point out both. I agree this is complex and I agree there are harmful scenarios."

The technique has echoes of the thriller Enemy of the State in which the character played by Will Smith is followed by satellite surveillance.

Kostakos said he could foresee complex ways in which criminals could exploit the technology, adding: "I recently tried to look at people's travel patterns across the world, and we [saw] how a unique device which showed up in San Francisco turned up in Caracas and then Paris."

Bluetooth tracking technology is already being used to aim advertisements at people, for example as they walk past shops or billboards.

Bluetoothtracking.org, a website based in the Netherlands, is using the same technology to publish live data about people's movements across the town of Apeldoorn. The facility allows people to search the whereabouts of friends and associates without them knowing about it.

Some scientists using the technology describe a future scenario in which homes and cars adapt services to suit their owners, automatically dimming lights, preparing food and selecting preferred television channels.

07-23-2008, 12:35 AM

'US will strike targets in Pakistan' (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=64440&sectionid=351020401)

The US presidential hopeful Barack Obama says he will strike at al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan if Washington gets "actionable intelligence".

"... what I've said is that if we had actionable intelligence against high-value al-Qaeda targets and the Pakistani government was unwilling to go after those targets, then we should," the Democrat, who aspires to be the first black-American president, noted.

The 47-year-old senator from Illinois, currently on a tour to Afghanistan and Iraq, told the CBS News, "Now, my hope is that it doesn't come to that. Pakistani government would recognize that if we had Osama bin Laden in our sights, that we should fire or capture..."

Media reports say Washington is taking steps to make it easier to launch covert special missions in Pakistan's remote tribal areas, near Afghan border, where al-Qaeda is believed to be rebuilding its network.

Pakistan's newly elected PPP-led government, apparently seeking to quell such criticism, said that the country has taken "several measures to prevent cross-border infiltration by insurgents."

07-27-2008, 08:27 PM
Fox News Busted (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-OpIXfXKO8)

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07-29-2008, 03:32 AM
Laser Weapons

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07-30-2008, 11:44 AM
<IFRAME SRC="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7532162.stm" WIDTH=780 HEIGHT=1500>
<A HREF="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7532162.stm">link</A>


07-30-2008, 05:48 PM
U.S. companies vulnerable to foreign buyers (http://www.reuters.com/article/innovationNews/idUSN2934360120080729?feedType=RSS&feedName=innovationNews&rpc=22&sp=true)

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - With a record volume of international takeovers of U.S. companies, it almost appears America itself is up for sale.

The weak dollar and slumping stock prices of U.S. companies has created a window of opportunity for international buyers to snatch up American icons such as beer brewer Anheuser-Busch Cos Inc (BUD.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and the landmark Chrysler Building in New York.

"The dollar has depreciated so much that America is on the sale rack," said Sung Won Sohn, a professor of economics at California State University.

"America has such an appetite for foreign goods -- Chinese imports and oil -- that U.S. dollars have gone overseas. Now, many Americans aren't happy that foreign companies are buying pieces of America with the money we gave them in the first place," Sohn said.

In the second quarter, acquisitions of U.S. companies by international buyers totaled $124.3 billion, marking the highest total for any second quarter on record and jumping 23 percent over the year-earlier quarter, according to research firm Dealogic.

International takeovers represented 22 percent of all U.S. merger activity in the first half of the year, up from 17 percent in the first half of 2007, according to research firm Dealogic.

InBev NV's (INTB.BR: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) deal to acquire Anheuser-Busch for $52 billion gave Belgium the distinction of being the most active foreign buyer of U.S. assets in the first half of this year, followed by Spain and Canada, Dealogic said.

The Anheuser-Busch deal ranked as the second-biggest cross-border acquisition of a U.S. company in history, following Vodafone Group Plc's (VOD.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) $60.3 billion acquisition of AirTouch Communications in 1999, according to Thomson Reuters.

Other U.S. assets recently falling into international hands include Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc (BRL.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which agreed to be acquired by Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (TEVA.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) (TEVA.TA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the world's largest generic drug company, for $7.46 billion; and eye care company Alcon Inc (ACL.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) which is being bought by Switzerland's Novartis AG (NOVN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) for about $27.7 billion.

Earlier this month, Swiss drugmaker Roche AG (ROG.VX: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) made a bid to acquire the shares of its U.S. partner Genentech Inc (DNA.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) it does not already own for $43.7 billion. Even the Pennsylvania Turnpike awarded long-term leasing rights to a Spanish-led investor group for $12.8 billion.


Although some investment bankers and analyst pin the spike in cross-border activity to the weak dollar, others contend that strategy and the desire to expand globally were the motivators behind many of these recent corporate deals.

"Strategic buyers don't wake up in the morning and say: 'This currency is cheap. I'm going to go do a deal.' They do a deal because it's strategic and makes sense," said Herald Ritch, president and co-chief executive officer of investment bank Sagent Advisers.

"There's no question that, on the margin, currency levels tend to influence decisions, but strategic deals get done because they fit a company's strategy," Ritch said.

European companies have been the most active buyers of U.S. assets, with 314 deals so far this year, compared with 117 deals by Asian acquirers, and 33 by African and Middle Eastern buyers, according to Thomson Reuters.

"Europe and the U.S. dominate deal activity globally, so it makes sense that deals between those areas would predominate," Ritch said.

Although some investment bankers view the second quarter's record pace of U.S. takeovers as an anomaly, Sohn said the 13-percent depreciation of the dollar against major currencies over the past 18 months should fuel more acquisitions.

"There are trillions of dollars overseas that have to be put to work. This is just the tip of the iceberg," Sohn said.

08-01-2008, 04:44 PM
Arnold Schwarzenegger slashes 20,000 government jobs in California (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/2486554/Arnold-Schwarzenegger-slashes-20000-government-jobs-in-California.html)

The state's Republican governor said the action was necessary given California's failure to enact a budget for the current fiscal year, which began on July 1.

The state faces a massive $15.2 billion deficit and Democratic and Republican lawmakers have so far been unable to agree on a spending plan.

Officials say if a budget is not approved within the next few weeks, the state could be forced to turn to Wall Street for expensive loans in order to pay its bills.

Mr Schwarzenegger denied his move was political and aimed at forcing legislators to break the stalemate, insisting it was vital to free up funds given the "terrible situation".

"I have a responsibility to make sure that our state has enough money to pay its bills. The executive order that I will sign here today will free up money to help cover the state's costs." The decision was "not an action that I take lightly", he added, acknowledging it would "affect people at a time when they are already struggling".

Slashing seasonal and part-time jobs and cutting state wages could save up to $1 billion a month, according to estimates.

Some workers, including 24-hour medical staff, are exempt from the lay-offs. The governor promised normal wages would be reinstated and back pay issued once the budget was passed.

The order, however, faces resistance. John Chiang, the Democrat state controller whose office issues employee pay cheques, said he would refuse to comply with the part relating to wages. He argued the state had adequate funds to pay workers until September and the move could leave the state vulnerable to legal action.

The measure was also challenged by state employee unions, the largest of which has filed a lawsuit attempting to block the order.

California is the only state with a fiscal year beginning July 1 that remains without a budget.

Mr Schwarzenegger said over the past two decades that the nation's most populous state had only met its budget deadline four times.

08-01-2008, 04:55 PM
US military deaths in Iraq war at 4,127 (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080731/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_us_deaths;_ylt=AiOGQbM703Ug.I_9TGVlA.4LewgF)

As of Thursday, July 31, 2008, at least 4,127 members of the U.S. military have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The figure includes eight military civilians killed in action. At least 3,361 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is one fewer than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Thursday at 10 a.m. EDT.

The British military has reported 176 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 21; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, seven; El Salvador, five; Slovakia, four; Latvia and Georgia, three each; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, Romania, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, South Korea, one death each.


The latest deaths reported by the military:

• A soldier died Thursday in a non-combat incident in Ninevah province.


The latest identifications reported by the military:

• Army Sgt. James A. McHale, 31, Fairfield, Mont.; died Wednesday at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., of wounds suffered July 22 in Taji when his vehicle struck an explosive; assigned to the 40th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany.

08-02-2008, 12:41 PM

Airport threat to your laptop: U.S. also gets power to seize iPods and mobiles in new anti-terror measure (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1040812/Airport-threat-laptop-U-S-gets-power-seize-iPods-mobiles-new-anti-terror-measure.html)

Travellers to the U.S. could have their laptops and other electronic devices seized at the airport under new anti-terror measures.

Federal agents have been granted powers to take such devices and hold them as long as they like.

They do not even need grounds to suspect wrongdoing.

The Department of Homeland Security said the policies applied to anyone entering the country by land, sea or air, including U.S. citizens.

The extent of the new powers, which have been secretly in place for some time, was revealed yesterday in the Washington Post.

They cover hard drives, flash drives, mobile phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes, as well as books, pamphlets and other written materials, the report said.

Federal agents must take measures to protect business information and lawyer-client privileged material.

Copies of data must be destroyed when a review is completed and no probable cause exists to keep the information.

But agents are allowed to share the contents of seized computers with other agencies and private entities for data decryption and 'other reasons'.

Copies sent to non-federal entities must be returned to the DHS, but there is no limitation on authorities keeping written notes or reports about the materials.

The new powers came to light under pressure from civil liberties and business travel groups after increasing numbers of travellers reported that they had laptops, phones and other digital devices removed and examined.

The development was described as 'truly alarming' by Wisconsin Democrat Senator-Russell Feingold, who is investigating U.S. border search practices.

He said he intends to introduce legislation that would require reasonable suspicion for border searches, as well as prohibit profiling on race, religion or national origin.

DHS officials insisted the policies were reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism.

They said they had been disclosed only because of public interest.

But Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said it was alarming that the policies 'don't establish any criteria for whose computer can be searched.'

He added: 'They are saying that they can rifle through all the information contained in a traveller's laptop without having even a smidgeon of evidence that the traveller is breaking the law.'

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said last month that 'the most dangerous contraband is often contained in laptop computers or other electronic devices'.

Searches had uncovered 'violent jihadist materials' as well as images of child pornography.

In an article for U.S.A Today, Chertoff wrote that 'as a practical matter, travellers only go to secondary [a more thorough examination] when there is some level of suspicion.'

He said legislation setting a particular standard for searches would have a 'dangerous, chilling effect' because it could contradict assessments by officers, often made in a split second.

In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld the government's power to conduct searches of an international traveller's laptop without suspicion of wrongdoing.

08-03-2008, 01:51 PM

CRISIS PUTS NY IN 'SELL' HELL GOV EYE (http://www.nypost.com/seven/07302008/news/regionalnews/crisis_puts_ny_in_sell_hell_122211.htm)

ALBANY - Warning of an approaching economic calamity, Gov. Paterson yesterday called an emergency session of the state Legislature - and raised the specter that New York may have to sell off roads, bridges and tunnels to close a massive budget deficit.

In a rare televised address, the Democratic governor cited "private-public partnerships" involving the sale of state assets - widely condemned by critics as fiscal gimmickry - as one way to stem a tide of red ink brought on by the sagging economy and woes on Wall Street.

"We can't wait and hope that this problem will resolve itself," Paterson said. "These times call for action, and today I promise you there will be action."

Profit-tax collections from the state's 16 biggest banks, which were at $173 million in June 2007, fell to $5 million last month, Paterson noted. That's a shocking 97 percent plunge.

But the governor's five-minute speech offered few specific solutions to a three-year budget deficit. The gap has ballooned to $26.2 billion from $21.5 billion - a whopping 22 percent increase - in just 90 days.

Next year alone, the state expects to face a budget deficit of $6.4 billion, up from a projection in March of $5 billion.

Paterson promised to examine ways to trim the state work force and consider deeper budget cuts beyond the 3.3 percent he ordered after taking office this spring.

"We're going to end the legislators' vacations and bring them back to Albany to reprioritize the way we manage New York state's finances," he said.

Paterson said he would ask lawmakers during the session on Aug. 19 to take up his proposal to cap school property taxes at 4 percent a year.

In a nod to the tax cap's chief opponent, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), the governor also promised action on Silver's pet proposal to increase home-heating subsidies.

But Silver reacted coolly.

"If it is our intention to ask working families to shoulder the burden of these cuts, we must ensure that our most affluent citizens share that burden," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-LI) cautioned Paterson that any cuts to school funding were off the table.

The "sale" of state assets has been tried in the past during difficult economic times and has been met with condemnation from budget watchdogs.

The most famous - or infamous - example: former Gov. Mario Cuomo's sale of Attica prison to a semi-independent state agency in 1991 to raise $200 million. Many critics noted that the bond sale cost the state hundreds of millions extra over the next few years.

"One gets a little concerned when 'selling off state assets' and 'budget deficits' get mentioned in the same sentence," said Elizabeth Lynam, a state policy expert with the Citizens Budget Commission.

"If it's used to close a budget gap, it's a one-shot. It's doesn't help you in the long run. It's a fiscal gimmick."

Mayor Bloomberg last night praised Paterson's effort "to tackle the serious problems we face" this year.

"The governor demonstrated that he is ready to stand up to the interest groups that will no doubt protest before the State House, just as they took to the steps of City Hall earlier this year," Bloomberg said.

08-03-2008, 06:16 PM
soon as im done with school -im jumpin ship this shit is getting too fuckin crazy

08-03-2008, 07:00 PM
Clamp down: Families who overfill their bins will receive larger fines than shoplifters, under Government-approved plans

Families who break the bin rules and overfill will get a £110 fine... more than a drunken yob would receive (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1041098/Families-break-bin-rules-overfill-110-fine--drunken-yob-receive.html)

Householders who put too much rubbish in their bins face tougher punishments than shoplifters and drunken louts.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has backed on-the-spot fines of up to £110 for those who overfill their bins, leave them out too early, or put out extra sacks of rubbish alongside them.

The price of defying rubbish regulations is £30 higher than the £80 fixed penalty fine given to shoplifters or those involved in drunken disorder in city centres.

The confirmation that Labour has been putting pressure on town halls and their bin police comes after three years of rapid growth in the number of fines handed out to residents for 'littering' - the offence committed by those who infringe strict wheelie bin rules.

Around 20,000 tickets for breach of rubbish collection rules are thought to have been issued in 2006, the latest year for which figures have been released. Tickets usually demand fines of £100 or £110.

Legislation covering on-the-spot fines for bin offences says they should be at least £75, but lays down no upper limit.

The Government has always insisted that the upper levels of bin fines were a matter for local councils to decide, but yesterday the Environment Department confirmed that ' enforcement' guidance laid down for councils from Whitehall has set the £110 level.

A spokesman for Defra said: 'The guidance is not new. It sets fines at between £75 and £110.'

He added: 'Fixed penalty notice fines are an alternative to prosecution, and were called for by local authorities so that they could react to the severity and frequency of the environmental offence and offender and ensure our streets are kept clean for all of us. Ultimately the fines are there to act as a deterrent.'

Penalties for breaking the bin rules, which usually go alongside fortnightly collections and compulsory recycling, are much tougher than those applied to thieves or to drunks creating late-night mayhem in town centres.

Bus driver Gareth Corkhill was given a criminal record earlier this year for overfilling his wheelie bin to the point where the lid was open by four inches.

Mr Corkhill was taken to court by Copeland council in Cumbria after he failed to pay a £110 on-the-spot fine.

The father of four was ordered to pay a &pound;210 fine, equal to his week's wages, plus a £15 surcharge to help 'victims of violence', and given a record.

By contrast, shoplifters and drunks are given £80 fines, which often do not appear on their criminal record and which frequently go unpaid.

Magistrates and lawyers frequently claim that criminals are given on-the-spot fines by police anxious to hit crime clearup targets and escape paperwork.

In fact they should be brought to court for more severe punishment. Last year prolific thief Anthony Hickingbotham ran up nine £80 on-the-spot fines for shoplifting and other criminal offences - none of which he paid - before finally being brought before a court in Hull.

The judge was not told about the unpaid fines and sent Hickingbotham on a drug treatment course.

Tory local government spokesman Eric Pickles said Labour was creating 'an army of municipal bin bullies hitting lawabiding families with massive fines while professional criminals get the soft touch'.

He added: 'It is clear Whitehall bureaucrats are instructing town halls to target householders with fines for minor breaches.

'Yet with the slow death of weekly collections and shrinking bins, it is increasingly hard for families to dispose of their rubbish responsibly.

'It is fundamentally unfair that householders are now getting hammered with larger fines than shoplifters.'

08-03-2008, 07:07 PM
'UK duped by US on torture' (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2008/08/02/uk-duped-by-us-on-torture-115875-20680619/)

Britain was "duped on a colossal scale" by the US into allowing torture on UK territory, it was claimed yesterday.

Time magazine said at least one terror suspect had been imprisoned and interrogated by the US on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. America has a base on the island

It quoted an anonymous US official who claimed "high value prisoners" had been held and questioned there.

Legal charity Reprieve said the revelations were shocking. Director Clive Stafford Smith said: "It further demonstrates that the British government has allowed itself to be duped by the US on a colossal scale. While ministers have spent years looking the other way, British territory has been used for kidnapping, extraordinary rendition, illegal imprisonment and possibly torture. Ignorance is no excuse when it comes to crimes of this magnitude."

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has always denied the US has detained terror suspects on British territory.

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said: "The Foreign Secretary has been highly visible in recent days. We hope he will be equally forthcoming on such a crucial matter."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We accept US assurances on rendition in good faith. But if others have definitive evidence of it on our overseas territories, including Diego Garcia, we will raise it with the US authorities."

08-04-2008, 05:27 PM

Innocent MP fingerprinted after his uncle's murder discovers his details are still on DNA database one year on (http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/news/article-1041029/Innocent-MP-fingerprinted-uncles-murder-discovers-details-DNA-database-year-on.html)

Innocent MP fingerprinted after his uncle's murder discovers his details are still on DNA database one year on

A Tory MP fingerprinted after the murder of his 80-year-old uncle claimed last night that he is an innocent victim of Labour’s ‘Big Brother’ surveillance state.

Police visited the Commons to take fingerprints and a DNA sample from London MP Greg Hands after the killing last year.

But Mr Hands, 42, is now demanding to know why, one year on and despite repeated requests, his details have not been removed from the national DNA database.

He said that he and hundreds of thousands of other innocent Britons were being ‘stigmatised’ by the database, which is estimated to contain the records of more than four million individuals, including about 900,000 not convicted of any crime.

‘I accept it is helping to solve crimes,’ Mr Hands added, ‘but it seems to me the Home Office and police are building up a national, universal DNA database by stealth. They are trying to get all 60million of us by hook or by crook on to it.

‘They are using every possible reason to collect data from people like me whose links with crime in particular or general are extremely tenuous. Parliament has never approved a universal DNA database.’

The body of the MP’s uncle, widower Les Ince, was discovered in February last year lying in an upstairs cupboard at his home in Walsall, West Midlands.

He had been stabbed in the neck with a barbecue meat skewer. No one has ever been arrested over the killing despite an extensive murder inquiry by police and an appeal by Mr Ince’s son Peter on BBC1’s Crimewatch.

Mr Hands – who believes the killing could have been ‘a burglary gone wrong or some kind of mistaken identity’ – said: ‘I wasn’t particularly close to him but Les was recovering from the death of his wife a few years earlier.

‘A few weeks after Les’s murder, West Midlands Police came to interview me at the House of Commons. I had never been to my uncle’s home but they explained they were interviewing all family members to eliminate them from the inquiry.

‘They had the courtesy to tell me in advance that they intended to take a DNA sample and a complete set of fingerprints. But the two officers made no attempt to seek any information as to whether I might be the guilty party. They never asked where I was in the days around February 21, 2007 – the likely date of the murder.

‘Their main aim appeared to be to gain a DNA sample and the prints of all ten fingers, which they duly did.’

The MP, who also appealed for any new information about the murder, added: ‘They stated in writing that I would have my samples returned after the inquiry was completed. The police promised to return my samples but this was many weeks ago and I am still waiting. In my view, everyone eliminated from an inquiry in this way should be removed from the DNA national records.’

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said the MP’s protests would be looked into.

Mr Hands spoke out after a damning report by the Human Genetics Commission – the Government’s genetic watchdog – demanded new controls over the database.

As well as requiring suspects to give DNA, police can take samples from witnesses or anyone connected to the crime scene but must ask permission.

Critics claim the records are rarely destroyed. The Home Office says the database is a ‘key police intelligence tool’ but insists ‘there are no plans to introduce a universal compulsory or voluntary DNA database’.

A £5,000 reward is offered for any information leading to an arrest or conviction in the Ince case. Call West Midlands Police on 0845 113 500.

08-04-2008, 06:48 PM
”Worst Coverup In The History Of The Military”, SECRET SHOTS (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj7AN4fRe6s)

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08-05-2008, 04:48 PM

Police fire water cannon on anti-Bush protesters in South Korea (http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5gVKaqq1axFCidycQXSo4T29_ocTw)

SEOUL, South Korea — Police fired water cannons at thousands of protesters Tuesday as U.S. President George W. Bush got a volatile reception in South Korea at the start of his Asian trip.

Duelling demonstrations reflected mixed sentiments in South Korea, where public opinion surveys remain generally positive about America, though many people decry Washington for a variety of issues.

Bush will meet Wednesday with President Lee Myung-bak for the third time since the conservative, pro-American leader took office in February.

Some 18,300 police were on high alert with riot gear and bomb-sniffing dogs to maintain order during Bush's brief visit, the National Police Agency said.

About 30,000 people gathered in front of Seoul City Hall for an afternoon Christian prayer service supporting Bush's trip. Large South Korean and U.S. flags were held aloft by balloons overhead along with a banner reading, "Welcome President Bush."

As evening approached, an estimated 20,000 anti-Bush protesters gathered nearby. Police turned water cannons on them as they tried to move onto the main central downtown boulevard, telling the crowd that the liquid contained markers to tag them so they could be identified later.

"I don't have anti-U.S. sentiment. I'm just anti-Bush and anti-Lee Myung-bak," said Uhm Ki-woong, 36, a businessman who was wearing a mask and hat like other demonstrators in an apparent attempt to conceal his identity.

Twelve demonstrators were arrested, along with another 12 at an earlier attempted demonstration near the military airport where Bush landed, police said.

Bush held off on visiting Seoul earlier this year when protesters staged nightly candlelight vigils and repeatedly clashed with riot police over imports of American beef, saying Lee ignored public health concerns over the possibility of mad cow disease and failed to consult with citizens. Lee has promised to patch up relations with Washington that became strained under Seoul's previous decade of liberal governments.

Bush calls Lee a friend, which is good considering the raft of sensitive topics they will tackle before the American president heads to Thailand, then to the Beijing Olympics.

At the top of the list is getting North Korea to live up to its commitment to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

08-05-2008, 07:59 PM

Army recruiter caught threatening teen with jail (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GYnmKGbiTc)

08-06-2008, 04:14 PM
Accused: US President George Bush, shown here at Andrews Air Force Base on Monday, has been accused of an 'impeachable offence'

Spy chiefs warned Blair and Bush Saddam had no WMDs, Pulitzer prize winner claims in explosive new book (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1041916/Spy-chiefs-warned-Blair-Bush-Saddam-WMDs-Pulitzer-prize-winner-claims-explosive-new-book.html)

Spy chiefs warned Blair and Bush Saddam had no WMDs, Pulitzer prize winner claims in explosive new book

Tony Blair and US President George Bush were told emphatically by British spy chiefs before the invasion of Iraq that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, a new book alleges.

The Prime Minister authorised a mission by an MI6 agent to make secret contact with the head of Iraqi intelligence at the beginning of 2003, just three months before US and British troops invaded Iraq, says the explosive book by an American journalist.

But when the agent, named as Michael Shipster, reported that it was highly unlikely that the Iraqi regime had stockpiles chemical and biological weapons that could fall into the hands of Islamist terrorists, his conclusions were roundly rejected by the American military establishment, led by the US Vice President Dick Cheney.

The book, called The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism, also accuses the White House of faking a letter from the same Iraqi intelligence chief linking Iraq with the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The author, Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former Wall St Journal reporter, claims President George Bush ordered the CIA to forge the letter after the 2003 invasion to provide justification for the war.

He claims that Iraqi intelligence boss Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti was in American custody after Saddam was toppled in April 2003 when CIA officers ordered him to write the note and backdate it to July 2001.

Before the war, Habbush met Shipster in Jordan for a series of meetings that were allegedly confirmed to Suskind by Nigel Inkster, the former assistant director of MI6. Shipster was told by Habbush that there were no illicit weapons in Iraq and that Saddam was more worried about a potential military threat from Iran than by a possible invasion by a western coalition.

Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of British intelligence, was also interviewed by Suskind. The author says Sir Richard confirmed Shipster's meetings and report. The author says he asked why Mr Blair did not act on the spy's intelligence and was told that Shipster's mission was an 11th-hour "attempt to try, as it were, I'd say, to diffuse the whole situation".

Sir Richard said: "The problem was the Cheney crowd was in too much of a hurry, really. Bush never resisted them quite strongly enough. Yes, it was probably too late, I imagine, for Cheney. I'm not sure it was too late for Bush." He then repeats: "I don't think it was too late for Bush."

Sir Richard flew to Washington in February 2003 - a month before the invasion - to present the Habbush report to George Tenet, then the CIA director, according to Suskind.

The report stated that according to Habbush, Saddam had ended his nuclear programme in 1991, the same year he destroyed his chemical weapons programme and had ended the biological weapons programme in 1996. It emerged later that Habbush had been telling the whole truth.

But Suskind writes: "The White House then buried the Habbush report. They instructed the British that they were no longer interested in keeping the channel open."

Rob Richer, a former CIA office in the Near East division, told Suskind: "The Brits wanted to avoid war - which was what was driving them. Bush wanted to go to war in Iraq from the very first days he was in office. Nothing was going to stop that."

Suskind also claims that after the invasion of March 2003 Habbush was paid £2.5 million for helping the Americans to justify the war by fabricating evidence to show that Saddam had links to international terrorism.

The Iraqi agreed to copy out the letter from a rough draft written for him on White House stationery. The note detailed a three-day Iraqi training programme which 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had supposedly taken part in early 2001.

Supposedly written by Habbush, it said Atta had “displayed extraordinary effort and showed a firm commitment to lead the team which will be responsible for attacking the targets we have agreed to destroy.”

The implication is that the "targets" were the buildings struck by the hijacked planes on 9/11.

The letter also hinted that Iraq was importing uranium from Niger as part of Saddam’s nuclear programme.

Suskind's suggestion is that Bush was so desperate to persuade an increasingly sceptical world public in the months after the invasion that Saddam was connected to the 9/11 outrage and was seeking nuclear weapons, that he authorised the faking of the letter.

"The White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001," Suskind wrote. "It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq thus showing, finally, that there was an operational link between Saddam and al-Qaida, something the vice president's office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq. There is no link."

Suskind said the letter's existence had been reported before - news of it was published in The Sunday Telegraph on the day Saddam was captured - and that it had been treated as if it were genuine.

Suskind argues that the “false pretenses” for war and the illegal White House use of the CIA constitutes an impeachable offence.

A White House spokesman last night attacked the author’s credibility. “Ron Suskind makes a living from gutter journalism. He is about selling books and making wild allegations that no one can verify," the spokesman said.

Former CIA director George Tenet also denied that anyone in the CIA had been involved in the forgery adding: “The CIA resisted efforts on the part of some in the administration to paint a picture of Iraqi-al Qaeda connections that went beyond the evidence.

“The notion that I would suddenly reverse our stance and have created and planted false evidence that was contrary to our own beliefs is ridiculous.”

08-10-2008, 11:46 PM
Many UK manufacturers face an 'uncomfortable' time, the CBI says.

UK economy 'worse than thought' (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7552336.stm)

The CBI, the UK's largest employers' organisation, has warned that the UK economy is deteriorating faster than it previously thought.

There was "no doubt that the mood has darkened in the last two or three months," its director general Richard Lambert warned members in a letter.

Forecasters, including the CBI, had been "over-optimistic" about the economic outlook, he added.

High inflation and slowing growth have prompted fears of a possible recession.

The level of inflation - which most analysts expect to surpass 4% when the July figures are released this week - had taken people "by surprise", Mr Lambert said in the letter, seen by the BBC.

And he added that the credit crunch had been "bigger and broader" than first expected.

"A year ago it seemed reasonable to hope that the worst would be over by now. That has not turned out to be the case."

Growth forecast cut

Economic activity is slowing in all key sectors of the economy, business confidence is waning and falling house prices and tight credit conditions have dented consumer spending.

"This is why most analysts are now suggesting that the economy will at best only manage to stagnate in the coming few quarters, and that the growth prospects through 2009 and into 2010 look no better than anaemic," Mr Lambert said.

The CBI earlier cut its forecast for growth in 2009 from 1% to 0.4%.

And last week the International Monetary Fund again revised down its forecast for UK economic growth this year and next year.

It now expects growth of 1.4% this year and 1.1% in 2009, although the government still expects the figures for both years to be 2% or above.


"The CBI, along with most other forecasters, has been consistently over-optimistic about the economic outlook over the last 12 months," Mr Lambert added.

He added that there were still many companies who were doing well - especially in the manufacturing of high value items.

But he conceded that it was going to be an "uncomfortable time" for many.

"A sharp economic slowdown is a new experience for many people in government and in business," he said.

08-10-2008, 11:48 PM

Cheney threatens Russia over Georgia (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=66235&sectionid=3510203)

US Vice President Dick Cheney has threatened Russia after the country was forced to reply Georgia's attack on South Ossetia's region.

In a phone conversation with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Sunday, Cheney said Russia's military actions in Georgia 'must not go unanswered'.

Continuation of Russian attack 'would have serious consequences for its relations with the United States, as well as the broader international community,' Cheney's press secretary, Lee Ann McBride, quoted him as telling Saakashvili.

"The vice president expressed the United States' solidarity with the Georgian people and their democratically elected government in the face of this threat to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity," McBride said.

Earlier, Chairman of Russia's State Duma Security Committee Vladimir Vasilyev announced that US helped Georgia start military operation in South Ossetia.

"The further the situation unfolds, the more the world will understand that Georgia would never be able to do all this without America," said Vasilyev.

Georgian military forces launched a large-scale military offensive against South Ossetia on Thursday evening hours before the start of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Russia, in response, moved its forces to the region.

The conflict has left at least 2000 people dead.

08-12-2008, 05:22 PM

Iran warns against 'surprise attack' (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=66379&sectionid=351020104)

Iran's Defense Minister Mohammad-Najjar has warned that its response to a surprise enemy attack would be a greater surprise for the aggressor.

He said Iran has developed an extensive defense force to repel any possible attack, adding the Islamic Republic is currently a major defensive power.

Najjar said the armed forces have mass-produced a range of advanced defensive equipment including a radar-evading warship and an unmanned mid-jet submarine as well as a high-tech naval weapons system capable of targeting any warship within a range of 300 kilometers from its shores.

He added that Iran's newly-developed strategic products have considerably increased the country's naval capabilities.

Najjar comments follow reports about an armada of US naval battle groups heading toward the Persian Gulf with the aim of reinforcing US strike forces in the region.

On Monday, DEBKAfiles, a source close to Israeli intelligence agency, reported that the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the USS Ronald Reagan, and the USS Iwo Jima are sailing toward the Persian Gulf accompanied by a British Royal Navy carrier battle group and a French nuclear hunter-killer submarine.

The deployment is believed to be the largest naval task force assembled by the United States and its allies in the region since the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

The move comes almost a week after Operation Brimstone, which was conducted by the US, British and French naval forces in the Atlantic Ocean. The 12 warships taking part in the war games were apparently, preparing for a possible attack against Iran.

Washington and its allies have threatened to take military action against Iran if it does not give up the right that international law has bestowed on all NPT signatories to enrichment uranium as part of a civilian nuclear program.

Tehran, however, has refused to give into pressure. In response to the threats, Iran has further enhanced its defensive power by conducting several maneuvers and testing new homemade weaponry.

“The maneuvers that have been carried out recently are held one after another to keep our armed forces prepared and strong. Fortunately, these exercises have shown our great defensive capabilities to the world,” concluded the Iranian defense minister.

08-12-2008, 06:38 PM
[Iran warns against 'surprise attack'

Yeah, I've been keeping an eye out on this issue too. Especially with that armada sailing over there during the Olympics...

08-13-2008, 11:00 PM

Israel: Iran war not okayed by US (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=66457&sectionid=351020101)

Israel's defense minister says the regime has not received approval from the US to carry out a strike against Iran's nuclear sites.

"The Americans are not ready to allow us to attack Iran," Ehud Barak told army radio on Wednesday.

"Our position is that no option is to be taken off the table but in the meantime we have to make diplomatic progress," he added.

Israel, which is widely believed to have over 200 ready-to-use atomic warheads, says Iran's nuclear program is a main strategic threat, although the UN nuclear watchdog has confirmed that Tehran's uranium enrichment activities are within the limits of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Barak's comments follow reports about an armada of US naval battle groups heading toward the Persian Gulf with the aim of reinforcing US strike forces in the region.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt, the USS Ronald Reagan, and the USS Iwo Jima are sailing toward the Persian Gulf accompanied by the British Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal and the French nuclear hunter-killer submarine Ametlyste.

The deployment comes almost a week after Operation Brimstone, which was conducted by the US, British and French naval forces in the Atlantic Ocean. Apparently, the 12 warships taking part in the war games were preparing for a possible confrontation with Iran.

Iran has reacted to threats of a military strike by enhancing its defense capabilities, conducting several maneuvers, and testing new homemade weaponry.

Tehran has also pledged to give the 'maximum response' to any threat against the country's security.

On Tuesday, Iran's Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar warned that Tehran's response to a surprise enemy attack would turn into a greater surprise for the aggressor.

08-14-2008, 06:31 PM
The use of VeriChip was approved in 2004.

VeriChip And Remote-Controlled Societies (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=66397&sectionid=3510303)

Despite efforts by proponents of implantable identification microchips to popularize them, most Americans are strongly against the use of VeriChip.

In 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted clearance for VeriChip, an identification system using implantable Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, consisting of a handheld reader, a microchip approximately the size of a grain of rice (containing a unique 16-digit ID number), which is implanted in the right arm, and a database.

VeriChip Corporation, the producer of the microchips, considers them as a fast and secure way of accessing medical information for thousands of patients brought in emergency departments either unconscious or unable to communicate due to medical conditions.

The US and certain other countries are currently implanting these microchips in the body of infants. There has also been talk of replacing ID and credit cards with VeriChip.

However, there has been widespread opposition to the product as these microchips not only allow authorities to control ones private life, but there is also the danger of hackers getting their hands on personal information.

On the other hand, the VeriChip seems to have been only a means of distracting the public from a far more sophisticated project, conducted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) -- the central research and development organization for the US Defense Department.

DARPA has been investing in a new implantable chip called Multiple Micro Electrode Array (MMEA); a chip which is surgically implanted directly into a human nerve or into specific area of the brain and connects the brain to a computer.

While the medical advantages of these implantable microchips cannot be denied, a grain of rice in the right arm may prove to be much more decisive.

Perhaps the Wachowski brothers were right about a computer-controlled world of the future.

08-14-2008, 08:27 PM
^^^^^ Let another major terrorist attack happen they will FORCE people to take them.

08-14-2008, 11:18 PM

Water prices leap up to 25 per cent by 2015 (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2008/08/12/water-prices-leap-up-to-25-per-cent-by-2015-115875-20694160/)

Water firms want to raise their prices by up to 25 per cent above the rate of inflation, it was revealed yesterday.

Draft business plans suggest that over a five-year period many intend to raise their prices in real terms every 12 months for millions of families.

The companies submitted their figures for 2009-10 to 2014-15 to regulator Ofwat and yesterday it became clear that consumers face soaring bills.

If approved, water prices across the country would go up by an average of 8.9 per cent in real terms, which works out at £16.60.

But that masks some shocking proposed increases - such as in the Bristol and Sutton and East Surrey regions, which could face 26.4 per cent and 25.8 per cent rises above inflation over five years.

The plans will stun families across the country who in February learned water bills will increase by an average 5.8 per cent this year, with some hit by eight per cent rises.

The UK's largest water and wastewater services company, Thames Water, announced it expects to raise bills by around three per cent, excluding inflation, each year between 2010 and 2015.

The Consumer Council for Water warned that meant an increase of 16 per cent above inflation by 2015. Its chairman David Bland said: "High price increases and more water meters, combined with rising energy bills, could hurt many households. The Government needs to consider ways to help those who cannot afford to pay for their water."

United Utilities, which manages water and wastewater distribution in the North West of England, said customers were set to see average bills increase in real terms by more than two per cent a year.

Severn Trent, which has eight million customers, said bills would rise "only slightly above inflation".

Thames Water and United Utilities revealed the bill increases as they outlined aims for multi-billion pound investments in water and sewerage services as well as cost-cutting schemes to drive efficiency.

Thames Water chief executive David Owens claimed: "Thames customers have enjoyed the lowest bills in the industry for many years, but we now need to make essential investment to secure their services for the future."



08-15-2008, 03:29 PM
Scanned: 39,095 uncharged ten to 17-year-olds

Government admits national DNA database holds records of 40,000 INNOCENT children (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1045664/Government-admits-national-DNA-database-holds-records-40-000-INNOCENT-children.html)

Nearly 40,000 innocent children have been placed on the Government's enormous DNA database for life, ministers admitted tonight.

The number of 10 to 17-year-olds who have done nothing wrong yet have had their genetic profiles seized by police has soared by 60 per cent in two years.

It will fuel mounting fears that forces are arresting youngsters who have committed no crime simply to build up their DNA database by 'stealth'.

The sheer scale of the DNA-gathering operation, revealed by Home Office minister Meg Hillier, bolstered widespread alarm.

She revealed there were 303,393 children on the database, which can be checked against any crime scene.

Of these, 39,095 - or 12.8 per cent - had 'not been convicted, cautioned, received a final warning or reprimand and had no charge pending against them'.

The controversial figures, slipped out in a written Parliamentary answer, sparked a torrent of criticism.

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: 'This is yet more evidence that the DNA database is totally arbitrary with tens of thousands of innocent kids on it but not every offender in our prisons.'

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said it was wrong to store the DNA of innocent people and argued there were serious shortcomings when it came to convicted criminals.

He said: 'These startling figures show that the Government is building a national DNA database by stealth.

'There can be no excuse for storing the DNA of innocent adults, let alone children, who are entirely blameless.

'This is an intrusive policy that gives far too much sensitive information to the state, when we know that ministers cannot be trusted with its security.

'The DNA that should be on the database is that of past offenders, yet when it comes to them, there are major gaps in the database.'

Since April 2004, anyone aged ten or above who is arrested in England or Wales can have their DNA and fingerprints taken without their consent, or that of their parents.

The DNA samples - plus the computerised profiles - are kept permanently, even if the person arrested is never charged or is acquitted. A minuscule amount are ever destroyed.

Britain has the world's largest DNA database, with 4.5 million genetic fingerprints on record. Up to 1.5 million - one-third - are from innocent people.

Criminologists have warned that, in order to make policing simpler, officers are targeting for arrest those they see as potential troublemakers.

By making arrests for a minor offence such as criminal damage, they can take the DNA of a group of youngsters at the same time.

But those who have had their DNA taken include two schoolgirls charged with criminal damage after drawing chalk on a pavement and a child in Kent who removed a slice of cucumber from a tuna mayonnaise sandwich and threw it at another youngster.

Last month a Government-appointed advisory body, the Ethics Group, said samples obtained from innocent people during police investigations should be destroyed at its conclusion.

08-23-2008, 05:10 PM
Texas Truant Students To Be Tracked By GPS Anklets (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080823/ap_on_re_us/gps_monitoring_truants)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Court authorities here will be able to track students with a history of skipping school under a new program requiring them to wear ankle bracelets with Global Positioning System monitoring.

But at least one group is worried the ankle bracelets will infringe on students' privacy.

Linda Penn, a Bexar County justice of the peace, said she anticipates that about 50 students from four San Antonio-area school districts — likely to be mostly high schoolers — will wear the anklets during the six-month pilot program announced Friday. She said the time the students wear the anklets will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

"We are at a critical point in our time where we can either educate or incarcerate," Penn said, linking truancy with juvenile delinquency and later criminal activity. "We can teach them now or run the risk of possible incarceration later on in life. I don't want to see the latter."

Penn said students in the program will wear the ankle bracelets full-time and will not be able to remove them. They'll be selected as they come through her court, and Penn will target truant students with gang affiliations, those with a history of running away and skipping school and those who have been through her court multiple times.

"Students and parents must understand that attending school is not optional," Penn said. "When they fail to attend school, they are breaking the law."

Penn said the electronic monitoring is part of a comprehensive program she started four years ago to reduce truancy. She cited programs in Midland and Dallas as having success with similar electronic monitoring measures.

But Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said requiring students to wear the GPS bracelets full-time raises privacy concerns.

"We're all for keeping kids in school, and we applaud any efforts to make that happen," Burke said. "But the privacy issue: What happens with the bracelet or anklet after school is out? Is that appropriate for the school or courts to know where and what this person is doing outside of school?"

Asked why the students have to wear the ankle bracelet all the time instead of just the school day, Penn cited problems with runaways.

"Sometimes, as I said, students are runaways. Parents don't know where they are," Penn said. "So it's for the safety of the child, as well as the safety of the community."

Burke said truant students and runaway kids are different issues.

Asked specifically about privacy concerns, Penn said she didn't have a comment. But, she added, her priority is "looking for the good of making these children accountable ... it's for the concern of these children getting an education."

08-29-2008, 09:57 PM

MI5 Criticised For Role In Case Of Tortute, Rendition And Secrecy (http://www.guardian.co.uk:80/uk/2008/aug/22/uksecurity.guantanamo)

MI5 participated in the unlawful interrogation of a British resident now held in Guantánamo Bay, the high court found yesterday in a judgment raising serious questions about the conduct of Britain's security and intelligence agencies.

One MI5 officer was so concerned about incriminating himself that he initially declined to answer questions from the judges even in private, the judgment reveals. Though the judges say "no adverse conclusions" should be drawn by the MI5 officer's plea against self-incrimination, they disclose that the officer, Witness B, was questioned about alleged war crimes under the international criminal court act, including torture. The full evidence surrounding Witness B's evidence, and the judges' findings, remain secret.

The MI5 officer interrogated the British resident, Binyam Mohamed, while he was being held in Pakistan in 2002. Mohamed, 30, an Ethiopian national, was later secretly rendered to Morocco, where he says was tortured by having his penis cut with a razor blade. The US subsequently flew him to Afghanistan and he was transferred to Guantánamo Bay in September 2004 where he remains.

In a passage which appears to contradict previous assurances by MI5, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones concluded: "The conduct of the security service facilitated interviews by or on behalf of the United States when [Mohamed] was being detained by the United States incommunicado and without access to a lawyer." They added: "Under the law of Pakistan, that detention was unlawful."

Asked last month about unrelated allegations involving detainees held in Pakistan, the Home Office said on behalf of MI5: "All security service staff have an awareness of the Human Rights Act 1998, and are fully committed to complying with the requirements of the law when working in the UK and overseas."

It added that the security and intelligence agencies "do not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment".

In their ruling yesterday, the judges found that MI5 "continued to facilitate" the interviewing of Mohamed at the behest of the US even after he was secretly flown out of Pakistan. It did so, they said, by providing information to America although its officers "must also have appreciated" he was being detained and questioned in a facility which was "that of a foreign government". That government is believed to be Morocco.

The judgment contains two particularly stinging passages. The judges said Witness B worked with the US "to the extent of making it clear to [Mohamed] that the United Kingdom government would not help [him] unless he cooperated fully with the United States authorities". They added: "The relationship of the United Kingdom government to the United States authorities in connection with [Mohamed] was far beyond that of a bystander or witness to the alleged wrongdoing."

Mohamed is due to be tried for terrorist offences before a US military commission in Guantánamo Bay as a result of confessions he says were extracted by torture. He faces the death penalty if found guilty. Without information held by the British government, he could not have a fair trial "as he will not be able to try to establish the only answer he has to the confessions - namely that they were involuntary and abstracted from him by wrongful treatment", the judges said.

Richard Stein, of Leigh Day, Mohamed's lawyer, said outside the court that the government was clearly committed to a fair trial and opposed to the practices of torture and extraordinary rendition. He added: "However, unfortunately when faced with the choice between the rule of law and upsetting its allies the Americans, it waivers in this commitment".

David Miliband, the foreign secretary, has provided the US with documents about the case, though the US has so far refused to release them. Miliband has declined to release further evidence about the case on grounds of national security, arguing that disclosure would harm Britain's intelligence relationship with the US.

The judges will decide which documents about the case must be released after a private court hearing next week.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the implications of the judgment were being considered very carefully. He added: "For strong reasons of national security, to which the court accepted we were entitled to give the highest weight, we could not agree to disclose this information voluntarily."

Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve, the legal rights group also defending Mohamed, said: "The British government may have been accused of being Bush's poodle, but the British courts remain bulldogs when it comes to human rights."

Senior security sources said last night that the judgment was being carefully looked at to see whether changes should be made in MI5's procedures.

They added that the court recognised that Mohamed in 2002 was regarded as someone potentially significant. "Talking to people who could provide life-saving intelligence is MI5's bread and butter," they said.

09-05-2008, 10:32 PM
Study: Respiratory Problems Still Persist For 9/11 Workers (http://www.ny1.com/content/top_stories/85483/study--respiratory-problems-still-persist-for-9-11-workers/Default.aspx)

The city's annual report on the health of rescue workers at the World Trade Center site and nearby residents released Thursday reveals that seven years after the terror attacks, New Yorkers continue to suffer from 9/11-related health conditions.

"Nine-eleven is still with many New Yorkers. One of the things that we found is that the findings across different studies and different groups have been remarkably similar in their outcome," said Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden.

The World Trade Center Medical Working Group, a group of medical and health experts appointed by the mayor last year, reviewed more than 100 scientific articles published since 2001 on the health of those affected by 9/11.

The study's key findings indicate respiratory diseases have persisted for 25 percent of firefighters, two to four years after 9/11.

Asthma is a common issue for many Lower Manhattan residents, as are mental health problems, like post-traumatic stress disorder. Substance abuse and depression have not been fully examined by the report.

The report calls for action, expanding research on WTC-related conditions, and determining whether cancer rates and other potentially terminal illnesses are elevated in New York City.

"We don't know if these diseases will emerge; we do know that we should be alert to the potential for their occurrence," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The report also calls for the re-opening of the federal victim compensation fund and for increased long-term funding from the federal government for treatment and monitoring – something those who suffer from 9/11-related issues say is mandatory.

"People are having cancers now, people are getting sick, they need the medical coverage, and the government seems to be turning their back on them, and I don't think that's the right thing to do," said Retired FDNY Chief Jimmy Riches.

The city is also reaching out to more people exposed to the attacks who may not have 9/11-related problems, but who may not yet have sought treatment – a population the report says that could be in the hundreds of thousands. The tagline of this campaign is: Live There, Work There, You Deserve Care.

"We think that most people had symptoms early on and many of them may have gotten better," said World Trade Center Environmental Health Center Dr. Joan Reibman. "Some of them may actually have then re-occured. We think that some people also may have developed symptoms over the subsequent few years."

The city is encouraging anyone who thinks they may be suffering to call 311 for help.

09-13-2008, 01:17 PM
Gordon Brown smiles as he signs the Lisbon Treaty

EU begins secret drive to force Ireland to vote again on rejected Lisbon Treaty (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1054732/EU-begins-secret-drive-force-Ireland-vote-rejected-Lisbon-Treaty.html)

A secret European Union plan to force Ireland to vote again on the Lisbon Treaty emerged yesterday.

French officials have penned an explosive document entitled 'Solution to the Irish Problem', in which they say the EU should push Ireland into re-running its referendum next year, opening the way for the treaty to come into force next year.

In return, Europe would offer Dublin a few promises, in a bid to ensure its people vote in favour of the treaty.

Critics say it is almost identical to the EU Constitution, rejected by the French and the Dutch in 2005.

Labour promised British voters a referendum on the constitution - but then reneged on their promise when it was re-fashioned as a treaty.

Ireland's support is vital because the Lisbon Treaty cannot come into force across the EU until all 27 countries have ratified it. Ireland was the only country which gave its voters a referendum.

The leaked document predicts that Ireland will cave in at a meeting of Europe's leaders next month, and agree to hold a second referendum next Autumn.

In return, the EU will guarantee that Ireland will not lose its own EU commissioner, and will make 'declarations' that Ireland's neutrality and stance on abortion will not be affected by the treaty.

The 'no' campaign claimed during the referendum campaign that Ireland's outlawing of abortion, unless the mother's life is in danger, was under threat if the treaty was passed.

The document says there will be 'a political declaration confirming that the Treaty of Lisbon does not jeopardise Irish neutrality, or the rule of unanimity on tax matters and will not oblige Ireland to modify its position on abortion.'

It adds: 'The second Irish referendum could take place, on this basis, during Autumn 2009, pushing back the coming into force of the Treaty of Lisbon until 2010.'

It was written by a senior EU official based in Paris who is a member of a group called Friends of the Lisbon Treaty.

The treaty creates an EU president, a foreign minister and establishes and EU diplomatic service. Britain went ahead with ratification, despite its rejection by Irish voters.

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said: 'It cannot be right for the Irish to be made to vote twice on the renamed EU constitution before the British people are allowed to vote once.

'Gordon Brown has cheated British voters of their say, By denying people any decision on this treaty he is actually undermining the EU's own democratic legitimacy. The least he can do now is make it absolutely clear that there must be no bullying of Ireland to get them to vote again.

'The right response to the Irish "no" vote is to abandon the Lisbon treaty altogether and call a total halt to the centralisation of power in Brussels.'

Neil O'Brien, of Eurosceptic think-tank Open Europe, said: 'The EU simply won’t take no for answer. They will make Ireland vote again and again until they are bullied into coming up with the so-called "right" answer.

'The British Government should be ashamed of itself for being part of the attempt to bully and isolate the Irish. The polls show that people in most other countries would say to the EU Treaty too. That’s why Gordon Brown is terrified of allowing us to have the vote on Europe which he promised at the last election.'

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said: 'It's deja vu all over again. In Europe, yes means yes and no means: "We'll do it again later".'

09-18-2008, 05:30 PM
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09-20-2008, 10:58 AM

'US seeks secret bases in Iraq' (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=70001&sectionid=351020201)

Former Iraqi Deputy Premier Ahmad Chalabi says the United States is seeking to establish secret military bases in the oil-rich country.

In an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency, Chalabi said within the framework of the controversial security deal, US officials are trying to open secret military bases in Iraq.

"Within the framework of the security pact, the United States does not wish to merely have open military bases (in Iraq), rather secret military bases (there)," he said.

Washington currently is trying to persuade Baghdad to sign a controversial Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to give legal basis to its military in Iraq after December 31 when the UN mandate defining its status expires.

Referring to the recent US-Russia row over Georgia, Chalabi said that heightened diplomatic tensions between the Washington and Moscow made securing the deal a top priority for US officials.

"If a security deal is not signed … by Dec. 31, regarding the recent US-Russia row over Georgia and the Iraqi government's decision not to extend the US forces' presence in Iraq for another year, the US presence in Iraq will become illegal," he said.

Under the current provisions of the agreement, Baghdad would be required to allow American military bases in the country and immunity from prosecution for all US personnel.

The deal however has been opposed by Iraqi from all walks of life including political and religious leaders as well as parliamentarians. The critics of the deal say it would turn the country into a US colony.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said on Thursday that there were very serious and dangerous obstacles to the deal.

"If they (US negotiators) meet our demand quickly, the deal will be signed soon, but if they refuse our demands, it will face obstacles and could lead to new negotiations," the Prime Minister said.

Press TV correspondent in Iraq, Wisam al-bayat, said the issue of granting immunity to American soldiers, a timetable for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and the number of US bases in the war-torn country could be among the serious obstacles.

One day after al-Maliki's remarks, US forces in a pre-down air strike in Iraq's northern city of Tikrit, killed eight Iraqi civilians, all members of a family.

09-25-2008, 07:01 PM

Foreign National ID Card Unveiled (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7634111.stm)

The first identity cards from the government's controversial national scheme have been unveiled.

The biometric card will be issued from November, initially to non-EU students and marriage visa holders.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the cards would allow people to "easily and securely prove their identity".

Critics say the roll-out to some immigrants is a "softening up" exercise for the introduction of identity cards for everyone.

The card will also include information on holders' immigration status.

"We want to be able to prevent those here illegally from benefiting from the privileges of Britain," she said.

Employers and colleges want to be confident people are who they say they are, she said, and immigration and police officers want to verify identity and detect abuse.

"We all want to see our borders more secure, and human trafficking, organised immigration crime, illegal working and benefit fraud tackled. ID cards for foreign nationals, in locking people to one identity, will deliver in all these areas," she added.

The UK Border Agency will begin issuing the biometric cards to the two categories of foreign nationals who officials say are most at risk of abusing immigration rules - students and those on a marriage or civil partnership visa.

Both types of migrants will be told they must have the new card when they ask to extend their stay in the country.

The cards partly replace a paper-based system of immigration stamps - but will now include the individual's name and picture, their nationality, immigration status and two fingerprints.

Immigration officials will store the details centrally and, in time, they are expected to be merged into the proposed national identity register.

The card cannot be issued to people from most parts of Europe because they have the right to move freely in and out of the UK.

The Conservatives oppose the UK's identity card scheme but say they support the use of biometric information in immigration documents.

"The Government are kidding themselves if they think ID cards for foreign nationals will protect against illegal immigration or terrorism - since they don't apply to those coming here for less than three months," said shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve.

Liberal Democrat shadow home secretary Chris Huhne said identity cards "remained a grotesque intrusion on the liberty of the British people" and the scheme "will prove to be a laminated Poll Tax".

"The government is using vulnerable members of our society, like foreign nationals who do not have the vote, as guinea pigs for a deeply unpopular and unworkable policy," he said.

SNP Home Affairs spokesman Pete Wishart MP said his party had opposed ID cards from the outset but the government's "abysmal record on data protection" was reason enough to cancel them.

He said the government looked "absurd" for pushing ahead with such a costly project.

"These cards will not make our communities more secure, they will not reduce the terrorist threat and they will not make public services more efficient," said Mr Wishart.

Phil Booth, head of the national No2ID campaign group, attacked the roll-out of the cards as a "softening-up exercise".

"The Home Office is trying to salami slice the population to get this scheme going in any way they can," Mr Booth told the BBC.

"Once they get some people to take the card it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"The volume of foreign nationals involved is minuscule so it won't do anything to tackle illegal immigration."

But Sir Andrew Green of Migrationwatch UK said the cards should be supported.

"We welcome the introduction of ID cards for foreign nationals as part of wider measures to tackle illegal immigration," he said. "These reforms are essential if we are to restore order to our immigration system as the public certainly wish to see."

09-27-2008, 04:21 PM
Chinese regulator says US lending was 'ridiculous' (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080927/ap_on_re_as/as_china_us_credit_crisis;_ylt=ArBy0B5LWCaPGB5M3bp zEXkBxg8F)

TIANJIN, China - U.S. lending standards before the global credit crisis were "ridiculous" and the world can learn from China's more cautious system as it considers financial reforms, the top Chinese bank regulator said Saturday at an economic forum.

The global financial crisis was a hot topic at the World Economic Forum — the Chinese leg of the forum based in Davos, Switzerland. Despite the global turmoil, China's Premier Wen Jiabao said China still has "huge potential for growth" because of its large labor pool, vast domestic market and the improved competitiveness of its companies.

Wen gave no growth forecast. But China's bank regulator said the annual growth rate should fall from last year's 11.9 percent to between 9 percent and 9.5 percent.

Liu Mingkang, chairman of the Chinese Banking Regulatory Commission, said his country's prudent approach to banking had enabled the country to avoid the credit crunch so far.

Beijing curbed mortgage lending in 2003 and 2006 to keep debt manageable amid a real estate boom, while American regulators responded to a similar situation by letting credit grow, Liu said.

"When U.S. regulators were reducing the down payment to zero, or they created so-called 'reverse mortgages,' we thought that was ridiculous," Liu said at a World Economic Forum conference in the eastern Chinese city of Tianjin.

He said debt in the United States and elsewhere rose to "dangerous and indefensible" levels.

Liu's comments were unusually pointed criticism of U.S. financial regulation for a Chinese official. They added to suggestions by countries that are under U.S. pressure to liberalize their financial markets that Washington's model might not be ideal.

China has based its reforms on the U.S. system but has moved gradually. It has kept its financial markets isolated from global capital flows, prompting complaints by its trading partners.

As China made changes, "a lot of the time, we learned that what we had learned from our teacher the day before was wrong," Liu said, referring to the U.S.

China's state-owned banks have avoided the turmoil roiling Western markets. Chinese banks hold bonds from failed Wall Street house Lehman Brothers, but they are a tiny fraction of their vast assets.

Liu called for governments to create international standards and regulatory systems for globalized financial markets. He said Beijing has signed information-exchange agreements on financial regulation with 32 other countries since the turmoil began.

Liu pointed to China's experience with real estate and the collapse of a stock market boom.

As stock prices in China soared, banks were ordered to make sure customers were not using loans or credit cards to finance speculation. As a result, Liu said banks have suffered no rise in loan defaults even though stock prices have plummeted 63 percent since the October 2007 peak.

"We Chinese can share our own experiences with all the market practitioners," Liu said. "Maybe our experience cannot be applicable to developed markets fully. But still, I think it might be useful and helpful to those in emerging markets."

Chinese and foreign businesspeople at the forum said the credit crisis is likely to increase the influence of China and other emerging economies in the world financial system, though Wall Street will retain its leading role.

The crisis is also likely to reduce resistance in the West to investments by government funds as companies urgently seek capital, said Thomas Enders, CEO of the European aircraft producer Airbus Industrie.

However, European Union trade commissioner Peter Mandelson defended the global capital markets structure, warning that drastic change might hurt prosperity.

"The capital market system, fundamentally, is not flawed," Mandelson said. "We are not looking for some alternative, and I hope that people in the emerging markets, in China for example, are not looking for an alternative to properly functioning capital markets."

10-03-2008, 08:43 PM
Rep. Burgess: Congress under Martial Law to pass banker bailout bill (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oxIsniQ9V4)

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10-03-2008, 10:12 PM
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The North American Union and the Amero (or some form of it) WILL happen. They are just keeping it quiet until after the elections. The new President will not be President of the USA, but of this new Union.

10-05-2008, 02:45 PM
Government Will Spy On Every Call And E-Mail (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4882600.ece)

Ministers are considering spending up to £12 billion on a database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain.

GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre, has already been given up to £1 billion to finance the first stage of the project.

Hundreds of clandestine probes will be installed to monitor customers live on two of the country’s biggest internet and mobile phone providers - thought to be BT and Vodafone. BT has nearly 5m internet customers.

Ministers are braced for a backlash similar to the one caused by their ID cards programme. Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said: “Any suggestion of the government using existing powers to intercept communications data without public discussion is going to sound extremely sinister.”

MI5 currently conducts limited e-mail and website intercepts which are approved under specific warrants by the home secretary.

Further details of the new plan will be unveiled next month in the Queen’s speech.

The Home Office stressed no formal decision had been taken but sources said officials had made clear that ministers had agreed “in principle” to the programme.

Officials claim live monitoring is necessary to fight terrorism and crime. However, critics question whether such a vast system can be kept secure. A total of 57 billion text messages were sent in the UK last year - 1,800 every second.

10-12-2008, 03:04 PM
Orwellian U.K. Angers People With Tree Cameras, Snooping Kids (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=a42059fKpkSM&refer=europe)

Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Hidden in foliage next to a path in the southeast England seaside town of Hastings are digital cameras. Their target: litterbugs and dog walkers.

The electronic eyes feed images to a monitoring unit, where they're scanned and stored as evidence to prosecute people who discard garbage or fail to clean up after pets, a spokeswoman for the town council said.

"It's becoming a bit Big Brother-like,'' said Sandra Roberts, 50, a Hastings kiosk manager, invoking George Orwell's 1949 book "Nineteen Eighty-Four,'' about a Britain where authorities pry into all aspects of citizens' lives.

Local authorities are adopting phone-record logging, e-mail taps and camera surveillance to police such offenses as welfare fraud, unlawful dumping of waste and sick-day fakery. Telecommunications companies are about to join the list of crime monitors. Already, 4.5 million closed-circuit cameras watch public places across Britain, or about 1 camera for every 15 people, the highest ratio in the world.

"There's too much of it now, all this spying,'' said Ivor Quittention, 80, a retired owner of three hardware stores who lives in Hastings. The town's spokeswoman, who declined to be identified, said spying is the most effective way of dealing with something residents complain about most.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, dubbed "the snoopers charter'' by London-based civil-rights group Liberty, was passed by the ruling Labour Party in 2000 to legislate methods of surveillance and information gathering. The purpose of the law, known also as Ripa, was to help prevent crime, including terrorism, according to the Home Office.

'Too Much Power'

Initially, only security and intelligence services could invoke the Act's provisions. In 2003, Parliament extended powers to the 474 local councils in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as to 318 other state bodies, including 11 Royal Parks, the Post Office and Chief Inspector of Schools.

Since then, local authorities have been expanding their use of the provisions to dozens of lesser offenses.

The law has loopholes and councils like Hastings aren't doing anything wrong when they invoke it for minor crimes, according to Gus Hosein, a professor from the London School of Economics specializing in technology and privacy.

"Ripa just gives too much power to any Tom, Dick or Harry related to government,'' he said.

The latest proposed expansion of the Act requires telecommunications providers to store the text of all e-mails and details of all phone calls transmitted over their lines.

The government is seeking the views of the public on the proposal until Oct. 31. The bill will then go to Parliament for consideration.


Of the 163 U.K. councils that replied to calls and Freedom of Information requests from Bloomberg, 95 percent said they use Ripa. Nine said they don't, including Barnet, Basingstoke and Deane, Broadland, Halton, Harrogate, Shepway, West Devon, Slough and the Shetlands, a group of islands off Scotland where sheep outnumber people. Three declined to provide details without payment of an administrative fee.

East Hampshire, in south England, applied the law to catch vandals defacing tombstones. Derby, in northern England, invoked it to send children with recording gear into shops to see if they'd unlawfully be sold cigarettes and alcohol.

"It's unreal,'' said Dean Price, 24, a graphic designer in London. "We've been sleep-walking into this. Everyone talks about Orwell and 1984 but no one ever does anything about it.''

A spokesman for the Home Office, which oversees Ripa, said the extension is vital to intelligence gathering and will help investigators identify suspects, track them and examine their contacts. He declined to be identified, in line with policy.

Petty Offenses

The Association of Local Government, which represents councils, said through a statement by outgoing Chairman Simon Milton that the "crime-busting powers'' are an essential tool in gathering evidence needed to stop criminal activity.

At the same time, Milton said he wrote to all councils in June asking them not to invoke the law for petty offenses.

"It's ironic that a nation that was once a bastion of privacy, one in which `an Englishman's home is his castle' and that did away with National ID Cards in 1952, is now one of the most surveilled in the world,'' said Toby Stevens, founder of London's Enterprise Privacy Group.

The opposition Conservative Party is against Ripa in its current form and will amend it if it wins the next election, due by 2010, home affairs spokesman Dominic Grieve said.

Mark Jewell, a councilman for the U.K.'s third party, the Liberal Democrats, said more checks and balances are needed to ensure Ripa isn't abused. "At the moment, you don't need to have done anything wrong to get snooped on,'' he said. No other European Union government has similar regulations.

'Hugely Disproportionate'

Among councils which responded to Bloomberg's questions, those in northern England, Wales and Scotland used the law more than those in the south. Durham, in northeast England, was the biggest user, invoking the provisions 144 times in the past year, as authorities cracked down on offenses including fraud.

In April, council workers spent two weeks tailing a couple in Poole, southeast England, they wrongly suspected were planning to send their daughter to a school outside their designated area. Tim Joyce and Jenny Paton called the intrusion into their lives "hugely disproportionate.''

In August, Paul Griffiths was taken to court and fined 1,000 pounds for allowing his dog to foul grass outside his home in Bristol. Griffiths said he's innocent and his pet had only been urinating when she was spotted on camera.

Brian Clements, a 79-year-old retired teacher from Clacton- on-Sea, south England, said the measures are "like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut.''

"Wouldn't the Gestapo have loved all those little cameras,'' he said.

10-13-2008, 09:23 PM
THE DEATH OF CANADA: POLICE STATE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PR4w6u-x9uk)

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10-16-2008, 03:25 PM
Stope is said to have been a supporter of Adolf Hitler

Royal Mail criticised for stamp honouring 'racist' Marie Stopes (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/3194345/Royal-Mail-criticised-for-stamp-honouring-racist-Marie-Stopes.html)

Royal Mail has been criticised for releasing a stamp honouring Marie Stopes, the birth control pioneer who is accused of being a racist and a Nazi sympathiser.

Stopes, who is best known for opening Britain's first family planning clinic in 1921, will feature on the new 50p stamp as part of a commemorative series celebrating women of achievement.

Others honoured with black and white photographs in the new release include the Labour cabinet minister Barbara Castle, for her work promoting equal pay, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first British woman to qualify as a doctor, and her sister the women's rights campaigner Millicent Garrett Fawcett.

To her supporters Stopes, who has a sexual health charity now working in 40 countries named after her, helped liberate women and transform society with her campaigning in favour of family planning.

But Stopes, who died in 1958, was also a supporter of eugenics, the pseudo-scientific theories which promoted sterilisation of diseased or weak people to "perfect" the race, which was openly promoted by the Nazis in Germany.

She is also said to have been a supporter of Adolf Hitler, even sending a book of her poems to the Nazi dictator on the eve of the Second World War, enclosed with a warm letter declaring: "Dear Herr Hitler, Love is the greatest thing in the world."

In 1935 she attended a conference in Berlin to promote "population science".

She openly advocated sterilisation of those deemed "unfit for parenthood" including those who were ill or suffered alcohol problems as early as 1919. She called for this to be compulsory in her book Radiant Motherhood.

Last month Father Ray Blake, priest of the Catholic church of St Mary Magdalen in Brighton, announced that any letters arriving at the parish bearing stamps commemorating Stopes would be returned to sender. He called on others, including Jewish groups, to follow suit.

The move was also criticised by the Rev Peter Mullen who said: "She campaigned to have the poor, the sick and people of mixed race sterilised."

Juliette Edgar, head of special stamps at the Royal Mail, said: "These stamps commemorate six unique individuals whose dedicated work not only changed the lives of other women, but society as a whole."

10-19-2008, 05:45 PM
EBC's Nowotny Sees Global 'Tri-Polar' Currency System Evolving (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=apjqJKKQvfDc&refer=home)

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- European Central Bank council member Ewald Nowotny said a “tri-polar” global currency system is developing between Asia, Europe and the U.S. and that he's skeptical the U.S. dollar's centrality can be revived.

“What I see is a system where we have more centers of gravity” Nowotny said today in an interview with Austrian state broadcaster ORF-TV. “I see for the future a tri-polar development, and I don't think that there will be fixed exchange rates between these poles.''

The leaders of the U.S., France and the European Commission will ask other world leaders to join in a series of summits on the global financial crisis beginning in the U.S. soon after the Nov. 4 presidential election, President George W. Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Barroso said in a joint statement yesterday.

Nowotny said he was “skeptical” when asked whether the Bretton Woods System of monetary policy, set up after World War II and revised in 1971, could be revived to aid global currency stability. The U.S. meeting should aim to strengthen financial regulation, define bank capital ratios and review the role of debt-rating agencies.

European leaders have pressed to convene an emergency meeting of the world's richest nations, known as the Group of Eight, joined by others such as India and China, to overhaul the world's financial regulatory systems. The meetings are to include developed economies as well as developing nations.

’Real Economy’

Bush, 62, has cautioned that any revamping must not restrict the flow of trade and investment or set a path toward protectionism. The G8 nations are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States. The U.S. hasn't committed itself to the sweeping terms of Europe's agenda, White House press secretary Dana Perino said yesterday.

Sarkozy wants the G8 to consider re-anchoring their currencies, the hallmark of the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement that also gave birth to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

The current financial crisis, in which European governments have pledged at least 1.3 trillion euros ($1.7 trillion) to guarantee loans and take stakes in lenders, should be “under control” by mid-2009, Nowotny said. The economy will suffer longer.

“What comes then, unfortunately in parallel, will be the problems for the real economy,'' Nowotny said. “The growth rate in 2009 will be significantly below what we have in 2008.''

He predicted gross domestic product growth around 1 percent in Austria next year.

10-24-2008, 05:48 PM
CNBC SPEAK OF ILLUMINATI AND STOCK MARKETS (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rBX3iTzyh0)

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11-01-2008, 04:47 PM
Nursery chain to launch fingerprint scanners to check parents before they are allowed to collect their children (http://www.dailymail.co.uk:80/sciencetech/article-1081382/Nursery-chain-launch-fingerprint-scanners-check-parents-allowed-collect-children.html)

A chain of nurseries is to require parents to use fingerprint scanners before collecting their children, it emerged yesterday.

Fifty nurseries run by kidsunlimited, a national group catering for children aged three months to five years, will phase in the technology over the next few months.

Six, including those in Cambridgeshire, Wilmslow in Cheshire and Notting Hill, West London, already operate the system. At least 100 other private or voluntary nurseries are already thought to be using scanners.

Lee Pearson, kidsunlimited chief executive, said: 'We aim to remain at the forefront of innovative childcare and to challenge traditional views of the sector.'

Manufacturer Honeycomb Solutions claims fingerprint security systems will be 'commonplace' in private schools and nurseries within five years.

But critics have condemned the increase in surveillance society. Parents, carers or guardians will register a fingerprint in advance and then swipe a scanner on entering and leaving the nursery.

Head office staff will use the systems to monitor who is on their premises and as an additional check that correct staff-child ratios are maintained at all times.

Honeycomb Solutions managing director George Bathurst said the system should replace key fob recognition and access-coded doors. 'The system gives children a safe environment,' he said.

11-08-2008, 11:58 AM
Russia president tells police to crush crisis unrest (w.forexyard.com/reuters/popup_reuters.php?action=2008-11-07T150628Z_01_L7619406_RTRIDST_0_FINANCIAL-RUSSIA-UNREST-PIX-TV)

ST PETERSBURG, Russia, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered police on Friday to stamp out any social unrest or crime arising from the global financial crisis.

"We have a stable state ... We do not need a return to the 1990s when everything was boiling and seething," Medvedev told a meeting of senior officials.

"The law enforcement agencies should keep track of what is happening," he said.

"And if someone tries to exploit the consequences of the financial crisis ... they should intervene, bring criminal charges. Otherwise, there won't be order."

The longest economic boom in a generation has helped the Kremlin maintain political stability but some analysts say the financial crisis could give rise to a wave of social unrest.

Russia's benchmark RTS <.IRTS> stock exchange has fallen about 70 percent since May, making it one of the worst performers among emerging economies.

High oil prices which fueled Russia's economic boom have fallen from a peak of over $140 in July to just over $60 now.

The impact on ordinary people so far has been limited, partly because share ownership is not widespread and few people have private pensions. But firms in some sectors have started laying off staff.


Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev told Medvedev at the meeting, in Russia's second city of St Petersburg, that higher unemployment could lead to a rise in crime.

He also said there was a risk of greater extremism and racial tension centred on the millions of immigrants working in Russia, most of them from former Soviet republics.

"The mounting consequences of the world financial crisis could well have an unpredictable effect," he said. "Anti-crisis groups have been set up in the regions ... to intercept any early indications of destabilisation."

Analysts say the financial crisis poses no political threat to the Kremlin for the time being because opposition parties are too weak and divided to mount a serious challenge.

Kremlin opponent and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov predicted this week the crisis would bring new recruits to the opposition. He has announced the creation of a new anti-Kremlin coalition, called Solidarity.

"The processes happening in the opposition ... will of course be connected to the 10 to 15 percent of people who will feel the crisis breathing down their neck," Kasparov told a news conference.

Kasparov and his allies in the past have staged street protests that were dispersed by police but they have failed to gather widespread support or win any seats in parliament.

11-10-2008, 08:00 PM

Gordon Brown calls for new world order to beat recession (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/recession/3414946/Gordon-Brown-calls-for-new-world-order-to-beat-recession.html)

Mr Brown will call on fellow world leaders to use the current worldwide economic downturn as an opportunity to thoroughly reform international financial institutions and create a new "truly global society" with Britain, the US and Europe providing leadership.

His call comes ahead of an emergency summit of world leaders and finance ministers from 20 major countries, the G20, in Washington next weekend.

Mr Brown will say that the Washington meeting must establish a consensus on a new Bretton Woods-style framework for the international financial system, featuring a reformed International Monetary Fund which will act as a global early-warning system for financial problems.

The original Bretton Woods agreements, signed in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1944, established post-war international monetary protocols governing trade, banking and other financial relations among nations, including fixed exchange rates and the IMF.

Mr Brown's plan for strengthening the global economy 60 years later involves recapitalisation of banks to permit the resumption of normal lending to households and businesses, better international co-ordination of fiscal and monetary policy and a new IMF fund to help struggling economies and stop financial problems spreading between nations.

He also wants agreement on a world trade deal and reform of the international financial system based on principles of "transparency, integrity, responsibility, sound banking practice and global governance with co-ordination across borders".

As Britain moves into a painful recession Mr Brown has staked his own leadership on helping to find a way out of the global crisis.

In a speech to City financiers at the annual Lord Mayor's banquet in London he will say: "The British Government will begin to begin a new Bretton Woods with a new IMF that offers, by its surveillance of every economy, an early warning system and a crisis prevention mechanism for the whole world.

"The alliance between Britain and the US, and more broadly between Europe and the US, can and must provide leadership, not in order to make the rules ourselves, but to lead the global effort to build a stronger and more just international order.

"My message is that we must be internationalist not protectionist, interventionist not neutral, progressive not reactive and forward-looking not frozen by events. We can seize the moment and in doing so build a truly global society."

Mr Brown has already discussed IMF reforms with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and has called on countries including China and the oil-rich Gulf states to fund the bulk of an increase in the IMF's bailout pot.

The Prime Minister wants the markets to be subjected to morality and ordinary people's interests are put first.

He believes that in electing Barack Obama, US voters have showed their belief in a "progressive" agenda of government intervention to help families and businesses through the current crisis.

He will say: "Uniquely in this global age, it is now in our power to come together so that 2008 is remembered not just for the failure of a financial crash that engulfed the world but for the resilience and optimism with which we faced the storm, endured it and prevailed."

However, the head of the IMF played down expectations of a new Bretton Woods system ahead of the G20 summit.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF's managing director, said: "Expectations should not be oversold. Things are not going to change overnight. Bretton Woods took two years to prepare. A lot of people are talking about Bretton Woods II. The words sound nice but we are not going to create a new international treaty."

The European Union has called for an overhaul of the IMF with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, saying: "We want to change the rules of the game".

The US, however, has been more lukewarm on the possibility of radical change.

11-11-2008, 09:23 PM

People 'can't wait for ID cards' (Qhttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7712275.stm)

Jacqui Smith says public demand means people will be able to pre-register for an ID card within the next few months.

The cards will be available for all from 2012 but she said: "I regularly have people coming up to me and saying they don't want to wait that long."

The home secretary made the claim as she unveiled revised ID scheme plans.

Opposition parties say they would scrap the ID card scheme. The Tories call it a "complete waste of money". The Lib Dems call it a "laminated poll tax".

They accused Ms Smith of backtracking on plans to issue ID cards in 2009 for all airside workers, by announcing they would pilot them at just two airports.

UThe first biometric cards are being issued to students from outside the EU and marriage visa holders this month, and it had been planned to make them compulsory for all 200,000 airside workers from 2009.

'Saving face'

But instead the government announced there would be an 18-month trial, for airside workers at Manchester and London City airports only, from late next year.

Campaigners No2ID said it was a "transparent attempt to save ministerial face" amid opposition from unions and airline bosses, who say it is unjustified and would not improve security.

Unions had argued airside workers were already extensively vetted and believe they would have to pay £30 for a card - although it is understood they would be free during the trial period.

Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve described the decision to trial ID cards at just two airports as "clearly a climbdown" and "just a gimmick" aimed at selling the scheme to the public.

But a Home Office spokesman said they had always said that "ID cards for critical workers would be starting in the second half of 2009 and we are on track to meet this commitment".

He added ID cards would definitely be issued to the remaining airside workers in due course, before being rolled out to the wider population.

Supermarket enrolment

In a speech to the Social Market Foundation Ms Smith said cards would be issued on a voluntary basis to young people from 2010 and for everyone else from 2012.

She added: "But I believe there is a demand, now, for cards - and as I go round the country I regularly have people coming up to me and saying they don't want to wait that long.

"I now want to put that to the test and find a way to allow those people who want a card sooner to be able to pre-register their interest as early as the first few months of next year."

She told the BBC: "We'll see where that interest is, and then we'll see if we can issue some cards to those who've expressed an interest by the end of next year."

People applying for cards and passports from 2012 will have to provide fingerprints, photographs and a signature, which Ms Smith believes will create a market worth about £200m a year.

And in changes to earlier plans the Home Office is talking to retailers and the Post Office about setting up booths to gather biometric data.

'Trusted environment'

The government believes it would be "more convenient" for people and cheaper than setting up its previously planned enrolment centres in large population centres.

In her speech Ms Smith rejected claims handing enrolment over to private firms would compromise security.

"Provided that it is conducted in a secure and trusted environment, by service providers accredited and verified by the IPS and to high and rigorously enforced standards, enrolment should be able to happen at the convenience of the customer - on the high street, at the nearest post office, or at the local shopping centre."

The overall cost of the ID card scheme over the next 10 years has risen by £50m to £5.1bn in the past six months, according to the government's latest cost report.

Phil Booth, national coordinator of the NO2ID campaign, said Jacqui Smith's claim that people were saying they wanted an ID card "beggared belief" and would "come back to haunt her".

"She must be ignoring twice the number of people who are coming up to her and saying I don't want my details on any database whatsoever," said Mr Booth.

He said the government would struggle to find private firms willing to bid for the ID card contract.

"What company is going embarrass itself to the tune of millions for a contract that everyone outside the Home Office itself knows will be cancelled by a new administration?" he said.

For the Conservatives Mr Grieve said his party would axe the whole scheme because it was "a complete waste of money" and had asked for "break clauses" to be inserted into government contracts so it could be ended "without massive cost and waste to the public purse".

The government's plan to involve retailers in enrolling people was "worrying" given the government's IT track record, he added.

Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: "Ministers are choosing a limited number of guinea pigs at two smaller airports because they are aware of how unpopular ID cards are.

"The government is too scared to force ID cards on voters before an election because they know it would be a laminated poll tax.

"The problem is not the ease with which we can give up sensitive personal data, but the ease with which the Home Office loses it. The Government cannot be trusted to keep personal information safe."

11-12-2008, 05:58 PM
Why veins could replace fingerprints and retinas as most secure form of ID (http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article5129384.ece)

Forget fingerprinting. Companies in Europe have begun to roll out an advanced biometric system from Japan that identifies people from the unique patterns of veins inside their fingers.

Finger vein authentication, introduced widely by Japanese banks in the last two years, is claimed to be the fastest and most secure biometric method. Developed by Hitachi, it verifies a person's identity based on the lattice work of minute blood vessels under the skin.

Easydentic Group, a European leader in the biometric industry based in France, has announced that it will be using Hitachi's finger vein security in a range of door access systems for the UK and European markets.

In Japan, thousands of cash machines are operated by finger vein technology. Hitachi announced today that it will introduce 20,000 finger vein authentication systems at shops and kiosks belonging to two Japanese companies, which will use the devices to protect the privacy of customer information by requiring storeworkers to authenticate themselves before accessing the customer database.

The pattern of blood vessels is captured by transmitting near-infrared light at different angles through the finger, usually the middle finger. This can be done in a small instrument attached to a wall or as part of an ATM machine. The light is partially absorbed by haemoglobin in the veins and the pattern is captured by a camera as a unique 3D finger vein profile. This is turned into a simple digital code which is then matched with a pre-registered profile to verify an individual's identity. Even twins are said to have different finger vein patterns.

Hitachi claims that because the veins are inside the body, invisible to the eye, it is extremely difficult to forge and impossible to manipulate. While fingerprints can be "lifted" and retinas scanned without an individual realising it, it is extremely unlikely that people's finger vein profiles can be taken without them being aware of it, the company says.

The gruesome possibility that criminals may hack off a finger has already been discounted by Hitachi's scientists. Asked if authentication could be "forged" with a severed finger, the company says: "As blood would flow out of a disconnected finger, authentication would no longer be possible."

Hitachi says finger vein authentication is less expensive than iris scanning or face/voice recognition and that the false rejection rate is much lower than with fingerprinting. And people don't have to remember a pin number. Hitachi's system is being used to verify user identities for ATMs, door access systems and computer log-in systems in Japan.

An alternative technique, developed by Fujitsu, scans the palms of people's hands to identify a similarly unique vein pattern. This system has also been gaining international recognition. It was recently installed at Carolinas HealthCare System, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the first healthcare provider in the United States to implement this technology.

The palm scanners, which are linked to hospitals' patient registration databases, are used at admitting, the emergency department, one-day surgery, and all inpatient and outpatient registration points. "Most recently, we have begun a rollout to physician practice settings for our physicians network," said Steve Burr, vice president of patient financial services.

11-15-2008, 01:05 PM
Dennis Kucinich "Racketeering On A Scale This Country Has Never Seen Before!!!" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAaUkmAKw4A)

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11-23-2008, 12:57 PM
Angry Americans protest against U.S. monetary policy (http://www.russiatoday.com/Crisis/news/33638)

While leaders in Peru grapple with the financial fallout, Americans angry at the multi-billion dollar bailout plans are protesting in Washington. They say the U.S. Federal Reserve, far from helping solve the financial crisis, is taking money out of their pockets.

Today is National End The Fed day, and a number of U.S. citizens concerned with the country’s fiscal policy have gathered in 39 cities nationwide at each Federal Reserve building saying that they are sick and tired of being robbed.

“What bothers me about the Fed - they’re so secretive about how the monetary policy is done. They just keep on printing more and more money and everyone knows you can’t run a printing press and create wealth,” a protester in Washington said.

Some Americans are calling for a sound monetary policy and an end to bailouts.

They claim that the Federal Reserve system is at the very heart of the current economic crisis which these days might be beating out of control.

Debbie Krueger is a former marine, and a mother of five. She helped to organise the protest.

“The Federal Reserve is monopolising our money system and I know people that are working at three jobs and still can’t make ends meet. It’s just sad and disgusting that we don’t have the same quality of life that we used to have. The way that they are using the money is a disgrace, all the foreign wars that they are fighting for no reason are based on lies, and the Federal Reserve is based on lies,” she said.

Another marine, young Adam Kokesh who served in Iraq, has been a vocal critic of the war since leaving the U.S. Marines.

”I think that the Federal Reserve is the driving force for corporatism in America and the military industrial complex which of course is driving out imperialist foreign policy and often they have no regard for human morality, or life, or decency,” he said.

11-24-2008, 10:41 PM
New York City orders churches not to shelter homeless (http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5ii2icpszHlUxd7cJBlUekuiE4p-g)

NEW YORK — Twenty-two New York City churches have been ordered by the city to stop providing shelter to the homeless.

With temperatures below freezing Saturday, the churches had to follow a city rule requiring faith-based shelters to be open at least five days a week or not at all.

Arnold Cohen, president of the Partnership for the Homeless, a non-profit organization that serves as a link between city officials and shelters, delivered the news to the churches several weeks ago that they no longer qualify.
As a result hundreds of people now won't have a place to sleep, he said.

The city's emergency shelter network contract requires sites to operate at least five nights a week. The 22 churches have limited resources, since they operate their homeless beds using mostly volunteers.

On Saturday, the city Department of Homeless Services said there is plenty of space at other shelters to accept all those who have been sleeping in the churches. The spaces include four new faith-based sites where the number of beds combined with availability amounts to a greater total number of nights for people to stay, said Homeless Services spokeswoman Heather Janik.

There are now about 250 beds in churches, mosques and synagogues. They're close to drop-in centres where people receive other services, including food, Janik said.

"This city is investing more than ever to make sure people have a place to lay their heads at night," she said, adding the number of faith-based and other types of shelter beds will increase by 50 per cent in the next fiscal year to more than 1,000.

Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless non-profit advocacy group disputed the city figures showing an increase in beds. He said the city proposes to close down drop-in shelters overnight.

"That's a net loss," he said.

"However you cut it, there will be less shelter for the street homeless at a time when the economic downturn is causing more homelessness."

Janik said drop-in centres provide only "folding chairs," not beds.

"That's unacceptable and we think there are better programs and ways," she said.

11-25-2008, 05:06 PM
First British ID Cards Introduced (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20081125/tuk-first-british-id-cards-introduced-45dbed5.html)

The UK has taken the first significant step down the road towards rolling out a controversial new national ID card system.

Foreign students applying to study in Britain and those entering on marriage visas will now have to obtain a biometric identity card.

The Home Office expects 50,000 to 60,000 students will be affected in the first phase between now and March.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the scheme would demonstrate "our commitment to preventing immigration abuse and protecting the prosperity of the UK".

She added: "In time identity cards for foreign nationals will replace paper documents and give employers a safe and secure way of checking a migrant's right to work and study in the UK."

However, the move has been criticised by opponents of a national identity card scheme.

They accuse the government of using some of most vulnerable groups in society as guinea pigs for an untried and controversial system.

The shadow Home Secretary, Dominic Grieve, said the likelihood of a full roll-out of identity cards now looked slim.

He said: "It will still be possible for large numbers of people to be in this country without having visas.

"If they want to overstay and be here illegally this system will provide no protection whatsoever against their being here."

The development is the first main phase of the government's plans for identity cards for every British citizen within a decade.

Next year the cards will become compulsory for what the Home Office describes as "critical workers".

Initially this will mean around 200,000 airport workers will be forced to sign up as a condition of employment, because they work in highly sensitive positions.

In 2010, British students will be encouraged to register for an identity card before they open bank accounts.

From 2012, the cards will become available to the general population.

People applying for a new passport will asked to register their biometric data - although they will be able to opt out of being issued with a card.

11-25-2008, 07:05 PM
Rogers Says Dollar to Be ‘Devalued,' Buys Commodities (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aP5uFzsclsDQ&refer=home)

Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. dollar will be “devalued” as policy makers seek to weaken it, undermining the greenback’s role as an international reserve currency, said Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings in Singapore.

“They think that if you drive down the value of your money, it makes you more competitive, now that has never worked in history in the long term,” said Rogers. The ICE’s Dollar Index has gained 19 percent since Rogers said in an interview on April 27 he expected a dollar rally “about now.”

The dollar advanced against 15 of the 16 most-traded currencies since the end of June, losing out only to the yen, as a global financial crisis drove investors to the perceived safety of Treasuries. U.S. politicians want to reverse those gains to revive growth, Rogers said.

The dollar is “going to lose its status as the world’s reserve currency,” Rogers said yesterday in a televised interview with Bloomberg News. “It will be devalued and it will go down a lot. These guys in Washington, they want to debase the currency.”

Rogers said that he is buying the Japanese yen. All of the 16 most-active currencies have weakened against the yen since June, led by a 39 percent drop in the Australian dollar.

The ICE’s Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against the currencies of six major trading partners, traded at 86.147 as of 7:30 a.m. in London from 86.081 late in New York yesterday. It reached 88.463 on Nov. 21, the highest level since April 2006.

Plan to Exit Dollars

Rogers predicts the U.S. currency’s rally “will probably go into next year” and said he plans to cut the remainder of his dollar holdings during this period.

“If I were doing it today, and what I have done today, is buy the yen,” Rogers said. “But, it is also an artificial move that’s going on. It’s a difficult problem to find out what is a sound currency.”

Democratic lawmakers including Senator Charles Schumer of New York said this weekend they plan to put an economic stimulus package as large as $700 billion before President-elect Barack Obama on his first day in office. Obama has called for a sizeable enough plan to jolt the economy, saying the U.S. faces the loss of "millions of jobs'' unless immediate steps are taken to stimulate growth and rescue the nation's automakers.

Buying Commodities

Rogers also is buying commodities, saying their "fundamentals have not been impaired and, in fact, are improved.'' He correctly forecast in April 2006 that the oil price would reach $100 a barrel and gold $1,000 an ounce.

“In mid-October, I started buying commodities, I started buying China and I started buying Taiwan,'' he said. “I bought them all, but I've been focusing more on agriculture. I mean sugar is 80 percent below its all-time high. It's astonishing how low some of these prices are.''

The Rogers International Commodity Index Total Return has plummeted 52 percent from a record in July, including an 11 percent slide this month. The index has risen 124 percent over the past seven years.

Sugar surged the most in two weeks yesterday amid speculation that higher crude-oil prices will boost demand for alternative fuels, including ethanol made from cane.

Raw-sugar futures for March delivery rose 0.44 cent, or 3.9 percent, to 11.72 cents a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York yesterday. The gain was the biggest for a most-active contract since Nov. 4. Sugar has declined in each of the past three weeks.

12-03-2008, 05:21 PM
ID cards are not voluntary (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/12/03/dl0304.xml)

When the Government introduced its ID card legislation several years ago, it made one thing clear. Even though it would be obligatory to register on the ID database when obtaining a new passport, it would not be compulsory to carry a card.

This has led some people to assume that the scheme is voluntary. It is not, except insofar as someone whose passport has expired is happy never to travel abroad again. But ministers recognised that the scope for ID ‘matrydom’ was high if people were forced to carry an ID card.

The last identity system was abolished in 1952 following a celebrated case prompted by the refusal of a man called Clarence Willcock to produce his card when required to by a police officer. Mr Willcock reasoned that as the war that necessitated their introduction was over, he had no need to carry ID with him. The Government wanted to avoid creating an army of Clarence Willcocks so deliberately did not make it a legal requirement to carry ID.

Now it turns out that they are planning to sneak in just such a power presumably hoping that no-one noticed. But the eagle-eyed lawyers at Liberty spotted that clauses in the draft Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill – confirmed as part of the Government’s programme for this session of parliament in the Queen’s Speech - give state officials the power to make anyone who has ever entered the country, at any time, prove who they are.

This would effectively cover any British citizen who has ever left the UK, even for a holiday, because they will have "entered" the UK on their return. It will mean that for the first time in more than half a century that the police will be able to demand your papers.

One reason for publishing a draft Bill is so that it can be closely scrutinised before it gets into parliament for precisely such hidden powers or for clumsy drafting. Perhaps the Government did not intend the legislation to be so widely drawn and meant it merely to apply to people when they arrive at the border as part of a proper immigration control system.

If this is a drafting error, then the remedy is simple: when the Bill is formally introduced the offending clause can be withdrawn or amended.

If the Government insists upon proceeding with the measure in its current form, then we can draw our own conclusions.

12-05-2008, 04:55 AM
I almost forgot about this thread. Props again.

12-05-2008, 05:00 AM
^^^^^ Let another major false flag attack happen they will FORCE people to take them.

Fixed. :cool:

12-07-2008, 02:51 PM
1.25 million jobs lost in three months (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-fi-jobs6-2008dec06,0,6134165,full.story)

Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles -- The nation lost a staggering 533,000 jobs in November for the worst monthly decline in 34 years, putting new pressure on federal lawmakers and President-elect Barack Obama to move aggressively to contain the widening economic crisis.

The unexpectedly high job losses, coupled with the threat of an auto industry collapse and escalating home foreclosures, point toward a much deeper recession than many economists had anticipated.

"With the loss of over a half-million jobs just last month, the U.S. job market is now shedding jobs at a truly alarming rate, a rate that is measurably worse than past recessions," said Jared Bernstein, a labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute who has been named an advisor to incoming Vice President Joe Biden.

"Policymakers need to recognize this as an emergency at the scale of any we've seen in recent years," he said.

Adding to the grim news, the Labor Department said Friday that job losses in the previous two months were much worse than originally estimated: 403,000 in September and 320,000 in October. That means that more than 1.25 million jobs vanished in just the last three months.

The darkening employment picture is making it harder for people like Jason Webber, 40, of Hollywood to find work.

Webber, a sculptor whose last job was as a sales associate at Kmart, said he had sent out 60 job applications and gone on 18 interviews just in the last three weeks, to no avail.

His girlfriend, Elizabeth Fields, 25, is expecting the couple's second child in 10 weeks, and Webber said he was increasingly anxious that he wouldn't have a steady income to support his family.

"It's just hellish," Webber said. "I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm running out of time. I'm probably not going to have a job when the baby's born, but that's just not an option."

Harry Holzer, a labor economist at Georgetown University, warned that a vicious cycle of job losses and foreclosures appeared to be picking up steam. A trade group reported Friday that a record 1 in 10 U.S. homeowners were either late on their mortgage payments or in foreclosure at the end of September.

"You're at that point in the business cycle where declines feed on themselves," Holzer said. "People who lose their jobs are going to have less money to make their housing payments, so that could increase foreclosures. They are also going to buy less, and declining consumer purchases are going to cause more job cuts."

"There's nothing to suggest that we're going to bottom out any time soon," he added.

Altogether, businesses have eliminated nearly 2 million jobs since the start of the year, according to the Labor Department. Normally the economy has to create 100,000 jobs a month, or about 1.2 million a year, just to keep pace with population growth.

The unemployment rate also rose -- though not as dramatically -- to 6.7% from 6.5%. Economists say that's because the government doesn't count "discouraged" workers, and many of those who have lost their jobs aren't even trying to find new ones. It also doesn't count people who are working part time because their hours have been cut or they can't find a full-time job.

When discouraged workers and involuntary part-timers are included, the effective unemployment rate rises to 12.5%, some economists estimate.

For most of this year, the losses have been concentrated in the manufacturing and construction sectors, but last month no part of the economy was spared.

That includes small businesses, which historically have been reluctant to part with trained workers because of the expense of finding replacements when business picks up again.

"The fact that you are now seeing job losses in small companies tells you that this has now spread well beyond the manufacturing and housing sectors," said Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, an economic research firm in St. Louis.

Janine and Ted Montoya, who own two small air-conditioning and heating firms in Ventura County, say they've been forced to lay off seven employees, or nearly one-third of their workforce, in the last year.

One of the casualties was their own daughter, Bethany Montoya, who's getting married in two weeks.

"It's very, very hard," said Janine Montoya. "With large businesses, it's all on paper, it's all mathematics. With a small business, you're close to your employees. You know their wives and children. We have Christmas parties and barbecues together in the summer. It's so emotional."

Small businesses that aren't actually laying off people may be cutting back their hours. That's the situation at Lulu's Dessert Corp. in Anaheim.

Company founder Maria Sobrino said many of her 60 employees are now working four days a week instead of five, and shifts have been cut from 10 hours to eight. Unless business improves, she says, layoffs may come in January.

"Sales are very soft right now," said Sobrino, whose company distributes dessert snacks to about 5,000 stores in California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas. "It'll depend on how the holidays go. Buyers are postponing their appointments until January. They don't want to see any new products until next year."

"I'm looking for a miracle to happen," she said.

On Wall Street, stocks rallied from an initial decline, with the Dow Jones industrial average gaining more than 250 points. Analysts differed over the reasons, with some chalking it up to another sign of the unpredictability and volatility of the market these days.

The economy officially entered a recession a year ago, but economists say the downturn deepened sharply when financial markets crashed in September.

From January to August, job cuts averaged 82,000 a month. Since September, the average has been 419,000 jobs a month.

At the White House, the bad news prompted President Bush to make a public statement on the economy in which he used the word "recession" for the first time to refer to the current downturn.

"Today's job data reflects the fact that our economy is in a recession," Bush said, speaking on the South Lawn. "This is in large part because of severe problems in our housing, credit and financial markets, which have resulted in significant job losses."

Bush, in his final weeks as president, has little clout left with lawmakers. White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said the administration was focused on implementing the current rescue package aimed at the financial markets. A more broadly focused stimulus package "is something that we expect to happen in the next administration," he said.

Still, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) urged Bush to lift his opposition to a House-passed economic assistance bill that stalled in the Senate two months ago.

"Our economy cannot wait for a new president, a new Congress or a new year to provide assistance to millions of Americans who have been ignored by the White House as the economy has steadily worsened," Pelosi said in a statement.

All the same, the Democratic leaders who control Congress are mostly focused on what can be done once Obama is inaugurated. Lawmakers are already drawing up plans for a massive economic recovery package -- estimates range from $400 billion to $700 billion -- designed to create jobs and spur consumer spending.

An economic recovery couldn't come soon enough for Karina Davila, 25, of South-Central Los Angeles, who was laid off from her administrative position at a Los Angeles law firm two months ago.

To support herself and her four young sons, the single mother has turned to her savings, her parents and assistance from the county. She hasn't eaten out in five months, and she put away her cell- phone for three weeks to make ends meet. She only recently reactivated her phone so potential employers could contact her.

"It's been a struggle, but I've been hanging on," she said.

Despite gloomy economic predictions, Davila is optimistic that she and her kids will be OK.

"I am struggling but I have a roof over my kids tonight," she said. "I'm looking for an office job but I'm willing to take a fast-food restaurant job as long as I can support my kids."

12-11-2008, 06:08 PM
Jim Rogers calls most big U.S. banks "bankrupt" (http://www.reuters.com/article/InvestmentOutlook09/idUSTRE4BA5CO20081211)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jim Rogers, one of the world's most prominent international investors, on Thursday called most of the largest U.S. banks "totally bankrupt," and said government efforts to fix the sector are wrongheaded.

Speaking by teleconference at the Reuters Investment Outlook 2009 Summit, the co-founder with George Soros of the Quantum Fund, said the government's $700 billion rescue package for the sector doesn't address how banks manage their balance sheets, and instead rewards weaker lenders with new capital.

Dozens of banks have won infusions from the Troubled Asset Relief Program created in early October, just after the Sept 15 bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc (LEHMQ.PK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz). Some of the funds are being used for acquisitions.

"Without giving specific names, most of the significant American banks, the larger banks, are bankrupt, totally bankrupt," said Rogers, who is now a private investor.

"What is outrageous economically and is outrageous morally is that normally in times like this, people who are competent and who saw it coming and who kept their powder dry go and take over the assets from the incompetent," he said. "What's happening this time is that the government is taking the assets from the competent people and giving them to the incompetent people and saying, now you can compete with the competent people. It is horrible economics."

Rogers said he shorted shares of Fannie Mae (FNM.P: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Freddie Mac (FRE.P: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) before the government nationalized the mortgage financiers in September, a week before Lehman failed.

Now a specialist in commodities, Rogers said he has used the recent rally in the U.S. dollar as an opportunity to exit dollar-denominated assets.

While not saying how long the U.S. economic recession will last, he said conditions could ultimately mirror those of Japan in the 1990s. "The way things are going, we're going to have a lost decade too, just like the 1970s," he said.

Goldman Sachs & Co analysts this week estimated that banks worldwide have suffered $850 billion of credit-related losses and writedowns since the global credit crisis began last year.

But Rogers said sound U.S. lenders remain. He said these could include banks that don't make or hold subprime mortgages, or which have high ratios of deposits to equity, "all the classic old ratios that most banks in America forgot or started ignoring because they were too old-fashioned."

Many analysts cite Lehman's Sept 15 bankruptcy as a trigger for the recent cratering in the economy and stock markets.

Rogers called that idea "laughable," noting that banks have been failing for hundreds of years. And yet, he said policymakers aren't doing enough to prevent another Lehman.

"Governments are making mistakes," he said. "They're saying to all the banks, you don't have to tell us your situation. You can continue to use your balance sheet that is phony.... All these guys are bankrupt, they're still worrying about their bonuses, they're still trying to pay their dividends, and the whole system is weakened."

Rogers said is investing in growth areas in China and Taiwan, in such areas as water treatment and agriculture, and recently bought positions in energy and agriculture indexes.

Detroit's finest
12-11-2008, 06:26 PM

12-12-2008, 05:49 PM

US homelessness, hunger rising (http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=78276&sectionid=3510203)

A survey cited by AFP says homelessness and hunger increased in an overwhelming majority of 25 US cities in the past year, driven by the foreclosure crisis.

Out of 25 cities across the United States surveyed by the US Conference of Mayors, 83 percent said homelessness in general had increased over the past year while 16 cities, or nearly two-thirds of those polled, cited a rise in the number of families who had been forced out of their homes.

In Louisville, Kentucky, the number of homeless families increased 58 percent in 2008 to 931 families from 591 people in 2007, with the rise blamed on soaring food, health care, transportation and energy prices.

Boston, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island blamed the rise in family homelessness on evictions by landlords whose rental properties were foreclosed.

Meanwhile, the number of people seeking food assistance for the first time was up in all 21 cities with data on the issue, and was "particularly notable among working families stressed by the increase in food prices and the slowdown in the economy," the report said.

Officials in Philadelphia told the survey "new people coming to food cupboards are people that are employed with children.

"With food prices increasing as much as 30 percent and incomes either staying the same or decreasing, it is impossible for them to feed their families," the report said.

When asked to identify the three main causes of hunger, 83 percent of cities cited poverty, 74 percent cited unemployment and 57 percent cited the high cost of housing.

And while demand for food assistance was up, providing it was more difficult for cities as the faltering economy and rising joblessness -- two key reasons for the increased demand -- also caused the number of donations to fall.

Greater efficiency in large grocery stores and food suppliers has also shrunk the availability of food assistance because it has decreased food donations from the large organizations, which are the main donors to food banks.

Food banks -- places where donated food is made available free-of-charge to needy people -- are the main providers of food aid in most US cities.

They have struggled in the past year to maintain stock levels due to the increased cost of food and fuel.

"Los Angeles, Boston and Portland reported that increases in the price of food have lead to a decrease in the quantity of food they are able to purchase," the report said.

Phoenix, where the cost of fuel and trucking expenses has increased by as much as 72 percent, the total amount of food distributed decreased by 13 percent even though the level of funding increased by 30 percent," it said.

The price of food increased 6.2 percent on average over the last year, the largest increase in nearly 20 years, the report said.

And during the 12-month period ending in September for which most of the cities provided data, gasoline (petrol) prices skyrocketed in the United States to reach record highs of more than four dollars per gallon to the consumer, with the price of diesel fuel used by truckers going even higher. Fuel prices have, however, seen a sharp decline in recent months.

12-13-2008, 02:50 PM
Robert Mugabe has said the West was plotting to use cholera to invade

UK caused cholera, says Zimbabwe (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7780728.stm)

The cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe which has left hundreds dead was caused by the UK, an ally of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has said.

Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu described the outbreak as a "genocidal onslaught on the people of Zimbabwe by the British".

On Thursday, Mr Mugabe said the spread of cholera had been halted.

But aid workers warned that the situation was worsening and the outbreak could last for months.

In his comments to media in Harare, Mr Ndlovu likened the appearance of cholera in Zimbabwe to a "serious biological chemical weapon" used by the British.

He described it as "a calculated, racist, terrorist attack on Zimbabwe". Mr Mugabe has already accused Western powers of plotting to use cholera as an excuse to invade and overthrow him.

Earlier on Friday a senior South African Anglican bishop said that Mr Mugabe should be seen as a "21st Century Hitler".

Bishop of Pretoria Joe Seoka called on churches to pray for his removal, the South African Press Association reports.

His comments came as the US ambassador to Zimbabwe warned that the country was turning into a "failed state".

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the outbreak has not been contained and the death toll has increased to some 792 people, the AFP news agency reports.

The WHO has warned that the total number of cases could reach 60,000 unless the epidemic was stopped.

US ambassador James McGee blamed the outbreak on Zimbabwe's political crisis and the failed economic policies of its government.

He told reporters in Washington that hospitals in Harare remained closed, there was no rubbish collection and people were drinking from sewers.

President Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been deadlocked in power-sharing negotiations for several months.

"The situation is truly grim. One man and his cronies - Robert Mugabe - are holding this country hostage," Mr McGee said, AP news agency reports.

Bishop Seoka said that Mr Mugabe was a "person seemingly without conscience or remorse, and a murderer".

"I believe it is now an opportune moment for all the church leaders to follow the retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, to call on God to cause the removal Mugabe from the office of the President of Zimbabwe," he said, calling for the prayers to be held next Tuesday.

"The church in South Africa has done this before with the apartheid regime and there is no doubt that God will hear our prayers even today."

Several African and Western leaders have recently said it was time for Mr Mugabe to step down.

Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga said African countries should force him from power.

But the African Union has rejected such calls, saying a solution to Zimbabwe's problems must come from the power-sharing talks.

Bishop Seoka asked South Africans to show patience to Zimbabweans who have fled their homeland.

An estimated three million Zimbabweans are living in South Africa, and thousands cross over the border illegally every day.

More recently, hundreds have sought medical treatment because Zimbabwe's health service and water supply infrastructure have virtually collapsed.

12-15-2008, 10:15 PM

'India gearing up for Pakistan attack' (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=78521&sectionid=351020401)

The Pentagon says that India becomes ready to attack Pakistan in retaliation for the recent Mumbai attacks that killed about 200 people.

Washington has information that India's air force began preliminary preparations for a possible attack, three Pentagon officials told CNN on Monday.

One official said that India's air force 'went on alert', giving no further details.

The US concluded these preliminary preparations could put India quickly in the position to launch air strikes against suspected terrorist camps and targets inside Pakistan, a second official said.

Washington also has information that a single Indian aircraft violated Pakistani airspace twice on Saturday, according to one of the officials.

The official, however, added that the incursion was inadvertent, saying that there is no information to indicate it was planned.

Tension between New Delhi and Islamabad has intensified after Mumbai terror attacks which left more than 170 people dead and 300 others injured.

The US and Indian intelligence reports suggested the Mumbai attacks were carried out by Pakistan-based militants. Pakistan denies the allegations, saying Islamabad is waiting for evidence from New Delhi proving Pakistani nationals were involved in the attacks.

12-16-2008, 02:26 PM

U.S. "to set up bases" in Central Asia (http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/34834)

The U.S. is planning to set up military bases in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, according to Russia's head of the General Staff. He said Washington already has forces in Bulgaria and Romania that can become operational within hours, raising concern in Moscow.

Speaking at the Academy of Military Science, General Nikolay Makarov also pointed out that the U.S. is prompting Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO.

"In this situation, it is clear that Russia is concerned by the deployment near its borders of NATO's advanced forces and bases ready to start combat operations within hours.”

The chief of the General Staff also cited U.S. president-elect Barack Obama who said that “all efforts should be consolidated to monitor democratic reforms in Russia and China."

General Makarov added that anyone hoping for policy change after Obama takes office is making a dire mistake.

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan - former Soviet republics in Central Asia - are strategically important partners for both Moscow and Washington.

The U.S. is strengthening its ties with oil-rich Kazakhstan, which in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, allowed American planes to fly over its territory during the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Now that Washington has announced its plans to send 20,000 more troops to the war-ravaged country, the U.S., according to some Russian experts, will need more bases in neighbouring states.

The U.S. also had a military base in Uzbekistan which served as a hub for combat and humanitarian missions to Afghanistan until 2005 when the Central Asian state evicted American troops from the airbase.

But now Uzbekistan is turning its foreign policy westwards and searching for closer ties with Washington and the EU.

12-19-2008, 12:20 PM

Children forced into cell-like school seclusion rooms (http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/12/17/seclusion.rooms/index.html)

MURRAYVILLE, Georgia (CNN) -- A few weeks before 13-year-old Jonathan King killed himself, he told his parents that his teachers had put him in "time-out."

"We thought that meant go sit in the corner and be quiet for a few minutes," Tina King said, tears washing her face as she remembered the child she called "our baby ... a good kid."

But time-out in the boy's north Georgia special education school was spent in something akin to a prison cell -- a concrete room latched from the outside, its tiny window obscured by a piece of paper.

Called a seclusion room, it's where in November 2004, Jonathan hanged himself with a cord a teacher gave him to hold up his pants.

An attorney representing the school has denied any wrongdoing.

Seclusion rooms, sometimes called time-out rooms, are used across the nation, generally for special needs children. Critics say that along with the death of Jonathan, many mentally disabled and autistic children have been injured or traumatized.

Few states have laws on using seclusion rooms, though 24 states have written guidelines, according to a 2007 study conducted by a Clemson University researcher.

Texas, which was included in that study, has stopped using seclusion and restraint. Georgia has just begun to draft guidelines, four years after Jonathan's death.

Based on conversations with officials in 22 states with written guidelines, seclusion is intended as a last resort when other attempts to calm a child have failed or when a student is hurting himself or others.

Michigan requires that a child held in seclusion have constant supervision from an instructor trained specifically in special education, and that confinement not exceed 15 minutes.

Connecticut education spokesman Tom Murphy said "time-out rooms" were used sparingly and were "usually small rooms with padding on the walls."

Only Vermont tracks how many children are kept in seclusion from year to year, though two other states, Minnesota and New Mexico, say they have been using the rooms less frequently in recent years.

Dr. Veronica Garcia, New Mexico's education secretary, said her state had found more sophisticated and better ways to solve behavior problems. Garcia, whose brother is autistic, said, "The idea of confining a child in a room repeatedly and as punishment, that's an ethics violation I would never tolerate."

But researchers say that the rooms, in some cases, are being misused and that children are suffering.

Public schools in the United States are now educating more than half a million more students with disabilities than they did a decade ago, according to the National Education Association.

"Teachers aren't trained to handle that," said Dr. Roger Pierangelo, executive director of the National Association of Special Education Teachers.

"When you have an out-of-control student threatening your class -- it's not right and it can be very damaging -- but seclusion is used as a 'quick fix' in many cases."

Former Rhode Island special education superintendent Leslie Ryan told CNN that she thought she was helping a disabled fifth-grader by keeping him in a "chill room" in the basement of a public elementary school that was later deemed a fire hazard.

"All I know is I tried to help this boy, and I had very few options," Ryan said. After the public learned of the room, she resigned from her post with the department but remains with the school.

School records do not indicate why Jonathan King was repeatedly confined to the concrete room or what, if any, positive outcome was expected.

His parents say they don't recognize the boy described in records as one who liked to kick and punch his classmates. They have launched a wrongful death lawsuit against the school -- the Alpine Program in Gainesville -- which has denied any wrongdoing. A Georgia judge is expected to rule soon on whether the case can be brought before a jury.

Jonathan's parents say the boy had been diagnosed since kindergarten with severe depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But his father remembers him as a boy who was happy when he sang in the church choir.

"He was a hugger, liked to go fishing with me and run after me saying, 'Daddy, when are we going to the lake?' " Don King said.

King said that he wanted to know if there were similar situations in other schools and that critics of seclusion rooms fear there could be.

"Jonathan's case is the worst of the worst, but it should be a warning. It's reasonable to think that it could happen in all the other schools that use seclusion on disabled children -- largely because the use of seclusion goes so unchecked," said Jane Hudson, an attorney with the National Disability Rights Network.

"This is one of those most unregulated, unresearched areas I've come across," said Joseph Ryan, a Clemson University special education researcher who has worked in schools for disabled kids and co-authored a study on the use of seclusion.

"You have very little oversight in schools of these rooms -- first because the general public doesn't really even know they exist," he said.

There is no national database tracking seclusion incidents in schools, though many have been described in media reports, lawsuits, disability advocacy groups' investigations and on blogs catering to parents who say their child had been held in seclusion.

Disability Rights California, a federally funded watchdog group, found that teachers dragged children into seclusion rooms they could not leave. In one case, they found a retarded 8-year-old had been locked alone in a seclusion room in a northeast California elementary school for at least 31 days in a year.

"What we found outrageous was that we went to the schools and asked to see the rooms and were denied," said Leslie Morrison, a psychiatric nurse and attorney who led the 2007 investigation that substantiated at least six cases of abuse involving seclusion in public schools.

"It took a lot of fighting to eventually get in to see where these children were held."

CNN asked every school official interviewed if a reporter could visit a seclusion room and was denied every time.

In other instances of alleged abuse:

• A Tennessee mother alleged in a federal suit against the Learn Center in Clinton that her 51-pound 9-year-old autistic son was bruised when school instructors used their body weight on his legs and torso to hold him down before putting him in a "quiet room" for four hours. Principal Gary Houck of the Learn Center, which serves disabled children, said lawyers have advised him not to discuss the case.

• Eight-year-old Isabel Loeffler, who has autism, was held down by her teachers and confined in a storage closet where she pulled out her hair and wet her pants at her Dallas County, Iowa, elementary school. Last year, a judge found that the school had violated the girl's rights. "What we're talking about is trauma," said her father, Doug Loeffler. "She spent hours in wet clothes, crying to be let out." Waukee school district attorney Matt Novak told CNN that the school has denied any wrongdoing.

• A mentally retarded 14-year-old in Killeen, Texas, died from his teachers pressing on his chest in an effort to restrain him in 2001. Texas passed a law to limit both restraint and seclusion in schools because the two methods are often used together.

Federal law requires that schools develop behavioral plans for students with disabilities. These plans are supposed to explicitly explain behavior problems and methods the teacher is allowed to use to stop it, including using music to calm a child or allowing a student to take a break from schoolwork.

A behavioral plan for Jonathan King, provided to CNN by the Kings' attorney, shows that Jonathan was confined in the seclusion room on 15 separate days for infractions ranging from cursing and threatening other students to physically striking classmates.

Howard "Sandy" Addis, the director of the Pioneer education agency which oversees Alpine, said that the room where Jonathan died is no longer in use. Citing the ongoing litigation, he declined to answer questions about the King case but defended the use of seclusion for "an emergency safety situation."

The Alpine Program's attorney, Phil Hartley, said Jonathan's actions leading up to his suicide did not suggest the boy was "serious" about killing himself. Jonathan's actions were an "effort to get attention," Hartley said.

"This is a program designed for students with severe emotional disabilities and problems," he said. "It is a program which frequently deals with students who use various methods of getting attention, avoiding work."

A substitute employee placed in charge of watching the room on the day Jonathan died said in an affidavit that he had no training in the use of seclusion, and didn't know Jonathan had threatened suicide weeks earlier.

he Kings say they would have removed their son from the school if they knew he was being held in seclusion, or that he had expressed a desire to hurt himself.

"We would have home schooled him or taken him to another psychologist," said Don King. "If we would have known, our boy would have never been in that room. He would still be alive."

12-19-2008, 12:28 PM

People 'still willing to torture' (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7791278.stm)

Decades after a notorious experiment, scientists have found test subjects are still willing to inflict pain on others - if told to by an authority figure.

US researchers repeated the famous "Milgram test", with volunteers told to deliver electrical shocks to another volunteer - played by an actor.

Even after faked screams of pain, 70% were prepared to increase the voltage, the American Psychology study found.

Both may help explain why apparently ordinary people can commit atrocities.

Yale University professor Stanley Milgram's work, published in 1963, recruited volunteers to help carry out a medical experiment, with none aware that they were actually the subject of the test.

A "scientist" instructed them to deliver a shock every time the actor answered a question wrongly.

When the pretend 150-volt shock was delivered, the actor could be heard screaming in pain, and yet, when asked to, more than eight out of ten volunteers were prepared to give further shocks, even when the "voltage" was gradually increased threefold.

Some volunteers even carried on giving 450-volt shocks even when there was no further response from the actor, suggesting he was either unconscious or dead.

Similar format

Dr Jerry Burger, of Santa Clara University, used a similar format, although he did not allow the volunteers to carry on beyond 150 volts after they had shown their willingness to do so, suggesting that the distress caused to the original volunteers had been too great.

Again, however, the vast majority of the 29 men and 41 women taking part were willing to push the button knowing it would cause pain to another human.

Even when another actor entered the room and questioned what was happening, most were still prepared to continue.

He told Reuters: "What we found is validation of the same argument - if you put people in certain situations, they will act in surprising and maybe often even disturbing ways."

He said that it was not that there was "something wrong" with the volunteers, but that when placed under pressure, people will often do "unsettling" things.

Even though it was difficult to translate laboratory work to the real world, he said, it might partly explain why, in times of conflict, people could take part in genocide.

Complex task

Dr Abigail San, a chartered clinical psychologist, has recently replicated the experiment for a soon-to-be-aired BBC documentary - all the way up to the 450-volt mark, again finding a similar outcome to Professor Milgram.

"It's not that these people are simply not good people any more - there is a massive social influence going on."

She said that the volunteers were being asked to carry out a complex task in aid of scientific research, and became entirely focused on it, with "little room" left for considering the plight of the person receiving the shock.

"They tend to identify massively with the 'experimenter', and become very engaged and distracted by the research.

"There's no opportunity for them to say 'What's my moral stand on this?'"

12-20-2008, 04:04 PM
NAU in the open now? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-mlyyvRdK8)

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12-23-2008, 12:38 PM
US economy shrinks as IMF warns of Great Depression (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h6Os57hYEifFkfS0_4tWaYPMVJxQ)

LONDON (AFP) — The US economy shrank by 0.5 percent in the third quarter, official data showed on Tuesday as Britain edged ever closer to a recession and the IMF's top economist warned of a second Great Depression.

The abrupt contraction of gross domestic product (GDP) in the world's largest economy, confirming a first estimate, was seen by analysts as marking the start of a steep downturn for the United States after GPD growth of 2.8 percent in the second quarter.

Britain's economy also shrank by 0.6 percent in the three months to September compared to the previous quarter, against a previous estimate of 0.5-percent contraction, the Office for National Statistics said.

Britain and the United States will be in recession if their economies contract again in the fourth quarter, according to the traditional definition of a recession as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.

The IMF's top economist, Olivier Blanchard, warned governments around the world should boost domestic demand in order to avoid a Great Depression similar to the downturn that shook the world in the 1930s.

"Consumer and business confidence indexes have never fallen so far since they began. The coming months will be very bad," Blanchard said in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde.

"It is imperative to stifle this loss of confidence, to restart household consumption, if we want to prevent this recession developing into a Great Depression," he added.

New data out in France offered some respite from the gloom, however, showing that household consumption of manufactured goods -- a key growth indicator -- rallied 0.3 percent last month after slumping in October.

"It is a first small Christmas present for the French economy," said Alexander Law, an economist at the Xerfi research centre in Paris.

But in Italy, retail sales figures went down 0.3 percent in October.

Denmark's economy contracted 0.4 percent in the third quarter and the Dutch economy showed zero growth, official data showed. Finland's unemployment rate rose to 6.0 percent in November from 5.8 percent a month earlier.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Polish central bank cut its key lending rate by 75 basis points to 5.00 percent, following a further cut in interest rates in Hungary on Monday by half a percentage to 10.0 percent.

The European Central Bank issued some heartening pre-Christmas data showing that the eurozone's current account deficit narrowed to 6.4 billion euros (9.0 billion dollars) in October from 8.8 billion euros in September.

News of weakening growth sent the British pound sliding under 1.0550 euros, nearing a record low of 1.0463 reached last week, as dealers bet on more interest rate cuts from the Bank of England and forecast parity with the euro.

The dollar also drifted lower against the euro and the yen in muted trading conditions ahead of the Christmas holidays. In late morning trading, the euro firmed to 1.3959 dollars, from 1.3944 dollars in New York late on Monday.

European stocks rose in early afternoon trading after the announcement of US GDP figures, with the FTSE 100 index in London up 0.80 percent, the Frankfurt Dax up 0.89 percent and the CAC 40 in Paris up 0.51 percent.

Asian stocks closed mostly down, with the Hong Kong stock market shedding 2.8 percent and Shanghai sinking 4.55 percent as a smaller-than-expected Chinese interest rate cut failed to boost market sentiment.

Oil prices also fell further to below 40 dollars a barrel in Asian trade, with New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, shedding eight cents to 39.83 dollars a barrel.

The contract had fallen to 39.91 dollars in New York on Monday.

Energy analysts were also keeping a close eye on a meeting of key world gas exporters in Moscow amid fears of a "gas OPEC" similar to the Vienna-based oil cartel that could raise natural gas prices.

In a keynote speech, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told the conference that the "era of cheap gas" for consumers was coming to an end because of the expense of developing new fields.

Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said: "We see in this forum an opportunity to build a solid organisation, which has in its foundation the same principles that gave birth to OPEC."

12-24-2008, 07:26 PM
India threatens Pakistan with deadline for WAR (http://www.daily.pk/local/other-local/8706-india-threatens-pakistan-with-deadline-for-war.html)

New Delhi has told Islamabad that time is running out for Pakistan with the deadline of Dec 26th given by for a crackdown on so called terror groups which are charities for Hindu & Christians.

A leading publisher of geopolitical intelligence, Stratfor, has said that after the Nov 26th Mumbai attacks, India relayed a message to Pakistan via the US that they would be given thirty days to carry out significant actions in cracking down on Islamist militant proxies operating on Pakistani soil.

Islamabad has continued to deny that the terrorists who attacked Mumbai were from Pakistan.

The Stratfor report said: 'Pakistan's deadline, as far as we know, is Dec 26th, making Indian military action against Pakistan a very real and near possibility. The Indians have had a month to prepare their military operations against Pakistan, and Indian defence sources have revealed that these plans are ready to go into effect.'

Over the past month, the US has come down hard on Pakistan behind the scenes, making it clear that Islamabad will have to deliver on India's demands or else Washington will not be able to stand in New Delhi's way if and when India decides to act.

However, the report said that it is still unclear how far India will take this military campaign and to what extent the US operations in Afghanistan will be affected.

Discussions are taking place inside Indian defence circles over an escalatory military campaign, beginning with largely symbolic strikes in Pakistan's Kashmir against local offices.

Depending on Pakistan's ability to respond, Indian pressure could then be ratcheted up with precision air strikes in Pakistan's urban areas, including intelligence facilities and militant leadership hideouts.

12-24-2008, 07:53 PM

US police could get 'pain beam' weapons (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16339-us-police-could-get-pain-beam-weapons.html?full=true&print=true)

The research arm of the US Department of Justice is working on two portable non-lethal weapons that inflict pain from a distance using beams of laser light or microwaves, with the intention of putting them into the hands of police to subdue suspects.

The two devices under development by the civilian National Institute of Justice both build on knowledge gained from the Pentagon's controversial Active Denial System (ADS) - first demonstrated in public last year, which uses a 2-metre beam of short microwaves to heat up the outer layer of a person's skin and cause pain.

'Reduced injuries'

Like the ADS, the new portable devices will also heat the skin, but will have beams only a few centimetres across. They are designed to elicit what the Pentagon calls a "repel response" - a strong urge to escape from the beam.

A spokesperson for the National Institute for Justice likens the effect of the new devices to that of "blunt trauma" weapons such as rubber bullets, "But unlike blunt trauma devices, the injury should not be present. This research is looking to reduce the injuries to suspects," they say.

Existing blunt trauma weapons can break ribs or even kill, making alternatives welcome. Yet ADS has recorded problems too - out of several thousand tests on human subjects there were two cases of second-degree burns.

Dazzle and burn

The NIJ's laser weapon has been dubbed Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response - PHaSR - and resembles a bulky rifle. It was created in 2005 by a US air force agency to temporarily dazzle enemies (see image, right), but the addition of a second, infrared laser makes it able to heat skin too.

The NIJ is testing the PHaSR in various scenarios, which may include prison situations as well as law enforcement.

The NIJ's portable microwave-based weapon is less developed. Currently a tabletop prototype with a range of less than a metre, a backpack-sized prototype with a range of 15 metres will be ready next year, a spokesperson says.

The truly portable mini-ADS could prove the more useful, as microwaves penetrate clothing better than the infra-red beam, which is most effective on exposed skin. Although the spokesman says: "In LEC [Law Enforcement and Corrections] use there is always a little bit of skin to target."

Torture concerns

The effect of microwave beams on humans has been investigated for years, but there is little publicly available research on the effects of PHaSR-type lasers on humans. The attraction of using a laser is that it can be less bulky than a microwave device.

Human rights groups say that equipping police with such weapons would add to the problems posed by existing "non-lethals" such as Tasers. Security expert Steve Wright at Leeds Metropolitan University describes the new weapons as "torture at the touch of a button".

"We have grave concerns about the deployment and use of any such devices, which have the potential to be used for torture or other ill treatment," says Amnesty International's arms control researcher Helen Hughes, adding that all research into their effects should be made public.

12-25-2008, 01:47 PM
New law means anti-gay comments could lead to seven years in jail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-486452/New-law-means-anti-gay-comments-lead-seven-years-jail.html)

Stirring up hatred against homosexuals is to become a serious crime punishable with a seven-year jail sentence under a law announced last night.

The legislation - similar to laws already in force outlawing persecution on religious or racial grounds - will make criminals of those who express their views in ways that could lead to the bullying or harassment of gays.

The maximum sentence is longer than the average of around five years handed to rapists.

The announcement widened the rift between opposing supporters of freedom of speech and gay rights.

Christian groups condemned it as "a law to allow Christiansto be locked up for what they believe".

But the gay pressure group Stonewall said those who disapprove of homosexuals would have nothing to fear from the law if they express their views in a manner that is "temperate" and "polite".

Justice Secretary Jack Straw told MPs the gay harassment law will be included as an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill currently going before Parliament, though ministers have yet to decide the wording.

Mr Straw said: "It is a measure of how far we have come as a society in the last ten years that we are now appalled by hatred and invective directed at people on the basis of their sexuality.

"It is time for the law to recognise this."

He raised the prospect of extending the law to cover to "transgendered" people and the disabled.

The new law aims to catch those who do not explicitly call for attacks or discrimination against homosexuals, as this is covered by existing incitement laws.

Instead, police will be allowed to pursue those who create an "atmosphere or climate" in which hatred or bullying can be fostered. Officials said it would not prohibit criticism of gay, lesbian and bisexual people or joke-telling.

The final decision over who has "crossed the line" will rest with the police.

Criminal legislation on gay harassment follows the recent Sexual Orientation Regulations which make discrimination against gays an offence against civil law.

Last night a CofE spokesman said: "We will be scrutinising any legislation to ensure that it safeguards the safety and rights of minorities without jeopardising wider concerns for freedom of expression, including the expression of religious faith."

But Stonewall chief Ben Summerskill said: "We are crystal clear that this is not about constraining anyone from expressing their religious views in a temperate way.

"It is about preventing people from inciting hatred, whether through the lyrics of rap musicians or Muslim organisations which hand out leaflets saying that all homosexuals are paedophiles."

• Parents will be told if a paedophile posing a threat to their child moves into their home or street under amendments to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill introduced last night.

But there is still no general right for parents to ask if there is a paedophile living in their neighbourhood, as demanded by "Sarah's Law" campaigners after the murder of Sarah Payne seven years ago.

12-25-2008, 10:08 PM
William Cooper was definitely on to something...I pray to GOD that this shit is just a conspiracy theory and not the truth...:smh:

12-25-2008, 11:43 PM
S.F. fliers may pay their way in carbon usage (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/12/24/MNIR14PSQF.DTL&hw=airport+carbon+tax+kiosk&sn=001&sc=1000)

Environmentally conscious travelers flying out of San Francisco International Airport will soon be able to assuage their guilt and minimize the impact of their air travel by buying certified carbon offsets at airport kiosks.

The experimental program, scheduled to start this spring, would make SFO the first airport in the nation - possibly the world - to offer fliers the opportunity to purchase carbon offsets.

"We'd like people to stop and consider the impacts of flying," said Steve McDougal, executive vice president for 3Degrees, a San Francisco firm that sells renewable-energy and carbon-reduction investments and is teaming up with the airport and the city on the project. "Obviously, people need to fly sometimes. No one expects them to stop, but they should consider taking steps to reduce their impacts."

San Francisco's Airport Commission has authorized the program, which will involve a $163,000 investment from SFO, but is still working out the details with 3Degrees. Because of that, McDougal said, he can't yet discuss specifics, such as the cost to purchase carbon offsets and what programs would benefit from travelers' purchases.

But the general idea, officials said, is that a traveler would approach a kiosk resembling the self-service check-in stations used by airlines, then punch in his or her destination. The computer would calculate the carbon footprint and the cost of an investment to offset the damage. The traveler could then swipe a credit card to help save the planet. Travelers would receive a printed receipt listing the projects benefiting from their environmental largesse.

The carbon offsets are not tax deductible, said Krista Canellakis, a 3Degrees spokeswoman.

"While the carbon offsets purchased at kiosks can't be seen or touched, they are an actual product with a specific environmental claim whose ownership is transferred at the time of purchase," she said.

Mike McCarron, airport spokesman, said the projects offered will be chosen by the mayor's office, in conjunction with 3Degrees, from a list certified by the city's Environment Department. Airport Director John Martin told the commission that projects could include renewable energy ventures in developing countries, agriculture and organic waste capture, coal mine methane capture, and sustainable forestry.

Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom, said a portion of each offset purchase would go to the San Francisco Carbon Fund, which supports local projects such as energy-efficiency programs and solar panel installations for low-income housing, as well as efforts to convert waste oils into biodiesel fuels.

The cost of offsets for SFO travelers is still being negotiated, McDougal said, but figures on the company's Web-based "carbon calculator" suggest that a two-hour trip uses about 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per person, and the cost to offset that would be about $4. Offsetting a trip to Europe would cost $36.

"It's definitely not going to double your ticket or anything," he said. "It's going to end up being a small percentage of your total airfare."

Under the agreement, the airport will provide the kiosks and 3Degrees will supply the software and the certified carbon offsets being sold and will operate the program. Kiosks will be placed throughout the airport, with locations at the customer service desk in Terminal 3 and two wings of the International Terminal. 3Degrees will get 30 percent of each purchase, with the rest going to carbon-reduction projects. The agreement calls for a one-year program, with a possible extension.

"The carbon kiosks will not only reduce global warming," Ballard said, "they will serve an educational function. It's something interesting to do while you're killing time at the airport."

Given the innovative nature of the venture, airport officials said they don't expect 3Degrees will turn a profit - at least not at the outset. McDougal said it's impossible to predict how many passengers will want to make what is essentially a voluntary contribution to compensate for the impacts of their air travel. But he hopes the program takes off.

"Hopefully, it will be successful," he said. "But if we just have a lot of people stop and read the information and think about it, that's something we've accomplished."

12-27-2008, 11:54 PM

750,000 British Homes Are Empty (http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/UK-News/750000-British-Homes-Empty-Government-Action-Wanted-By-Royal-Institution-Of-Chartered-Surveyors/Article/200812415190886?lpos=UK_News_Second_Politics_Artic le_Teaser_Region_4&lid=ARTICLE_15190886_750%2C000_British_Homes_Empty %3A_Government_Action_Wanted_By_Royal_Institution_ Of_Chartered_Surveyors)

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said there were about 762,635 properties in the UK not being used, while there were 1.6m families on council house waiting lists.

The group said the homes could be filled, if the state took the right steps.

The Government has already announced a raft of measures to help homeowners avoid having their properties repossessed.

But little has been done to support those without a home, the RICS said.

Local authorities have powers to issue Empty Dwelling Management Orders on properties that have been vacant for at least six months.

The RICS said authorities needed to make it more attractive for the owners of empty properties to rent them out.

It suggested it could do this by cutting the VAT on all renovations and repairs from 15% to 5%.

RICS policy officer James Rowlands said: "Thousands of homes should not be allowed to stand empty while people are homeless or suffering from poor living conditions.

"The Government must use all its powers to bring these homes back into use by reducing VAT on repair of buildings and reinforcing council powers.

"Rather than allowing homes to sit empty, everyone should be able to celebrate Christmas in a home of their own."

12-29-2008, 10:06 PM

Israel: Don't even speak about peace (http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=79890&sectionid=351020202)

Israel's envoy to the United Nations says that there will be no negotiations about peace, as Tel Aviv attacks Gazan civilians for a third day.

Israel started an 'all-out' war on the Gaza Strip as of Saturday. At least 345 Palestinians have been killed and about 1,550 have been wounded, Palestinian Medics told Press TV on Monday.

When asked about possible peace in the future, Israel's envoy, Gabriela Shalev, told CNN on Monday, "Don't even speak about peace at this moment."

"The hope is that Hamas will understand finally that Israel has the right to defend itself and the duty to protect its citizens," Shalev said without mentioning the hundreds of civilian Palestinians that were killed in Israel's 'blind raids' on civilian infrastructures in the impoverished strip.

Meanwhile, Palestinian peace negotiator Hanan Ashrawi said that she does not accept Israel's argument that it is acting in self-defense.

"Israel is an occupying power," Ashwari said in another interview with CNN on Monday.

"In Gaza, they've been under siege for months now, deprived of the most basic needs. ... And now Israel has decided that if the victims do not lie down and die quietly, it's going to shell them relentlessly from the air," she added.

While the death toll in Gaza continues to rise, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon said Monday that the goal of the massive bombardment of the Gaza Strip is to topple Hamas.

The outgoing Bush administration has also thrown its full support behind Tel Aviv's bloody assault, blaming Hamas for provoking the offensive by firing rockets into Israel from Gaza.

"In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable ceasefire," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said earlier.

Palestinian resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip say they fire rockets into Israel in retaliation for the daily Israeli attacks against them. Unlike the state-of-the-art Israeli weapons and ammunition such as F-16 fighter jets that have killed hundreds, the homemade Qassam rockets rarely cause casualties.

12-29-2008, 10:11 PM

US apocalypse in 2010, scholar predicts (http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=79878&sectionid=3510203)

A former KGB analyst and Russian academic predicts a civil war in the United States which will lead to the eventual fall of the country.

Igor Panarin, doctor of political science and dean of the foreign affairs department at the Diplomacy Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry said while he does not dislike Americans, the outlook for them is gloomy.

He said he has based his forecast on classified data provided by analysts at the Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information (FAGCI). The Russian intelligence agency is one of the successors of KGB and an equivalent to the American National Security Agency (NSA).

Panarin believes that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war in the United States as early as the autumn of 2009.

The Russian scientist adds that the US will then break into six pieces in late June or early July 2010 -- with Alaska reverting to Russian control.

The Californian Republic, the Texas Republic, the Atlantic America -- consisting of Washington, DC, and New York --, the Central North American Republic - consisting of Canada and a group of Northern states - along with Hawaii are other five regions to be ruled by foreign powers.

His theory of the US demise was first introduced in 1998.

While Panarin's forecast seemed unrealistic at the time, the current global financial meltdown has lent credibility to his prediction.

"There's a 55-45% chance right now that disintegration will occur," Panarin said.

The US administration has so far refused to comment on the grim forecast made by the Russian scientist.

"I am perplexed and therefore I think I will have to decline to comment," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said at a December news conference.

01-01-2009, 07:35 PM
New year, new database madness (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/31/civilliberties-ken-macdonald-database-privacy)

The British government's passionate desire to gather and own permanent electronic records about everyone concerning everything shows no sign whatsoever of going away.

There's the NHS Spine; Contact Point, with half a million children's personal records on it for hundreds of thousands of people to see; the DNA database, containing five million UK citizen's records, most recently unanimously condemned by 17 Strasbourg judges; and of course the forthcoming mother of them all, the National Identity Register.

The former director of public prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, is quite right to call the latest proposals, for a multibillion-pound government database of everyone's communications traffic, including texts, phone calls and emails, "an unimaginable hellhouse of personal private information". The only thing he hasn't pointed out is that it has been in the plan for a very long time.

As has the close – indeed, some might say inseparable – relationship between the Home Office and the private IT sector.

Remember the beginning of 2007? That was whenJohn Higgins, the grandly named director general of Intellect, a UK trade association for the technology industry, publicly ticked off the then shadow home secretary, David Davis, for presuming to say that a Tory government would scrap the UK's identity cards scheme with its database-driven design.

Seeing a £19bn gravy train for his members possibly leaving town, the IT representative felt moved to warn: "The manner of this intervention ... will potentially make companies wary of entering into any public sector contracts at all."

"Technology is at the heart of delivering any public policy objectives of this and future governments," he went on to explain patiently to the shadow minister. And he offered a solution. "It is critical for you to work with Intellect to broker relations with these companies," he ordered. "Engagement with Intellect's members will help you understand the progress suppliers have made around the transformational government agenda."

What he meant was that the biggest private IT companies, some of whom are not British at all, are already being paid millions from the UK taxpayer's purse to take forward the Labour government's collection and ownership of as much electronic data about all of us as possible, to be shared between as many government agencies as possible and overseen by the Home Office. Communications data will be the next step in the general data-sharing free-for-all – which will be anything but free, having an unlimited price tag that merely begins at tens of billions.

No surprises there – and no surprise either that Davis called Higgins's comments both "incredible" and "insulting". But he should not, perhaps, have been all that taken aback. It was after all the Tories' policy of privatisation, come full circle and developed by New Labour, which ended up privatising all the IT expertise right out of Whitehall and into the hands of so-called "independent consultancies" in the late 1990s. Nobody warned at the time that this might be a bad thing.

By 2004, Nick Kalisperas of Intellect was stating openly that his organisation had been working closely with the Home Office since 2002, devising the UK's identity cards scheme: the world's first database state. Reporting to the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into identity cards, he said: "This is a crucial project for the IT industry and we are not willing to see it fail."

Indeed, it didn't fail. The Identity Cards Act became law in 2006.

So now we arrive here, at the beginning of 2009, in database mayhem. Our electronic information is being gathered at ever increasing speed. It is being kept everywhere from Newcastle to Iowa. It is unregulated and it is unaccounted for. It is being taken from cars, left on train seats, lost in the post, stolen left, right and centre by internet hackers of every stripe, by women's magazines keen to make a point, by schoolboys. Twenty five million of us have had our details compromised so far. And the government's greed for our private information is still not being reined in. As a Home Office spokesperson told me in 2005, "What's the ID system for? It's for the police."

Whether it's the public or the private sector that handles this morally compromised, wholly unjustifiable, technically unsustainable data-gathering exercise hardly matters, despite the protestations of some sectors of the IT and communications industry. What really matters is that it is being done at all.

01-03-2009, 12:27 PM

Vatican divorces from Italian law (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7807501.stm)

The Vatican City State, the world's smallest sovereign state, has decided to divorce itself from Italian law.

Vatican legal experts say there are too many laws in Italian civil and criminal codes, and that they frequently conflict with Church principles.

With effect from New Year's Day, the Pope has decided that the Vatican will no longer automatically adopt laws passed by the Italian parliament.

All Italian laws will be examined one by one before they are adopted.

Under the Lateran treaties signed exactly 80 years ago between Italy and the Pope, and the Italian Parliamentary system, Italian laws were applied automatically.

Government confession

A senior Vatican Canon lawyer, Monsignor Jose Maria Serrano Ruiz, has gone on record as saying that Italian laws are too many, too unstable and too often conflict with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

The reaction from the Italian government has been that from a technical point of view, the Vatican may well be right.

An Italian government minister admitted Italian laws are often badly written and are sometimes difficult to understand.

An Italian parliamentary commission is at present working out how to delete tens of thousands of obsolete laws from Italy's civil code.

The Vatican has also decided to scrutinise international treaties before deciding whether or not to adhere to them.

It has recently refused to approve a United Nations declaration decriminalising homosexuality.

The wording went too far, Vatican officials said, in placing different sexual orientations on the same level.

Some legal observers believe that the Vatican is simply trying to assert its legal independence in cases involving for example, civil unions, divorce, living wills, or euthanasia.

If Italy were to legalise same sex marriages or euthanasia, for example, the Vatican would now be able to refuse to recognise that.

01-04-2009, 11:12 PM
Police set to step up hacking of home PCs (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article5439604.ece)

THE Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across Britain routinely to hack into people’s personal computers without a warrant.

The move, which follows a decision by the European Union’s council of ministers in Brussels, has angered civil liberties groups and opposition MPs. They described it as a sinister extension of the surveillance state which drives “a coach and horses” through privacy laws.

The hacking is known as “remote searching”. It allows police or MI5 officers who may be hundreds of miles away to examine covertly the hard drive of someone’s PC at his home, office or hotel room.

Material gathered in this way includes the content of all e-mails, web-browsing habits and instant messaging.

Under the Brussels edict, police across the EU have been given the green light to expand the implementation of a rarely used power involving warrantless intrusive surveillance of private property. The strategy will allow French, German and other EU forces to ask British officers to hack into someone’s UK computer and pass over any material gleaned.

A remote search can be granted if a senior officer says he “believes” that it is “proportionate” and necessary to prevent or detect serious crime — defined as any offence attracting a jail sentence of more than three years.

However, opposition MPs and civil liberties groups say that the broadening of such intrusive surveillance powers should be regulated by a new act of parliament and court warrants.

They point out that in contrast to the legal safeguards for searching a suspect’s home, police undertaking a remote search do not need to apply to a magistrates’ court for a warrant.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, the human rights group, said she would challenge the legal basis of the move. “These are very intrusive powers – as intrusive as someone busting down your door and coming into your home,” she said.

“The public will want this to be controlled by new legislation and judicial authorisation. Without those safeguards it’s a devastating blow to any notion of personal privacy.”

She said the move had parallels with the warrantless police search of the House of Commons office of Damian Green, the Tory MP: “It’s like giving police the power to do a Damian Green every day but to do it without anyone even knowing you were doing it.”

Richard Clayton, a researcher at Cambridge University’s computer laboratory, said that remote searches had been possible since 1994, although they were very rare. An amendment to the Computer Misuse Act 1990 made hacking legal if it was authorised and carried out by the state.

He said the authorities could break into a suspect’s home or office and insert a “key-logging” device into an individual’s computer. This would collect and, if necessary, transmit details of all the suspect’s keystrokes. “It’s just like putting a secret camera in someone’s living room,” he said.

Police might also send an e-mail to a suspect’s computer. The message would include an attachment that contained a virus or “malware”. If the attachment was opened, the remote search facility would be covertly activated. Alternatively, police could park outside a suspect’s home and hack into his or her hard drive using the wireless network.

Police say that such methods are necessary to investigate suspects who use cyberspace to carry out crimes. These include paedophiles, internet fraudsters, identity thieves and terrorists.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said such intrusive surveillance was closely regulated under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. A spokesman said police were already carrying out a small number of these operations which were among 194 clandestine searches last year of people’s homes, offices and hotel bedrooms.

“To be a valid authorisation, the officer giving it must believe that when it is given it is necessary to prevent or detect serious crime and [the] action is proportionate to what it seeks to achieve,” Acpo said.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, agreed that the development may benefit law enforcement. But he added: “The exercise of such intrusive powers raises serious privacy issues. The government must explain how they would work in practice and what safeguards will be in place to prevent abuse.”

The Home Office said it was working with other EU states to develop details of the proposals.

01-05-2009, 12:03 PM

01-05-2009, 07:20 PM
Russia wants warships stationed around the world (http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE5031OB20090104)

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's military leaders approved a plan by the navy on Sunday to station warships permanently in friendly ports across the globe.

Underfunded since the 1991 break up of the Soviet Union, the Russian navy has been reasserting itself over the last year by chasing Somali pirates around the coast of east Africa and steaming across the Atlantic to visit allies in South America.

"The General Staff has given its position on this issue and it fully supports the position of the (Navy's) main committee," deputy chief of staff Colonel-General Anatoly Nogovitsyn told RIA Novosti news agency.

A resurgent navy has become central to a strategy for Russia -- which enjoyed a decade of economic revival from 1998 -- to project itself in foreign affairs.

In August a Russian diplomat said the navy was to make more use of a Syrian Mediterranean Sea port. Last month a Russian warship cruised off Cuba after visiting South America for the first time since 1991.

Nogovitsyn said Russia was directly negotiating with foreign governments to station warships at bases around the world permanently, although he declined to give exact details.

"Nobody can predict where problems could flare up," he said. "What we need are permanent bases, but these are very costly. They need to be considered very carefully."

RIA Novosti wrote that the Russian navy was already in negotiations to build a permanent Black Sea Port in the Russia-backed breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia.

01-09-2009, 06:21 PM
Henry Kissinger on CNBC calling for a New World Order (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aROay5kufxc)

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01-09-2009, 09:13 PM
NAU in the open now? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-mlyyvRdK8)

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Thank you for this one, sorry I missed it. I knew when Obama made it to office the NAU would pop up again. Like it or not Obama is not Pres. of the USA , but the Pres. of this new confederation. It WILL be initiated after the economy crashes. Count on it.

01-10-2009, 06:42 PM
Ron Paul - Israel Created Hamas (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yb3vF6Vcjr0)

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01-12-2009, 05:58 PM
Washington is Tel Aviv's main ally.

Olmert: I told US not to vote for Gaza resolution (http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=81953&sectionid=351020202)

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says that he told President Bush not to vote in favor of the United Nations' last week resolution on Gaza.

"I told him (Bush) the United States could not vote in favor. It cannot vote in favor of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favor," said Olmert on Monday.

Last Thursday, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1860, calling for an immediate ceasefire between Hamas and Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip and an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. The US was the only country that abstained while fourteen of the council's 15 members voted in favor of the resolution.

According to Olmert, Bush had ordered Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to abstain.

"In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favor," Olmert said in a speech in the southern town of Ashkelon.

"I said 'get me President Bush on the phone'. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I did not care. 'I need to talk to him now'. He got off the podium and spoke to me," he added.

Despite worldwide condemnation of Israeli military campaign in Gaza, the Bush administration blamed Hamas for provoking Tel Aviv by firing rockets into Israel from coastal region.

Hamas, the democratically-elected government of the Gaza Strip, demands the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces, the opening of Gaza's border crossings and a cessation of an 18-month Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave -- home to some 1.5 million Palestinians.

Israel's three-week-old offensive on the Gaza Strip has claimed more than 919 Palestinians lives and has wounded more than 4,100.

01-13-2009, 09:14 PM
Blankey: Reinstate draft for Pakistan invasion (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esRjcwyjUUU)

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01-14-2009, 06:05 PM
9/11 Truth Written into Script for "Rescue Me" TV Show (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zu551QLGJog)

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01-14-2009, 06:11 PM
US veterans sue CIA for alleged drug and mind control experiments ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/12/cia-veterans-drug-test-mind-control)

Plaintiffs seek to force the government to contact all the subjects of the testing

It was 1968, and Frank Rochelle was 20 years old and fresh out of Army boot camp when he saw notices posted around his base in Virginia asking for volunteers to test uniforms and equipment.

That might be a good break after the harsh weeks of boot camp, he thought, and signed up.

Instead of equipment testing, though, the Onslow county, North Carolina, native found himself in a bizarre, CIA-funded drug testing and mind-control programme, according to a lawsuit that he and five other veterans and Vietnam Veterans of America filed last week. The suit was filed in federal court in San Francisco against the US department of defence and the CIA.

The plaintiffs seek to force the government to contact all the subjects of the experiments and give them proper healthcare.

The experiments have been the subject of congressional hearings, and in 2003 the US department of veterans affairs released a pamphlet that said nearly 7,000 soldiers had been involved and more than 250 chemicals used on them, including hallucinogens such as LSD and PCP as well as biological and chemical agents.

Lasting from 1950 to 1975, the experiments took place at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland. According to the lawsuit, some of the volunteers were even implanted with electrical devices in an effort to control their behaviour.

Rochelle, 60, who has come back to live in Onslow county, said in an interview that there were about two dozen volunteers when he was taken to Edgewood. Once there, they were asked to volunteer a second time, for drug testing. They were told that the experiments were harmless and that their health would be carefully monitored, not just during the tests but afterward, too.

The doctors running the experiments, though, couldn't have known the drugs were safe, because safety was one of the things they were trying to find out, Rochelle said.

"We volunteered, yes, but we were not fully aware of the dangers," he said. "None of us knew the kind of drugs they gave us, or the after-effects they'd have."

Rochelle said he was given just one breath of a chemical in aerosol form that kept him drugged for two and a half days, struggling with visions. He said he saw animals coming out of the walls and his freckles moving like bugs under his skin. At one point, he tried to cut the freckles out with a razor.

Not all the men in his group tested drugs. But he said even those who just tested equipment were mistreated.

"Their idea of testing a gas mask was to give you a faulty one and put you in a gas chamber," he said. "It was just diabolical."

The tests lasted about two months. Later, Rochelle was sent to Vietnam.

Now he's rated 60% disabled by the veterans affairs department, he said, and has struggled to keep his civilian job working on US marine bases. He has breathing problems, and his short-term memory is so bad that he once left his son at a gas station.

Among other problems, he said, his doctor diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and said it came from the drug experiment. He has trouble sleeping and still sometimes has visions from the drug, he said.

A big goal of the lawsuit, Rochelle said, is to get the word out to the thousands of soldiers who were tested. Some may have forgotten all about the tests and not know that's why they now have health problems.

01-22-2009, 03:41 AM
US veterans sue CIA for alleged drug and mind control experiments ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/12/cia-veterans-drug-test-mind-control)


01-23-2009, 05:52 PM

Deadly missiles strike Pakistan (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7847423.stm)

Two missile attacks from suspected US drones have killed 14 people in north-western Pakistan, officials say.

At least one missile hit a house in a village near the town of Mirali in North Waziristan, a stronghold of al-Qaeda and Taleban militants.

A second suspected drone attack has been reported in South Waziristan, killing five people.

Pakistan has long argued that such strikes are counter-productive and are a violation of its sovereignty.

These are the first drone attacks since Barack Obama was inaugurated as US president on Tuesday.

Pakistani leaders had expressed hope that the new US administration would halt the controversial air strikes, saying they fuelled public anger and complicated Pakistan's own counter-insurgency efforts.

Meanwhile, two security personnel were killed when a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a military checkpoint in the Fizzagat area of the Swat Valley in north-western Pakistan.

Swat plays host to frequent battles between the Pakistani army and Islamic militants trying to enforce a strict form of Islamic law set down by Mullah Fazlullah, a radical cleric.

'Militants killed'

The first drone attack struck a house owned by a man called Khalil Khan in the village of Zeerakai at 1700 local time.

Four Arab militants were killed in the strikes, officials said. Their identities were not immediately clear but officials said one was a senior al-Qaeda operative.

The second attack was aimed at the house of a Taleban commander about 10km (six miles) from the town of Wanna, local reports said.

But officials told the BBC that the drone actually hit the house of a pro-government tribal leader, killing him and four members of his family, including a five-year-old child.

More than 20 attacks have been carried out from drones on targets in north-western Pakistan in recent months, sparking protests from Pakistan's government.

On Thursday, President Obama appointed Richard Holbrooke as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, having promised that his administration would continue to tackle the threats posed by extremists in both countries.

Earlier on Friday, a roadside bomb exploded on the outskirts of Mingora town as a security patrol was passing.

Eyewitnesses said the security forces opened fire and killed three passers-by, but the security forces denied being responsible for the deaths.

01-26-2009, 05:50 PM
Iceland's government collapses over financial crisis (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090126/wl_nm/us_iceland;_ylt=AmLmw_G_6YZSyLLaESO7bk1m.3QA)

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) – Iceland's ruling coalition collapsed on Monday under pressure from sometimes violent demonstrations, the first government to fall as a direct result of the global economic crisis.

Jubilant protesters honked horns and banged pots and pans outside Iceland's Althing parliament after the news the government had fallen. It was not immediately clear who might be able to form a new administration or how quickly.

Prime Minister Geir Haarde handed in his resignation to President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson after talks to save his government failed. Grimsson said he was unlikely to give any party a mandate to form a new government until Tuesday.

"It's very natural that the president will first sound out if there is a majority to be found in parliament," he said. "I have asked everyone in the current (administration) to continue to do their jobs until a new government has been formed."

The global financial crisis hit Iceland in October, ending a decade of rising prosperity in a matter of days by triggering a collapse in the currency and financial system.

Iceland was forced to seek an IMF-led bailout and economic output is expected to shrink as much as 10 percent this year, resulting in thousands of lost jobs.

Protests became a regular fixture in the usually tranquil nation of 320,000, putting heavy pressure on the coalition of Haarde's Independence Party and the Social Democratic Alliance.

"These latest developments mean that the country is currently without a government and no one can say with any certainty what happens next," said politics professor Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson at the University of Iceland.

Some analysts have expressed concern at the possibility that a new Icelandic government might clash with the IMF. The Washington-based lender said on Monday it would support Reykjavik as long as "appropriate" policies were in place.


The IMF pushed Iceland to drive up interest rates to a record high late last year, adding financial pain to Icelanders fuming over their leaders' failure -- until now -- to accept responsibility for the crisis.

On Sunday, Iceland's commerce minister directly acknowledged his role in the crisis and announced his own resignation.

Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Gisladottir, the Social Democratic leader once seen as a possible replacement for Haarde, said she would not seek the job and would take a leave of absence for one or two months.

Gisladottir was in Sweden last week undergoing treatment for a brain tumor, which turned out to be benign.

"I have not met the leaders of the Left-Greens and Progressive parties but if what they have been expressing in the media is true, I believe that we could probably reach an agreement about a coalition," she told reporters.

The Social Democrats have been in favor of membership of the European Union, an idea many on the island now like as they believe it could have helped the economy during the crisis.

Other political parties have also been warming toward EU membership, which the Independents have long opposed, partly over fears about the impact on the important fishing industry.

Kristinsson said a minority government of the Social Democrats and the Left-Greens was most likely.

Haarde said he had had informal talks with opposition leaders to discuss the possibility of a national unity government under his party's leadership, but one analyst said he thought the public would demand change.

Under Iceland's constitution, the president is charged with finding a new government with sufficient parliamentary backing.


It was unclear on Monday if elections would be held in May or earlier or if a new coalition could be formed under the current mandate, which runs to 2011.

But many of those calling for change expressed joy.

"We are very happy and optimistic today," playwright Snorri Hauksson told Reuters. "I think the public deserves a celebration, but of course we realize that there are troubled times ahead and not all our demands have been met."

Polls show both former coalition parties trailing the Left-Greens, suggesting a shift in power is likely.

International trade in the Icelandic crown has dried up, as has trade in Icelandic credit default swaps, which insure investors against the risk of default.

Meanwhile, efforts to revive currency trade run the risk of further disruption as many are speculating central bank chief David Oddsson may be the next to go. Gisladottir has called for Oddsson's resignation, as have thousands of protesters.

In announcing her intention to step back from the current political turmoil, Gisladottir proposed Social Affairs Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir could be a candidate for prime minister.

01-27-2009, 11:00 AM
U.N. crime chief says drug money flowed into banks (http://www.iht.com/articles/reuters/2009/01/25/europe/OUKWD-UK-FINANCIAL-UN-DRUGS.php)

VIENNA: The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year.

"In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor."

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that "interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities," Costa was quoted as saying. There were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way."

Profil said Costa declined to identify countries or banks which may have received drug money and gave no indication how much cash might be involved. He only said Austria was not on top of his list, Profil said.

01-27-2009, 06:55 PM

Biden vows more strikes inside Pakistan (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=83794&sectionid=351020401)

US Vice President Joe Biden emphasizes that Pentagon would not hesitate to launch strikes inside Pakistani territories near the Afghan border.

"I can say that the President of the United States said during his campaign and in the debates that if there is an actionable target, of a high-level al-Qaeda personnel, that he would not hesitate to use action to deal with that," Pakistani media quoted him on Monday.

The remarks come after 22 people were killed in two separate US missile strikes in the Waziristan region, on Friday.

US commanders said they had consulted President Barack Obama before launching recent drone attacks on Pakistan's tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

"Four days after assuming the presidency, he (Obama) was consulted by US commanders before they launched the two attacks," Guardian said Sunday.

Earlier, Obama had threatened to invade and send ground troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists - even without permission from Pakistan's Government.

Obama has also hinted at increased operations in Pakistan, saying he thought George W. Bush had made a mistake in switching to Iraq before completing the job against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Obama has made the war in Afghanistan and what the US calls the intertwined fight with al-Qaeda and Taliban in Pakistan a foreign policy priority. He has emphasized that Pakistan and Afghanistan are the central front in the US so-called war against terrorism.

Meanwhile Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday said he will take up the issue with world leaders at an upcoming economic summit in Davos, Switzerland.

Gilani was also of the opinion that the US policy in Afghanistan had not been successful as the situation in the neighboring country was not normal and violence has taken a surge.

The tribal regions along the shared border between Pakistan and Afghanistan became safe havens for militants after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 toppled the Taliban regime, sending insurgents across the border.

The US and its western allies have accused Pakistan of 'not doing enough' to prevent attacks on supply routes as well as cross-border operations carried out by insurgents against foreign troops in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon has used this as a pretext to launch drone attacks on Pakistan's tribal regions -- a move that has increased tension between Islamabad and Washington and has triggered anti-American sentiments among the Pakistani people.

Over 500 people -- suspected militants as well as civilians -- have been killed in such attacks.

Pakistan says that the drone attacks undermine the country's sovereignty and trigger public anger, which undermines the country's counter-terrorism efforts.

US drones have carried out at least 33 missile strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas since the new Pakistani government came to power in March last year.

Pakistan's influential army has repeatedly claimed readiness to defend the country's sovereignty even if it entails clashing with US and NATO forces along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

01-27-2009, 07:35 PM

01-29-2009, 10:15 AM

Former CIA station chief target of rape inquiry (http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/01/28/cia.rape.allegations/)

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A former CIA station chief in Algeria is under investigation by the State and Justice departments after being accused of raping at least two women while he held the post, a source confirmed to CNN on Wednesday.

The women told investigators that they think date-rape drugs were used in the assaults, which are said to have occurred at the officer's official residence, according to the source.

The story was first reported by ABC News.

The allegations were made in the fall, when the unidentified officer was still serving as station chief. In October, soon after the allegations were made, the man returned to the United States for a previously scheduled trip and was ordered not to return to his post, the source said.

A senior U.S. official confirmed that the case is under investigation but refused to comment on the details.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood issued a brief statement in response to a CNN inquiry, saying that "the individual in question has returned to Washington and the U.S. government is looking into the matter," and referring reporters to the Justice Department.

The women, who are Algerian citizens, brought their allegations to a U.S. government official, and federal authorities then launched an investigation.

A search of the station chief's residence in Algeria was approved by a U.S. District Court judge after a request from the Justice Department. The search found pills believed to be of a type commonly used in date rape, the source said.

In that search, authorities also found about a dozen tapes that are thought to show the officer engaged in sexual acts, the source said, including some in which women are believed to be in a semiconscious state. CNN's source had not seen the tapes but had been briefed on their content. Some of the tapes include date stamps indicating that the recordings happened when he would have been serving in Cairo, Egypt, before his tenure in Algeria.

The investigation includes his time in both posts as well as other locations where he traveled.

The identity of the officer could not be learned, and CNN was unable to reach a representative of the officer. It is against the law to reveal identities of covert officers.

When the allegations surfaced in the fall, they were viewed as "tremendously explosive, no doubt about that," the source said, especially because Algeria is a Muslim country.

The Justice Department and the CIA would not comment on the allegations or any investigation.

"I can assure you that the agency would take seriously and follow up any allegations of impropriety," CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said.

The officer has not been charged, the source said. The source would not speak for attribution because the investigation is ongoing and the source was not authorized to speak publicly.

One federal law enforcement source said that no developments or activities relating to the case are "imminent."

A station chief heads the CIA's office in a foreign country, establishing a relationship with its host intelligence service and overseeing agency activities in the country.

01-29-2009, 04:24 PM
Officials: Army suicides at 3-decade high (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090129/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/army_suicides)

WASHINGTON – Suicides among U.S. soldiers rose last year to the highest level in decades, the Army announced Thursday. At least 128 soldiers killed themselves in 2008. But the final count is likely to be considerably higher because 15 more suspicious deaths are still being investigated and could also turn out to be self-inflicted, the Army said.

A new training and prevention effort will start next week. And Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatric consultant to the Army surgeon general, made a plea for more U.S. mental health professionals to sign on to work for the military.

"We are hiring and we need your help," she said.

The new suicide figure compares with 115 in 2007 and 102 in 2006 and is the highest since record keeping began in 1980. Officials calculate the deaths at a rate of roughly 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers — which is higher than the adjusted civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War, officials told a Pentagon news conference.

"We need to move quickly to do everything we can to reverse this disturbing ... number," Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said.

Officials have said that troops are under tremendous and unprecedented stress because of repeated and long tours of duty due to the simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The stress has placed further burdens on an overwhelmed military health care system also trying to tend to huge numbers of troops suffering from post-traumatic stress, depression and other mental health problems as well as physical wounds and injuries of tens of thousands.

Yearly increases in suicides have been recorded since 2004, when there were 64 — only about half the number now. And they've occurred despite increased training, prevention programs and psychiatric staff.

When studying individual cases, officials said they found that the most common factors for suicides were soldiers suffering problems with their personal relationships, legal or financial issues and problems on the job.

The statistics released Thursday cover soldiers who killed themselves while they were on active duty — including National Guard and Reserve troops who had been activated.

The previous year's rate of suicides — 18.8 per 100,000 soldiers — had also been the highest on record. But the new pace of 20.2 per 100,000 was the first time the rate surpassed the civilian number, when adjusted to reflect the Army's younger and male-heavy demographics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the suicide rate for U.S. society overall was about 11 per 100,000 in 2004, the latest year for which the agency has figures. But the Army says the civilian rate is more like 19.5 per 100,000 when adjusted.

The new estimated rate of 20.2 is more than double the 9.8 in 2002 — the first full year after the start of the war in Afghanistan

The new Army statistics follow a report earlier this month showing that the Marine Corps recorded more suicides last year than any year since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

That report said 41 Marines were possible or confirmed suicides in 2008, or 16.8 per 100,000 troops. The Marine rate remained unchanged from the previous year.

Marine and Army units have borne most of duty in the two wars, which have required more use of ground forces to fight the insurgencies.

The numbers kept by the service branches don't show the whole picture of war-related suicides because they don't include deaths after people have left the military. The Department of Veterans Affairs tracks those numbers and says there were 144 suicides among the nearly 500,000 service members who left the military from 2002-2005 after fighting in at least one of the two ongoing wars.

The true incidence of suicide among military veterans is not known, according to a report last year by the Congressional Research Service. Based on numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the VA estimates that 18 veterans a day — or 6,500 a year — take their lives, but that number includes vets from all previous wars.

"The suicide numbers released today come as no surprise to the veterans' community who has experienced the psychological toll of war," said Paul Rieckhoff, director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "But we cannot let current trend lines continue. These are preventable deaths for which the Department of Defense and the VA can and must take bold action."

01-31-2009, 11:53 AM
EU aims to swallow Iceland before its people can change their minds (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/daniel_hannan/blog/2009/01/30/eu_aims_to_swallow_iceland_before_its_people_can_c hange_their_minds)

The Guardian slaps an "exclusive" label on its main story: "Iceland to be fast-tracked into the EU". Regular readers will recall that this blog carried the same story a month ago.

The new Social Democratic government is preparing to make a formal application in April, which Brussels plans to rush through before Icelanders get the chance to change their minds.

You can see what's in it for the EU: Iceland will be a handy source of energy and of fish, as well as a net contributor to the budget. More to the point, it will no longer refute by its example the notion that small countries cannot survive outside regional blocs - a notion on which European integration depends.

What, though, is in it for Iceland? True, the krona has been devalued. But joining the euro would lock in the present exchange rate in perpetuity - and would, at the same time, lumber the little island with the Social Chapter, the 48-hour week, the Common Agricultural Policy and the rest of the apparatus of Euro-dirigisme. More to the point, Iceland is a successful democracy, with high voter turnout, responsive politicians and the oldest parliament in the world. EU membership would replace its parliamentary model with a corporatist one in which 84 per cent of legislation is proposed by unelected European Commissioners.

The truth is that Icelanders are shocked and angry - not least at Gordon Brown, whose treatment of them is perhaps the most shameful betrayal of a friendly country in British history. Understandably, they want to lash out, and the obvious target is the Independence Party, which has been the dominant political force in Icelandic politics for half a century, and which presided over the recent crash (as well as the extraordinary prosperity of the previous 18 years - but, of course, no one is thinking about that at the moment). Since the Independence Party has traditionally opposed EU membership, supporting the EU is one way for people to express their loss of faith in their leaders.

Icelanders, like all Northern peoples, are prone to moodiness; but they are also pragmatists, heirs to a long line of canny farmers and fishermen. When their gloom lifts, they will make a hard-headed assessment of the costs and benefits of EU membership. Once they run the numbers, things will look very different.

01-31-2009, 01:14 PM
Well, oneofmany, judging from the wide variety of posts in this thread, it looks like every thing constitutes "the Beast System: Laying The Foundation Of The Beast."

01-31-2009, 03:36 PM
Taking photos of police officers could be considered a crime ( http://www.bjp-online.com/public/showPage.html?page=836646)

The relationship between photographers and police could worsen next month when new laws are introduced that allow for the arrest and imprisonment of anyone who takes pictures of officers 'likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.'

Set to become law on 16 February, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 amends the Terrorism Act 2000 regarding offences relating to information about members of armed forces, a member of the intelligence services, or a police officer.

The new set of rules, under section 76 of the 2008 Act and section 58A of the 2000 Act, will target anyone who ‘elicits or attempts to elicit information about [members of armed forces] … which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’.

A person found guilty of this offence could be liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years, and to a fine.

The law is expected to increase the anti-terrorism powers used today by police officers to stop photographers, including press photographers, from taking pictures in public places. ‘Who is to say that police officers won’t abuse these powers,’ asks freelance photographer Justin Tallis, who was threatened by an officer last week.

Tallis, a London-based photographer, was covering the anti-BBC protest on Saturday 24 January when he was approached by a police officer. Tallis had just taken a picture of the officer, who then asked to see the picture. The photographer refused, arguing that, as a press photographer, he had a right to take pictures of police officers.

According to Tallis, the officer then tried to take the camera away. Before giving up, the officer said that Tallis ’shouldn’t have taken that photo, you were intimidating me’. The incident was caught on camera by photojournalist Marc Vallée.

Tallis is a member of the National Union of Journalists and the British Press Photographers’ Association. ‘The incident lasted just 10 seconds, but you don’t expect a police officer to try to pull your camera from your neck,’ Tallis tells BJP.

01-31-2009, 03:58 PM

Humans 'will be implanted with microchips' (http://news.ninemsn.com.au/technology/735519/humans-will-be-implanted-with-microchips)

All Australians could be implanted with microchips for tracking and identification within the next two or three generations, a prominent academic says.

Michael G Michael from the University of Wollongong's School of Information Systems and Technology, has coined the term "uberveillance" to describe the emerging trend of all-encompassing surveillance.

"Uberveillance is not on the outside looking down, but on the inside looking out through a microchip that is embedded in our bodies," Dr Michael told ninemsn.

Microchips are commonly implanted into animals to reveal identification details when scanned and similar devices have been used with Alzheimers patients.

US company VeriChip is already using implantable microchips, which store a 16-digit unique identification number, on humans for medical purposes.

"Our focus is on high-risk patients, and our product's ability to identify them and their medical records in an emergency," spokesperson Allison Tomek said.

"We do not know when or if someone will develop an implantable microchip with GPS technology, but it is not an application we are pursuing."

Another form of uberveillance is the use of bracelets worn by dangerous prisoners which use global positioning systems to pinpoint their movements.

But Dr Michael said the technology behind uberveillance would eventually lead to a black box small enough to fit on a tiny microchip and implanted in our bodies.

This could also allow someone to be located in an emergency or for the identification of corpses after a large scale disaster or terrorist attack.

"This black box will then be a witness to our actual movements, words — perhaps even our thoughts —-and play a similar role to the black box placed in an aircraft," he said.

He also predicted that microchip implants and their infrastructure could eliminate the need for e-passports, e-tags, and secure ID cards.

"Microchipping I think will eventually become compulsory in the context of identification within the frame of national security," he said.

Although uberveillance was only in its early phases, Dr Michael's wife, Katina Michael — a senior lecturer from UOW's School of Information Systems and Technology — said the ability to track and identify any individual was already possible.

"Anyone with a mobile phone can be tracked to 15m now," she said, pointing out that most mobile phone handsets now contained GPS receivers and radio frequency identification (RFID) readers.

"The worst scenario is the absolute loss of human rights," she said.

Wisconsin, North Dakota and four other states in the US have already outlawed the use of enforced microchipping.

"Australia hasn't got specific regulations addressing these applications," she said.

"We need to address the potential for misuse by amending privacy laws to ensure personal data protection."

Uberveillance has been nominated for Macquarie Dictionary's Word of the Year 2008.

02-01-2009, 01:07 AM
Well, oneofmany, judging from the wide variety of posts in this thread, it looks like every thing constitutes "the Beast System: Laying The Foundation Of The Beast."

:lol: Duh oh wise mod.:lol:

02-01-2009, 02:48 AM
Russia rocked by financial crisis protests (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/01/russia-protests-vladivostok-moscow)

A wave of protests swept across Russia yesterday in one of the first signs of mass discontent with the Kremlin's handling of the financial crisis.

More than 2,500 people attended a demonstration in Vladivostok against the government's decision to raise import tariffs on cars.

In Moscow, about 2,000 gathered at protests uniting civil rights activists, communists and pensioners disgruntled at rising food and utility bills. There were smaller demonstrations in other cities. It was the first time such diverse groups had co-ordinated activities to direct their anger at president Dmitry Medvedev and prime minister Vladimir Putin.

In Moscow, one of the leaders of the Other Russia movement, Eduard Limonov, was surrounded by riot police as he arrived at a central square. As he was arrested, Limonov said: "The government is bailing out its friends in banking corporations but doing nothing to help ordinary Russians survive this crisis."

02-01-2009, 06:16 PM
Student withdrawn from UK school over CCTV in toilets (http://www.securityinfowatch.com/online/article.jsp?siteSection=305&id=19760)

A Teenage pupil has been withdrawn from her school after CCTV cameras were installed in the pupils' toilets.

Anthony White, from Llandysul said the cameras at Ysgol Dyffryn Teifi in Ceredigion were an "outrageous invasion" of his daughter Jade's privacy. Jade, 14, said: "I am not going back while the cameras are there. It must be against the law to have them there."

Mr White said: "The school is being pathetic. They don't need security cameras in toilets - certainly not in schools."

Ceredigion Council said it had installed the cameras after incidents of "major concern".

Spokeswoman Anwen Francis said: "Any such viewing of CCTV footage is undertaken by senior members of staff having Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) clearance."

02-01-2009, 09:23 PM

Call for two-child limit on families from the Government's leading green adviser (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1133316/Call-child-limit-families-Governments-leading-green-adviser.html)

Couples who have more than two children are putting an ‘irresponsible’ burden on the environment, the Government’s leading green adviser
has warned.

Jonathon Porritt called on ministers to take action to reduce population growth in Britain, and criticised fellow green campaigners for ducking the ‘controversial’ issue.

Mr Porritt, chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission, which advises the Government on green matters, said the SDC was due to publish a report on the subject next month.

It is thought he wants the Government to divert money away from curing illnesses so it can fight global warming by funding family-planning services, including abortion and contraception.

Mr Porritt, a father of two, said: ‘I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate.

'I think we will work our way towards a position that says having more than two children is irresponsible.

‘It is the ghost at the table. We have all these big issues that everybody is looking at and then you don’t really hear anyone say the P-word [population].

‘My mission with the Friends of the Earths and the Greenpeaces of this world is to say, “You are betraying the interests of your members by refusing to address population issues and you are doing it for the wrong reasons because you think it is too controversial”.’

He added: ‘We still have one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in Europe and we still have relatively high rates of pregnancies going to birth, often among women who are not convinced they wish to become mothers.'

Britain's population of 61million is forecast to exceed 70million by 2028. The birth rate is now at its highest for almost 30 years, largely because of high immigrant birth rates, and because of our high teenage pregnancy rates.

But Mr Porritt’s views caused outrage among anti-abortion campaigners.

A spokesman for the Pro-life Alliance said: ‘The unpleasant aspect of this is the idea that how many children you have should be down to the state.

'Wherever we have seen such policies being imposed, such as in China, we have seen a preference for male children and a rise in infanticide.’

The row came as the Roman Catholic Church, which views contraception as ‘intrinsically evil’, compared environmentalism to Marxism.

A booklet by the London-based Catholic Truth Society, a charity under the patronage of Peter Smith, the Archbishop of Cardiff, said environmental lobby tended to exaggerate the threat to vindicate its calls for radical Government measures.

The book, Global Warming: How Should We Respond?, says: ‘Just as Marxism advocated communism as the only solution to the world’s ills, so Greens warn us of major catastrophe if we do not adopt their calls for radical change.’

It says the ideology of the Green movement runs counter to Christian beliefs, because it sees ‘mankind as just one species among many’.

The book says that population programmes targeting the 'supposedly feckless breeding' of the poor, especially in developing countries, were the result of racist and unfounded prejudices.

'Environmental campaigns which demand that the natural world should be treated with greater respect imply that this is the only issue that matters, ignoring the plight of humanity or any spiritual values,' it said.

02-04-2009, 06:21 PM
Teens Face Daytime Curfew In Dallas (http://cbs11tv.com/local/dallas.curfew.changes.2.901898.html)

DALLAS (CBS 11 News) - During the school year, young people should be in class. But truancy has become such a problem, the Dallas City Council is considering expanding its current child and teen curfew to include the daytime.

Currently, teens under 17 years old can't be out past 11 p.m. during the week and midnight on weekends.

"For me, it's like the night time curfew is enough for me," Kristle Castaneda agrues. "It (a change) wouldn't be reasonable at all."

Annette Offord, a 10th grader who was not in class during the day Tuesday, doesn't like it, either.

She says she's not in because she was trying to get enrolled at another school.

City officials hope the tighter policy will curb truancy, which Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Elba Garcia says has been linked to residential burglaries.

She adds the exact details of the plan are not finalized, but the city is working with Dallas ISD. Among the ideas is a facility where truant students can stay if they are caught breaking the curfew.

The fine for breaking curfew could reach $500.

Some parents call the proposed measures unfair.

"I really believe that enforcing a curfew like that would only put more responsibilities on the parents," Dallas mother Christina Penate says. "We are the ones who have to pay the fines the money comes out of our pockets."

Garcia said the council could vote on the curfew changes as early as next month.

02-05-2009, 02:51 PM
Controversial measure would require DNA sampling at arrest (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/2008704869_dna04m0.html)

OLYMPIA — Suspects arrested in cases as minor as shoplifting would have to give a DNA sample before they are even charged with a crime if a controversial proposal is approved by the Legislature.

State criminal defense groups and the American Civil Liberties Union say the House bill is unconstitutional. It would mandate that police or jail staff collect DNA from all adults and juveniles arrested on suspicion of a felony or gross misdemeanor.

More than a dozen states already allow law enforcement to collect DNA from suspects before they are convicted. Three more states, including Washington, are considering such proposals this year.

"It is good technology. It solves crimes," said Don Pierce, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, which has long pushed for DNA tests at the time of arrest. "We take fingerprints at the time of arrest, which in many ways is a lot more intrusive."

Currently, police in Washington state collect DNA from people convicted of a felony and many misdemeanor sex-related crimes after they are sentenced. Police must get a search warrant or permission from the suspect to obtain DNA before a conviction.

The sample usually is taken by swabbing the inside of a person's cheek.

A separate bill in the Senate also would allow for DNA collection before conviction — but only after formal charges are filed.

The House bill, HB-1382, is sponsored by Rep. Mark Miloscia, D- Federal Way. He testified in support of his bill Tuesday before the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee. The committee could vote on the measure as early as today.

"This bill would take the next step in the use of DNA technology to help catch individuals who have gone out and harmed people," Miloscia said.

The DNA would be submitted to the State Patrol and the FBI databases, which are used to match suspects with unsolved crimes. Under the bill, authorities would destroy samples and DNA profiles obtained from people who weren't charged, were found not guilty or whose convictions were overturned.

Miloscia said each DNA test costs $82. A rough estimate shows the program could cost $1 million over two years.

Miloscia suggested that the state could apply for federal money to help cover the cost, and legislative staff said fees charged to certain criminals also could offset the cost. Prosecutors, however, said only a small percentage of those ordered to pay the fees actually do.

Jack King, staff attorney for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Washington, D.C., said his organization has been fighting similar DNA-collection proposals since 2004.

"DNA samples reveal the most personal, private information about a person's physical and mental makeup," King said. "It is terribly unfair to an arrestee."

King said he believes that seizing biological evidence before conviction violates constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Shankar Narayan, legislative director of the ACLU of Washington, said Miloscia's bill "takes the presumption of innocence and turns it on its head."

"The fact is that a lot of people who are arrested aren't charged with anything. Even people who are charged might never be convicted," Narayan said.

Pierce, the executive director of the sheriffs and police chiefs association, said he believes the bill's passage will hinge on funding and the ability of the Washington State Patrol to process the samples. The patrol's crime lab has long faced a backlog of work.

Sen. Debbie Regala, a Tacoma Democrat who's a sponsor of the Senate DNA bill, said routinely collecting DNA at the time of arrest is worrisome.

Unlike the House bill, which would increase the number of crimes that require DNA collection, SB-5026 would take samples only in cases already outlined under the existing state statute.

Regala expects her bill will pass through committee in the coming days. The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys supports the Senate measure; the ACLU opposes the bill.

02-08-2009, 11:19 AM

Government plans travel database (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7877182.stm)

The government is compiling a database to track and store the international travel records of millions of Britons.

Computerised records of all 250 million journeys made by individuals in and out of the UK each year will be kept for up to 10 years.

The government says the database is essential in the fight against crime, illegal immigration and terrorism.

But opposition MPs and privacy campaigners fear it is a significant step towards a surveillance society.

The intelligence centre will store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details of travellers.

Big Brother

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: "The government seems to be building databases to track more and more of our lives.

"The justification is always about security or personal protection. But the truth is that we have a government that just can't be trusted over these highly sensitive issues. We must not allow ourselves to become a Big Brother society."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: "This is another example of an intrusive database without any public debate about safeguards on its use.

"We are sleepwalking into a surveillance state and should remember that George Orwell's 1984 was a warning, not a blueprint."

A spokesman for campaign group NO2ID said: "When your travel plans, who you are travelling with, where you are going to and when are being recorded you have to ask yourself just how free is this country?"

The e-Borders scheme covers flights, ferries and rail journeys and the Home Office says similar schemes run in other countries including the US, Canada, Spain and Australia.

Minister of State for borders and immigration Phil Woolas said the government was determined to ensure the UK's border remained one of the toughest in the world.

"Our hi-tech electronic borders system will allow us to count all passengers in and out of the UK and [it] targets those who aren't willing to play by our rules," he said.

"Already e-Borders has screened over 75 million passengers against immigration, customs and police watch-lists, leading to over 2,700 arrests for crimes such as murder, rape and assault."

02-09-2009, 04:56 PM
Report Of "People Planting Bombs" on 9-11 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTK9idoGm44)

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02-13-2009, 06:47 PM

Sri Lanka plans to hold displaced Tamils in ‘concentration camps’ (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/srilanka/4613039/Sri-Lanka-plans-to-hold-displaced-Tamils-in-concentration-camps.html)

Officials have confirmed they will establish several "welfare villages" to house the estimated 200,000 Tamils displaced from their homes by the Sri Lankan army's "final offensive" against the LTTE's stronghold on the north of the Island. Senior officials have however confirmed that those housed in the villages will have no choice on whether to stay in the camps.

The villages, which will be based in Vavuniya and Mannar districts and will include banks and parks, will be compulsory holding centres for all civilians fleeing the fighting. They will be screened for terrorist connections and then held under armed guard, with only those with relatives inside the camp allowed to come and go. Single youngsters will be confined to the camps.

It remains unclear how long displaced Tamils will be forced to remain in the camps. Officials had originally planned to detain civilians there for three years but, following an outcry from humanitarian groups, said they hoped to resettle 80 per cent within a year.

Aid groups, senior opposition leaders and Britain's Department for International Development have all denounced the plan, which was on Friday compared to Hitler's demonisation of the Jews in the 1930s.

Former Foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera, a former close aide to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said it was part of a police to paint all Tamils, even moderate opponents of the Tamil Tigers, as potential terrorists and to silence all Tamil voices.

"It is amazing and terrible. A few months ago the government started registering all Tamils in Colombo on the grounds that they could be a security threat, but this could be exploited for other purposes like the Nazis in the 1930s. They're basically going to label the whole civilian Tamil population as potential terrorists, and as a result we are becoming a recruitment machine for the LTTE. Instead of winning hearts and minds of the Tamil people, we're pushing even the moderates into the arms of the LTTE by taking these horrendous steps," he told The Daily Telegraph.

A spokesman for Britain's Department for International Development said:"We are aware of the Government of Sri Lanka's plans for civilians displaced by the conflict in the Vanni. We do not believe current plans represent a sufficient solution by international humanitarian standards. Prolonging the displacement of this very vulnerable group of people is not in anyone's interests.

"There is no UK Government money going into the camps. The UK is supporting international agencies on the ground like the Red Cross, who are in constant touch with the Government of Sri Lanka to find an acceptable solution for those affected. It is important to note that the Government of Sri Lanka has consistently followed a speedy resettlement policy and the experience in the East has been positive in this regard."

02-19-2009, 03:26 PM
Blueprint for EU army to be agreed (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/4689736/Blueprint-for-EU-army-to-be-agreed.html)

The plan, which has influential support in Germany and France, proposes to set up a "Synchronised Armed Forces Europe", or Safe, as a first step towards a true European military force.

The move comes as France, a supporter of an EU army, prepares to rejoin Nato and to take over one of the Alliance's top military posts. General Charles de Gaulle withdrew French forces in 1966.

Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, the Conservative European defence spokesman, warned that British ministers are "in denial".

He said: "They are sleepwalking towards a European army and seem to have little awareness of what is going on."

The EU proposals, drafted by Karl von Wogau, a German MEP, envisage a "dynamic to further development of co-operation between national armed forces so that they become increasingly synchronised - this process [should] be given the name Safe".

There are also plans to create an EU "Council of Defence Ministers" and "a European statute for soldiers within the framework of Safe governing training standards, operational doctrine and freedom of operational action".

Hans-Gert Poettering, the European Parliament's President and close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has supported Safe as a "link" to the "objective of a European army".

"Safe can broaden the debate on the right steps towards closer synchronisation, bringing in those people who cannot yet conceive of a European army," he said in a recent speech.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's will use a summit marking Nato's 60th birthday celebrations in April to pledge France to the Nato's military command structure.

Mr Van Orden, a former Brigadier-General who served at Nato HQ in the 1990s, is concerned that in the process the Alliance "is going to be skewed to suit the EU".

"A key element of a likely deal is to give France something Britain has never had - one of the top two military posts in Nato," he said.

France is expected to play a key part in shaping Nato's future role by taking the job of Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, or Sact, a post traditionally held by a United States Flag or General officer.

"We are giving a nation, which for nearly 50 years has been committed to marginalising Nato and building European structures to exclude the Americans, the job of re-jigging the transatlantic Alliance," said Mr Van Orden.

On Tuesday, Caroline Flint, Britain's Europe Minister, insisted: "Let me be clear - there are no plans for a European army."

02-24-2009, 05:14 PM
Fears over 'summer of rage' (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/21/20090223/tuk-fears-over-summer-of-rage-6323e80.html)

More than a third of voters believe the Army will have to be brought in to deal with a "summer of rage" on British streets as the recession bites, a poll showed.

The widespread fear of serious unrest was disclosed as a senior police officer warned activists were planning unrest and could find rioters easier to recruit because of the credit crunch.

Superintendent David Hartshorn, who heads the Metropolitan Police's public order branch, said known activists were planning a return to the streets centred on April's G20 summit of world leaders in London.

And intelligence shows they may be able to call on more "footsoldiers" than normal due to the unprecedented conditions - which have led to youth violence in Greece and mass protests elsewhere in Europe.

YouGov polling for Prospect magazine found 37% thought such "serious social unrest in several British cities" was certain or likely - although a slim majority (51%) disagreed.

Almost three quarters (73%) said they feared a sustained return to mass unemployment.

And a clear majority (64%) also favoured forcing the under-25s to do a year of full-time, modestly-paid community service such as working with the sick and elderly or helping with environmental projects.

Labour MP Frank Field told Prospect the main political parties should join forces to develop the idea. He said: "The time has come to look at this idea. A new bipartisan commission should be established to look into how it could be done, perhaps led by figures as respected as David Blunkett or David Davis."

Although the biggest support for a compulsory scheme was among the older generations, a majority of 18-30 year olds (52%) also gave it their backing.

Gordon Brown's spokesman said: "The Prime Minister's view on this is that of course he understands people's concerns and he also understands that people are angry, for example about the behaviour of some of the banks. That's why he is absolutely determined that the Government does everything possible to deal with those concerns and help people and businesses get through what is a global recession."

02-27-2009, 07:48 PM

DNA samples from 1.1 milion children held on register as Labour 'plots database by stealth' (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1156843/DNA-samples-1-1milion-children-held-register-Labour-plots-database-stealth.html)

DNA samples taken from 1.1million children are being held on an ever expanding government database.

The figures, revealed yesterday, show that 1.09million DNA profiles of people aged under 18 were held on the database with 337,000 under 16.

The Metropolitan Police has added the largest number of profiles to the register including 117,000 boys and 33,000 girls.

The new figures come as it was claimed ministers are sneaking sweeping powers to collect and retain more DNA samples.

The Tories said the Government was attempting to give itself a 'blank cheque' to store swabs and fingerprints of criminals and those cleared of wrongdoing.

They claim Labour is trying to expand the amount of biometric data they store without subjecting the controversial plan to full Parliamentary scrutiny.

Jacqui Smith has been forced to reassess the UK's national database after European judges said it was unlawful for police to keep the records of innocent citizens.

Nearly one million people who were arrested for recordable offences but later acquitted or not charged hoped to have their samples deleted as a result of last December's ruling.

The Home Secretary announced that she would publish a response to the court's decision that holding swabs indefinitely was a breach of human rights.

The details of about 4.5million people are held on the database yet one in five - including 40,000 children - has never been charged with an offence.

But in a letter to MPs on the committee studying the Policing and Crime Bill, Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said he wanted to table amendments relating to DNA.

The Tories say these would allow the Government to introduce regulations on the retention and destruction of DNA, photographs, CCTV images, fingerprints and footprints without the need for line-by-line scrutiny in Parliament.

Instead, any measures proposed would be subject only to 'unacceptable' votes in the Commons and the Lords.

Shadow Home Office Minister James Brokenshire said: 'It is typical of this Government that having received a judgment restricting their database state where everyone is treated as a potential suspect, they use it as an opportunity to get more powers with less powers of scrutiny.

'The European Court said that there was a need for greater openness and accountability around the governance of DNA data and the destruction of fingerprints and samples.

'Ministers should act on this and be transparent in what it does rather than shying away from scrutiny which would be the effect of these proposals.'

Ms Smith has indicated that the White Paper on forensic science, to be published this year, will propose limiting the length of time that samples of those convicted of crimes are held.

She is looking at adopting the Scottish system where the records of those acquitted of serious violent and sexual offences are retained for a maximum of five.

She has also suggested entering jails to take samples from serious offenders in prison who were convicted before the national database was created, as well as trawling the country for swabs from those who have been released from jail.

But critics fear she will use the proposed lack of Parliamentary scrutiny to extend the database.

In his letter, Mr Coaker said: 'I cannot emphasise enough the importance of biometric data, DNA in particular, in the identification and detection of offenders.'

The Home Office says the register has proved a key intelligence tool in solving 3,500 cases - including high-profile rapes and murders.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled against the storing of biometric information of innocent people in a case brought by two British men against South Yorkshire Police.

02-28-2009, 12:24 PM
Government plans to keep DNA samples of innocent (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/feb/27/dna-database-justice)

The government is planning to get around a European court ruling that condemned Britain's retention of the DNA profiles of more than 800,000 innocent people by keeping the original samples used to create the database, the Guardian has learned.

A damning ruling last December criticised the "blanket and indiscriminate nature" of the UK's current DNA database - which includes DNA from those never charged with an offence - and said the government had overstepped acceptable limits of storing data for crime detection.

Last month the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, said she would publish a white paper setting out "a more proportionate, fair and commonsense approach", but she has not given any indication whether DNA samples already obtained would be destroyed. However, Home Office sources said the government, which was given three months to respond to the ruling, has "no plans" to destroy samples of DNA.

The revelation raises questions about the extent of the government's response to the court's findings and prompted fresh criticism last night of its "surveillance state" ambitions. The Guardian this week revealed the scale of Whitehall plans to mine data on innocent citizens from public and private databases in order to enhance the fight against terrorism.

Writing in today's Guardian, the justice secretary, Jack Straw, accepts he must climb down on a controversial clause in the coroners' and justice bill, which civil liberties critics have warned is too vague and widely drawn. Straw admits there are "justifiable concerns" that personal data - from medical records to the identity card register - could be used for purposes far removed from their original intention.

The concerns over handling DNA samples come as the Home Office has set out amendments to the police and crime bill which would give the home secretary power to make new regulations about the retention of DNA, without further parliamentary scrutiny.

Experts had anticipated the government would respond to the European court by reforming the database using the Scottish model, where DNA is not retained from innocent people except in cases of arrest over sexual and violent offences.

Since its foundation in 1995, the database has become the world's largest. Of its 5 million entries, more than a million are children and 857,000 innocent people. Home Office and police sources have told the Guardian measures are under way to collect stronger evidence of how the database is used to solve crime. The measures come after the court said it would need "weighty reasons" before it would accept the current scale of the database, and raise concerns that the government may seek to overturn the findings by showing the current scale of the database has played a role in solving crime.

"The government did not have figures for the crimes solved by DNA data of unconvicted people on the database," Stephen Cragg, barrister in the case at the European court, said: "The European court has said that if the UK government wants to be a pioneer of a DNA database it will have to make out a stronger case."

The government has previously cited cases such as the murder of Sally Ann Bowman by Mark Dixie as evidence that the database has helped solve crime. But Cragg stressed: "The majority of examples provided by the government involved matching suspects' DNA with crime scene stains. These cases did not involve samples retained from innocent people."

Attempts to retain DNA samples are likely to meet with vigorous protests from civil liberties groups. "The government has already stretched the limits of what should be permissible in a free society," the director of Privacy International, Simon Davies, said. "Over the past decade, by deception and stealth, legislation and practice has allowed the collection and use of DNA in ways that would be entirely unacceptable in most democracies."

In a separate development, the government has sent a letter to MPs stating its intention to "retain biometric data provided such retention is based on consideration of the individual circumstances".

Vernon Coaker, a Home Office minister, writes: "I cannot emphasise enough the importance of ... DNA in particular, in the identification and detection of offenders."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "As made clear we will comply fully with the judgment, which is why we have brought forward at the earliest opportunity an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill to allow us to introduce regulations on the retention of DNA and fingerprints. The contents of the regulations will be subject to a full public consultation in the Forensics white paper."

03-05-2009, 02:45 PM
Police will have power to secretly search homes (http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,27574,25140470-5006009,00.html)

POLICE will be allowed to secretly search suspects' homes and remotely access their home computers for a month under the most draconian covert operation laws the state has seen.

And no one will know, because of a provision allowing investigators to keep those being spied on in the dark for up to three years.

The laws, which give police greater power to deal with criminals than they have to use against suspected terrorists, were introduced into Parliament without warning by the Government yesterday as part of a crackdown on criminal gangs. However, they drew immediate criticism from civil libertarians, who claimed it was an invasion of personal freedom and from the NSW Opposition, who claimed they wouldn't work.

Premier Nathan Rees said NSW would be the first jurisdiction in Australia to adopt the covert search warrants, modelled on Commonwealth anti-terrorism legislation.

Do the new police powers go too far? Tell us below

"If you are a serious criminal in NSW you should not sleep easy," Mr Rees said. "These laws will enable our police force to inspect your home without you knowing."

The warrants will be issued through the Supreme Court and limited to investigations of suspected serious offences punishable by at least seven years jail. These include the manufacture of drugs, computer crimes, the sale of firearms, homicide and kidnapping.

NSW Police will be able to apply to the Supreme Court to delay notification of their activities for 18 months and up to three years in some exceptional circumstances. Civil libertarians said the new laws were not only the next step in the creation of a police state but could also foster corruption in the force.

"These powers are more powerful than those available to the federal police when dealing with terrorism suspects," NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Cameron Murphy said. "These are exactly the types of laws that led to a huge police corruption problem in NSW in the past. It is going to lead to more police corruption. Why would the NSW Police need more power in dealing with ordinary criminals than the federal police does in dealing with terrorists?"

Opposition police spokesman Mike Gallacher said the announcement would simply tell organised criminals they need to be smarter.

"They'll do so in such a way that houses are not penetrated, that the houses themselves have video surveillance . . . or are not left vacant at all at any stage," he said.

03-13-2009, 06:23 PM

Blair aides DID know Britain was not in imminent danger of attack from Saddam, memo reveals (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1161537/Blair-aides-DID-know-Britain-imminent-danger-attack-Saddam-memo-reveals.html)

Secret emails suggesting that Britain was duped into war in Iraq were released yesterday, renewing calls for a full-scale public inquiry into the conflict.

Documents released under freedom of information laws show Government officials pressed intelligence chiefs to strip out caveats about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

Agents complained that the Government's infamous dossier making the case for war suggested Saddam's biological warfare programme was more advanced than they believed to be the case.

They also privately mocked claims about Iraq's nuclear programme, joking that atomic specialists the document suggested had been assembled in Iraq must be 'Dr Frankenstein'.

The 2002 dossier, which helped convince many MPs of the case for war, contained the now-discredited claim that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons which could be deployed within 45 minutes.

An inquiry headed by Lord Hutton, widely seen as a whitewash, concluded that spy chief Sir John Scarlett, who compiled the document, could have been 'subconsciously influenced' by political pressure while drawing up the report.

Yesterday's documents showed Sir John was directly instructed to make the conclusions as firm as possible.

Dated September 11, 2002, one email was sent to Sir John – now the chief of MI6 – by Desmond Bowen, the head of the Cabinet Office defence- secretariat, and copied to Tony Blair's press secretary Alastair Campbell, chief of staff Jonathan Powell and foreign policy adviser Sir David Manning.

In it, Mr Bowen says: 'In looking at the WMD [weapons of mass destruction] sections, you will clearly want to be as firm and authoritative as you can be.'

He said caveats such as 'it is almost certain' would be seized on by opponents.

Another email, written by an unnamed intelligence official, says wearily to a colleague that efforts to moderate the language of similar draft reports had failed but adds: 'Feel free to try again!'

Others complained of 'iffy drafting' and ridiculed the claims made about Iraq's nuclear programme.

The Cabinet Office, which released the documents following a ruling by the Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, would not say which agency the unnamed officials worked for, but confirmed they were in 'sensitive posts'.

Opposition parties said the emails meant a public inquiry into the Iraq conflict was now urgently required.

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said: 'These minutes shed interesting light on the process by which the caveats in the Joint Intelligence Committee's original assessment of Iraq's WMD programmes were stripped out of the dossier that was presented to Parliament and the British people.'

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey said: 'This confirms the widely held suspicions that leading officials and political advisers close to Tony Blair were deliberately tweaking the presentation of the intelligence to bolster the case for war on Iraq.'

03-14-2009, 04:49 PM

Giving The Fingerprint: Home Law Raises Concern (http://cbs2chicago.com/local/Mike.Puccinelli.fingerprint.2.957819.html)

Sellers Will Be Required To Provide Thumbprint Before Deal Is Approved

Real estate certainly has its risks and fraud is a growing problem, but now there's a new law that's supposed to protect buyers. As CBS 2's Mike Puccinelli reports the new law will also place an unusual burden on the seller.

Fingerprinting is something we often associate with crime. So the fact that Cook County home sellers will soon have to provide a thumb print left some people shocked.

"I wouldn't like that at all. I don't think that's necessary," said Chicagoan Donald Hayes.

"I don't know what I think about that. Not very good, I think, said Jenny Armstrong of Lake Villa.

The new law, which is set to go into effect June 1, 2009, will force anyone selling property in Cook County to provide a thumbprint from their right hand.

"No more so than any law abiding citizen walking down the sidewalk should be fingerprinted; just for selling my house, that's ridiculous," said Gerald Cain of Land Acquisitions, Inc.

Cain has been in the real estate consulting business for decades. He says the law is intrusive and threatens to create fraud when it's designed to prevent it.

Cain has been notarizing documents for more than a quarter century, but he says unless the fingerprint rule is revoked, he plans to get out of the business.

"I would probably just quit; liability for me is too much," Cain said.

Joseph Rogul of the Professional National Title Network isn't worried about the law and rather welcomes it.

"We're in favor of it. Fraud has been a big problem for title companies like us. We don't think it will add too much of a burden on us," said Rogul.

Rogul says consumers will likely have to pay a little more, but he believes the benefits will outweigh the costs, because widespread fraud in the industry means widespread costs, which are typically passed on to the consumer.

The law specifies that consumers can be charged up to $25 to cover fingerprint processing costs.

Unless it's reintroduced, the thumbprint rule is set to expire in 2013. Cain is calling on lawmakers to repeal the provision.

Experts say one basic example of real estate fraud occurs when a seller misrepresents his or her identity, receives money and then flees.

03-15-2009, 10:03 AM

South African men are 'raping women to cure them of being lesbians (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1161693/South-African-men-raping-women-cure-lesbians.html)

Lesbians living in South Africa are being raped by men who believe it will 'cure' them of their sexual orientation, a report has revealed.

Women are reporting a rising tide of brutal homophobic attacks and murders and the widespread use of 'corrective' rape as a form of punishment.

The report, commissioned by international NGO ActionAid, called for South Africa's criminal justice system to recognise the rapes as hate crimes as police are reportedly failing to take action over the spiralling violence.

The extent of the brutality became clear when Eudy Simelane, former star of South Africa's national female football squad, became one of the victims last April.

Simelane, one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian and an equality rights campaigner, was gang-raped and beaten before being stabbed to death 25 times in the face, chest and legs.

Triangle, a gay rights organisation, said it deals with up to 10 new cases of 'corrective rape' every week.

Support groups claim an increasingly macho political environment led to inaction over attacks.

A statement released by South Africa's national prosecuting authority said: 'While hate crimes – especially of a sexual nature – are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritised as a specific project.'

Human rights and equality campaigners are hoping the reaction to Simelane's death and the trial of the three men accused of her rape and murder will help put an end to the attacks.

Laura Turquet, ActionAid’s women’s rights coordinator, said: 'So-called "corrective" rape is yet another grotesque manifestation of violence against women, the most widespread human rights violation in the world today.

'These crimes continue unabated and with impunity, while governments simply turn a blind eye.'

03-15-2009, 10:16 AM
Wireless Tasers extend the long arm of the law (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126985.700-wireless-tasers-extend-the-long-arm-of-the-law.html)

TASER stun guns are going wireless, doubling their range.

The Taser XREP is an electrically charged dart that can be fired from up to 20 metres away with a 12-gauge shotgun. Upon impact, its barbed electrodes penetrate a victim's skin, discharging a 20-second burst of electricity to "distract, disorient and entice the subject to grab the projectile", says Taser. But grabbing the dart routes the shock through the hand, making it difficult to let go and spreading the pain further.

While the XREP delivers a lower voltage for a longer time, a spokeswoman for Taser says its effect is similar to existing versions.

Commercial production of the XREP is due to start later this month, with US police departments and the US military expected to be using the weapons by the end of 2009.

03-15-2009, 06:05 PM
BRUSSELS’ PLAN FOR EURO POLICE (http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/45581/Brussels-plan-for-Euro-police)

SECRET plans to set up a single European police force are being drawn up in Brussels.

The move – which could see foreign police officers patrolling our streets – sparked a furious reaction in Britain last night.

Details of the plan are buried in documents detailing the European Commission’s budget proposals.

They show the Commission is to fund a study on “the feasibility of and obstacles to the creation of a federal police force for the EU”.

The EU has set up the Europol organisation to encourage greater co-operation between national police forces but the latest plan would replace Britain’s localised system with one controlled from a single place, probably Brussels.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said last night: “This is a deeply alarming development. Responsibility for policing must remain in the hands of national governments, not a European force that is not accountable to the British public.

“The Government must stand up for British interests and make clear their opposition to this proposal at the very outset.”

A spokeswoman for the European Commission last night said it did not support the idea of a single police force but was only pressing for greater co-operation between national police forces on tackling cross-border crime.

But plans for the study will fuel fears that Brussels is planning a fresh power grab once the EU Constitution process is completed at the end of this year.

The move is highly embarrassing for Prime Minister Gordon Brown who has pledged there will be no large EU initiatives for a decade. Neil O’Brien, director of the think- tank Open Europe, said: “Most people in Britain would be horrified by the idea of a single European police force. No one wants this.”

Technically, Britain has an opt-out from greater integration on policing issues but a Home Office spokesman suggested the Government was open to closer ties.

He said: “Organised criminals and terrorists do not recognise national boundaries. A European response is often the most effective means of combating international crime.”

03-16-2009, 06:37 PM
Australians refused insurance because of poor genes (http://www.smh.com.au/national/australians-refused-insurance-because-of-poor-genes-20090309-8tc6.html?page=-1)

AUSTRALIANS have been refused insurance protection because of their genetic make-up, researchers have shown in the first study in the world to provide proof of genetic discrimination.

Most cases were found to relate to life insurance. In one instance, a man with a faulty gene linked to a greater risk of breast and prostate cancer was denied income protection and trauma insurance that would have let him claim if he developed other forms of cancer.

The findings have led to renewed calls by experts for policies to ensure the appropriate use of genetic test results by the insurance industry.

The director of the Centre for Genetics Education at Royal North Shore Hospital, Kristine Barlow-Stewart, said the research also showed consumers needed to be better informed about their rights.

"Eighty-five per cent of the people in the study didn't know where to go to seek assistance if they had been discriminated against," she said.

Associate Professor Barlow-Stewart and her colleagues surveyed more than 1000 people who had attended clinical genetic services about their experiences of discrimination.

In a long, complex process that was only possible because of the assistance of organisations and companies that had carried out the discrimination, the researchers were able to verify 11 cases of genetic discrimination, and their results are published in the journal Genetics in Medicine.

"Previous to this paper, only anecdotal reports of genetic discrimination have been available, with some commentators questioning whether or not the phenomenon actually existed," Professor Barlow-Stewart said.

In one case, two women with the same genetic fault linked to breast cancer applied for income protection to the same insurer three years apart.

One was denied any type of cover, while the other was offered insurance with an exclusion of breast cancer.

The different decisions were justified by the Insurance and Financial Services Association on the grounds of updated scientific information. "But I don't believe consumers should be penalised while the insurance companies are learning," said Professor Barlow-Stewart.

An expert assessment panel should be established to advise on which tests are sufficiently well understood to be used for insurance purposes, she said.

This was one of the recommendations of a 2003 report by the Australian Law Reform Commission. "And it still hasn't happened."

Under industry guidelines, insurers cannot compel people to have a genetic test, but those who have been tested must reveal their results.

It is only legal for companies to use this information if they can justify their decisions.

In the case of the man with the breast cancer gene, genetic experts judged his exclusion from claims relating to all forms of cancer was too broad.


Life insurance 42%

Family context 22%

Health services 20%

Social life 11%

Employment 5%

03-17-2009, 11:37 AM
B.C. court case has potential to make Google, Yahoo illegal in Canada (http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Technology/court+case+potential+make+Google+Yahoo+illegal+Can ada/1396039/story.html)

OTTAWA — A court case in British Columbia has the potential to drastically change the Canadian Internet landscape by making search engines such as Google and Yahoo illegal.

A case brought against the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) by a small search engine for BitTorrent files, called ISOHunt Web Technologies Inc., is raising questions about whether search engines are liable for the sharing of copyright-protected content online.

The question before the British Columbia Supreme Court is, if a site like ISOHunt allows people to find a pirated copy of Watchmen or The Dark Knight, is it breaching Canadian copyright law?

“It’s a huge can of worms,” said David Fewer, acting director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa.

“I am surprised that this litigation has gone under the radar as much as it has. I do think this is the most important copyright litigation going on right now.”

ISOHunt helps people search through more than

44 million BitTorrent files available on the Internet to find the movies, TV shows, software and music they may be looking for. The company does not store the files, nor does it work directly with people offering the files for download.

The search engine boasts more than 20 million regular users.

After receiving numerous legal threats from CRIA, the B.C.-based company decided to take matters into its own hands. In September, the company filed a petition with the B.C. court asking a judge to rule on whether ISOHunt was in breach of Canadian copyright law. The case was heard last week.

In his argument, ISOHunt’s lawyer Arthur Grant — of the firm of Grant Kovacs Norell Barristers & Solicitors — used Google to show the judge how the world’s most popular search engine can be used to find many of the same questionable files available on ISOHunt.

“Anybody can. Do it yourself,” he said. “ISOHunt is a search engine and it operates no differently than Google. The difference is Google searches every file type under the sun.”

When contacted Monday, officials for Google Inc. declined to comment on the ISOHunt case saying the company has not been officially named in the lawsuit.

CRIA argued that the petition should be converted into a full action court case. The judge agreed on Wednesday, saying a full court case will be necessary to decide the matter. Both sides are now preparing for a lengthy court battle.

Despite repeated attempts on Monday, no one from CRIA returned phone calls.

The litigation will mark the second court battle that ISOHunt finds itself fighting. The company is currently locked in a bitter dispute with the Motion Picture Association of America over similar copyright issues.

The company has repeatedly argued that much like case of Betamax versus Universal Studios, ISOHunt cannot be deemed illegal simply because it has the potential to be used for questionable purposes. In 1984, courts in the U.S. ruled that people can use their VCRs to record TV shows and that the manufacturers of the VCRs cannot be held liable for copyright infringement.

BitTorrent, a system for sharing files on the Internet, is routinely used for the distribution of non-copyright infringing files. In March last year, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. used a BitTorrent service called Mininova to distribute the show Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister over the Internet.

However, the technology has caught the attention of various movie and music groups globally because it has been used to share films while they are still in theatres and CDs prior to their release date. The Dark Knight became the most pirated movie in history after people found a copy of it through a BitTorrent search engine while it was still in theatres. In December, a man from Los Angeles pled guilty to uploading Guns N’ Roses latest album Chinese Democracy to the Internet, which numerous people then found through search engines such as ISOHunt, months before it hit store shelves.

03-17-2009, 05:11 PM

The far right is on the march again: the rise of fascism in Austria (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1160972/The-far-right-march-rise-fascism-Austria.html)

In Austria's recent general election, nearly 30 per cent of voters backed extremist right-wing parties. Live visits the birthplace of Hitler to investigate how Fascism is once again threatening to erupt across Europe.

Beneath a leaden sky the solemn, black-clad crowd moves slowly towards a modest grey headstone. At one end
of the grave, a flame casts light on the black lettering that is engraved on the marble. At the other end, an elderly soldier bends down to place flowers before standing to salute.

From all over Austria, people are here to pay their respects to their fallen hero. But the solemnity of the occasion is cut with tension. Beyond the crowd of about 300, armed police are in attendance. They keep a respectful distance but the rasping bark of Alsatians hidden in vans provides an eerie soundtrack as the crowd congregates in mist and light rain.

We’ve been warned that despite a heavy police presence journalists have often been attacked at these meetings. If trouble does come then the mob look ready to fight. There are bull-necked stewards and young men who swagger aggressively.

This is a neo-Nazi gathering and in the crowd are some of Austria’s most hard-faced fascists. Among them is Gottfried Kussel, a notorious thug who was the showman of Austria’s far-right movement in the Eighties and Nineties until he was imprisoned for eight years for promoting Nazi ideology.

Today he cuts a Don Corleone figure as he stands defiantly at the graveside. His neo-Nazi acolytes make sure no one comes near him and our photographer is unceremoniously barged out of his way.

Ominous-looking men with scars across their faces whisper to each other and shake hands. These are members of Austria’s Burschenschaften, an arcane, secretive organisation best known for its fascination with fencing, an initiation ceremony that includes a duel in which the opponents cut each other’s faces, and for its strong links to the far right.

Incredibly, standing shoulder to shoulder with these hard-line Nazi sympathisers are well known Austrian politicians. At the graveside, a speech is made by Lutz Weinzinger, a leading member of Austria’s Freedom Party (FPO), who pays tribute to the fallen.

This is a gathering in memory of an Austrian-born Nazi fighter pilot, who during WWII shot down 258 planes, 255 of them Russian. Such was Major Walter Nowotny’s standing at the time of his death in 1944 that the Nazi Party awarded him a grave of honour in Vienna’s largest cemetery, close to the musical legends Mozart, Brahms and Strauss.

But in 2005 that honour was revoked and his body moved to lie in an area of public graves. The decision infuriated the far right and made their annual pilgrimage an even greater event.

Today, the anniversary of Nowotny’s death, also coincides with Kristallnacht, the ‘night of broken glass’ in 1938 when 92 people were murdered and thousands attacked across Germany as stormtroopers set upon Jews in an outpouring of Nazi violence.

Some 70 years on from that infamous pogrom, the world faces a similar financial crisis to the one that precipitated the rise of Hitler and, in chilling echoes of Thirties Europe, support for far-right groups is exploding. Hitler’s birthplace has become the focus for neo-Nazis across the world.

And so I have come to Austria to investigate how Fascism and extremism are moving, unchecked, into the forefront of its society.

Last September, Austria’s far right gained massive political influence in an election that saw the FPO along with another far right party – Alliance For The Future (BZO) – gain 29 per cent of the vote, the same share as Austria’s main party, the Social Democrats. The election stirred up terrifying memories of the rise of the Nazi Party in the Thirties.

And just as the Nazis gained power on the back of extreme nationalism and virulent anti-Semitism, the recent unprecedented gains in Austria were made on a platform of fear about immigration and the perceived threat of Islam. FPO leader Heinz Christian Strache, for example, described women in Islamic dress as ‘female ninjas’.

Emboldened by the new power in parliament, neo-Nazi thugs have desecrated Muslim graves. Recently, in Hitler’s home town of Braunau, a swastika flag was publicly unveiled.

The FPO wants to legalise Nazi symbols, while its firebrand leader has been accused of having links to far right extremists.

After the FPO’s election victory, Nick Griffin, leader of the British Nationalist Party (BNP), sent a personal message to Strache.

‘We in Britain are impressed to see that you have been able to combine principled nationalism with electoral success. We are sure that this gives you a good springboard for the European elections and we hope very much that we will be able to join you in a successful nationalist block in Brussels next year.’

The message followed on from a secret meeting last May in which a high-ranking FPO politician paid a visit to London for a meeting with Griffin.

The relationship between the FPO and the BNP becomes more worrying as I learn of the strong links between Austria’s political party and hard-line Nazis.

Herbert Schweiger makes no attempt to hide his Nazi views. At his home in the Austrian mountains, the former SS officer gazes out of a window to a view of a misty alpine valley. Described to me as the ‘Puppet Master’ of the far right, Schweiger, 85, is a legendary figure for neo-Nazis across the world.

‘Our time is coming again and soon we will have another leader like Hitler,’ he says.

Still remarkably sharp-minded, Schweiger was a lieutenant in the infamous Waffen SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, an elite unit originally formed before WWII to act as the Führer’s personal bodyguards.

This is his first interview for four years and the first he has ever given to a journalist from outside Austria. It happens a few weeks before he is due to appear in court charged with promoting neo-Nazi ideology.

It will be the fifth time he has stood trial for breaking a law, the Verbotsgesetz, enacted in 1947 to halt the spread of fascist ideology. He has been found guilty twice and acquitted twice. It quickly becomes apparent that little has changed in Schweiger’s mindset since his Third Reich days.

‘The Jew on Wall Street is responsible for the world’s current economic crisis. It is the same now as in 1929 when 90 per cent of money was in the hands of the Jew. Hitler had the right solutions then,’ he says, invoking the language of Goebbels.

The room is filled with mementos from his past and indicators of his sickening beliefs. His bookshelf is a library of loathing. I spot a book by controversial British Holocaust denier David Irving and one on the ‘myth of Auschwitz’. On a shelf hangs a pennant from the SS Death’s Head unit that ran Hitler’s concentration camps. Such memorabilia is banned in Austria but Schweiger defiantly displays his Nazi possessions.

If Schweiger was an old Nazi living out his final days in this remote spot, it might be possible to shrug him off as a now harmless man living in his past. But Schweiger has no intention of keeping quiet.

‘My job is to educate the fundamentals of Nazism. I travel regularly in Austria and Germany speaking to young members of our different groups,’ he says.

Schweiger’s lectures are full of hate and prejudice. He refers to Jews as ‘intellectual nomads’ and says poor Africans should be allowed to starve.

‘The black man only thinks in the present and when his belly is full he does not think of the future,’ he says. ‘They reproduce en masse even when they have no food, so supporting Africans is suicide for the white race.

‘It is not nation against nation now but race against race. It is a question of survival that Europe unites against the rise of Asia. There is an unstoppable war between the white and yellow races. In England and Scotland there is very strong racial potential.

Our time is coming again and soon we will have another leader like Hitler

Of course I am a racist, but I am a scientific racist,’ he adds, as if this is a justification.

Schweiger’s raison d’être is politics. He was a founding member of three political parties in Austria – the VDU, the banned NDP and the FPO. He has given his support to the current leader of the FPO.

‘Strache is doing the right thing by fighting the foreigner,’ says Schweiger.

He is now in close contact with the Kameradschaften, underground cells of hardcore neo-Nazis across Austria and Germany who, over the past three years, have started to infiltrate political parties such as the FPO.

His belief that the bullet and the ballot box go hand in hand goes back to 1961, when he helped to train a terrorist movement fighting for the reunification of Austria and South Tyrol.

‘I was an explosives expert in the SS so I trained Burschenschaften how to make bombs. We used the hotel my wife and I owned as a training camp,’ he says. The hotel he refers to is 50 yards from his home.

Thirty people in Italy were murdered during the campaign. One of the men convicted for the atrocities, Norbert Burger, later formed the now-banned neo-Nazi NDP party with Schweiger.

Schweiger’s involvement earned him his first spell in custody in 1962 but he was acquitted.

At Vienna’s Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DOW), I speak to Heribert Schiedel, who monitors neo-Nazi activity. He tells me that the glue between people like Schweiger and the politicians are the Burschenschaften fraternities. Schiedel draws two circles and explains.

‘In the circle on the left you have legal parties such as the FPO. In the circle on the right you have illegal groups. Two distinct groupings who pretend they are separate.’

He draws another circle linking the two together. ‘This circle links the legal and illegal. This signifies the Burschenschaften. They have long been associated with Fascism and have a history of terrorism. Adolf Eichmann, Rudolf Hess and Heinrich Himmler were Burschenschaften – as are prominent members of the FPO in parliament.’

There are Burschenschaften groups all over Austria and 18 in the capital alone. Their activities range from quaint to disturbing.

At the University of Vienna, members of the Burschenschaften come to pay homage to a statue called the Siegfriedskopf (the Head of Siegfried, a warrior from German mythology). Their ritual takes place every Wednesday.
The university authorities wanted to remove the statue, but the government insisted it should stay as it is a protected monument. Instead, the piece was relocated to the courtyard.

Today, the Burschenschaften have been prevented from entering the courtyard and at the main entrance police stand guard as they hand out leaflets. Dressed in traditional uniforms, the Burschenschaften resemble colourful bandsmen and are a far cry from the shaven-headed thugs normally associated with Fascism.

But the groups have a 200-year-old history steeped in patriotism and loyalty to a German state. In 2005, Olympia, one of the most extreme Burschenschaften fraternities, invited David Irving to Austria.

As other students gather, there is tension in the air. One girl whispers that this group recently attacked students protesting outside the Austrian Parliament against the FPO.

A young student with round glasses and a scar on his left cheek, wearing the purple colours of Olympia, is handing out leaflets. Roland denies being a neo-Nazi but he quickly starts relaying his fiercely nationalist views.

‘The anti-fascists are the new fascists,’ he says. ‘We are not allowed to tell the truth about how foreigners are a threat.’

The truth, according to Roland, is that Muslims, immigrants and America are destroying his way of life.

‘We are German-Austrians. We want a community here based on German nationalism,’ he adds. ‘We must fight to save our heritage and culture.’

The Burschenschaften hold regular, secretive meetings in cellar bars around Vienna. Journalists are not usually admitted, but I manage to persuade a group of Burschenschaften students to let me see their traditions. Once inside, I find myself in a bar filled with 200 men sitting at long tables drinking steins of Austrian beer.

The Burschenschaften are resplendent in the colours of their fraternities. Old and young, they sport sashes in the black, red and gold of the German flag, and as the beer flows in this neo-Gothic building, chatter fills the room and cigarette smoke rises in plumes up to chandeliers hung from a vaulted ceiling.

‘Prost!’ the man sitting to my right toasts loudly. His name is Christian. He is no neo-Nazi thug, but instead a psychology student. His white peaked cap signifies that he is a member of a Burschenschaften group called Gothia.
Most of the men at this table are Gothia, including the man sitting opposite who ordered the beer. He glares at me again. He has long scars on both sides of his face that run from his cheekbones down to the edges of his mouth, and when he sucks on his cigarette he reminds me of the Joker from Batman. Christian has a dozen wounds from fencing, including five on his left cheek.

‘It is a badge of honour to duel,’ he says proudly, before explaining that this is an annual event and that one of tonight’s speeches will be on the ‘threat of Islam to Europe’.

Suddenly, everyone at our table stands amazed as FPO leader Heinz Christian Strache enters.

He is wearing a royal blue hat – signifying his membership of the Vandalia Burschenschaften – and after shaking hands with each of us he sits at the far end of the table. Shortly afterwards I’m asked to leave.

Although the Burschenschaften claims to be politically neutral, FPO flyers had been placed in front of each guest and it was clear this event was a political rally in support of the FPO – an event that would culminate with these Austrians, including a leading politician, singing the German national anthem.

After my encounter with the leader of the FPO among the Burschenschaften, I contact Strache’s press office to question his membership of an organisation linked to far right extremism, and ask why the FPO wishes to revoke the Verbotsgesetz (the law banning Nazi ideology).

In a response by email, Mr Strache replied that the FPO wants to revoke the Verbotsgesetz because it believes in freedom of speech. He denied having any links to neo-Nazi groups and says he is proud to be a member of the Burschenschaften.

‘The Burschenschaften was founded during the wars against Napoleon Bonaparte in the beginning of the 19th century. These are the historical origins I am proud of,’ he wrote.

Back at Nowotny’s graveside I think of the Puppet Master in his mountain home. How can a former Nazi still hold so much political sway? The Burschenschaften are here, too.

There are no ‘sieg heils’ and no swastikas for the cameras, but it’s clear that Fascism is back. These are not thugs merely intent on racial violence, who are easily locked up. These are intellectuals and politicians whose move to the forefront of society is far more insidious.

Through the political influence of the FPO it is entirely possible that the Verbotsgesetz could be revoked – and if that happens swastikas could once again be seen on Austria’s streets.

The ideas and racial hatred that I have heard over my two weeks in Austria are just as threatening and just as sickening as any I have ever heard. And they are a lot more sinister because they are spoken with the veneer of respectability.

The open defiance of these men honouring their Nazi ‘war hero’, and the support they are gaining in these troubled economic times, should be setting off alarm bells in Europe and the rest of the world.

03-18-2009, 01:47 PM
Prisoners eligible for stimulus package payments (http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,25202710-5001021,00.html)

MURDERERS, rapists and drug dealers will reap $900 payments from taxpayers under Kevin Rudd's economic rescue package.

The jail grapevine is rife with news of the looming windfall for felons who worked on the outside in the 2007-08 tax year.

Thousand of inmates could get their hands on the latest round of stimulus cash, to flow from early next month.

While many may have robbed or bashed people for less, all they have to do to collect the money is file a tax return.

Prisoners are unable to have more than $120 in their jail accounts but associates or family could access the cash.

The Federal Government confirmed that recently arrived inmates would get the workers' tax bonus if they satisfied the eligibility criteria.

Victims' advocate Noel McNamara said giving money to criminals was a disgrace. "These people are felons, murders and deviants," he said.

"The Government should withdraw any obligations it thinks it has to these people and put the money where it's needed."

The revelation comes as the Government borrows $2 billion a week to finance its $42 billion economic rescue plan.

About $75 million of stimulus cash paid last December went abroad to 60,000 overseas-based pensioners, while tens of thousands of foreigners and expatriate Aussies will get the tax bonus payments.

Dead people also could be eligible for the bonuses, while there is a report that dogs could profit after the death of their master.

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said the jackpot for criminals would do nothing for the legitimate economy.

"It's hard to spend money from jail," he said. "The entire package was poorly thought through. The wrong people are getting the money at the wrong time.

"Taxpayers will be outraged at the money being wasted by this Government."

Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen's office said jail inmates would have to satisfy the normal eligibility requirements.

"Any Australian residents will be eligible for the tax bonus if they paid tax in the 2007-08 financial year, after taking into account available offsets and credits, and lodge their return by June 30, 2009.

"Direct support for consumption provided by payments such as the tax bonus is integral to the Government's response to the global financial crisis," his spokesman said.

It was reported on Sunday that pets left money in the estates of people who worked in 2007-08 could get the bonus.

03-19-2009, 10:29 AM

France braced for huge street protests over economic crisis (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/19/france-second-wave-strikes)

France is bracing for a wave of street protests in the second general strike over Nicolas Sarkozy's handling of the economic crisis.

Traditional public sector strikers such as teachers, transport workers and hospital staff will join an unprecedented new protest movement by private sector workers from banks and supermarkets to multinationals. Together they are protesting against both Sarkozy's cuts to France's public sector and welfare state, and accusing him of failing to protect workers from the economic crisis. Most of those involved fear the dreaded French scourge: unemployment, which is now rising at the fastest rate in more than a decade.

Unions predict the demonstrations will be bigger than the estimated 2.5 million people who took to the streets in a strike over pay and job losses in January.

Today's protest has the widest public support of any French strike in a decade, with three quarters of the population in favour.

It comes amid government concern that French protests are becoming more radical. Last week angry factory workers took Sony France's chief executive hostage over redundancies.

Yesterday morning, students clashed with riot police in Paris after a demonstration over university reform. Universities across France have been barricaded and picketed for almost two months in a standoff over higher education reform. The satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné yesterday reported that Sarkozy wanted student protests calmed by May, fearing echoes of the student-led protests of May 1968.

"The situation is getting worse day by day ... Who doesn't know someone touched by the crisis? The government hasn't come up with a strong response," said Jean-Claude Mailly, head of the Force Ouvriére union.

France, which has a more rigid and cautious financial system and a weak private sector, has not yet been as badly hit as Britain, Ireland or Spain by the economic crisis. But unions want guarantees of job protection and a higher minimum wage.

Sarkozy insists he will stick to his handling of the economic crisis - focusing on public and private investment instead of boosting consumers' pockets with major tax cuts or higher welfare spending. Last month, he moved to defuse tension by introducing certain tax cuts and welfare payments for poor families. Unions say it was not enough, but the president insists there will be no more concessions.

Many across the left and right accuse Sarkozy of comforting the rich while workers suffer. When the French oil giant Total announced job cuts just after reporting record profits, more than 80% of the public voiced their disgust in a recent poll.

This week Sarkozy was urged to reverse one of his first reforms that effectively cut taxes for the mega-rich in an attempt to woo back France's exodus of wealthy citizens.

Those on the left and some in Sarkozy's own party now want the very rich to pay more to boost state coffers in the crisis. Sarkozy has refused. "I was not elected to increase taxes," he said.

03-19-2009, 05:10 PM

TSA: More gate searches in store for fliers (http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2009-03-17-airport_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip)

WASHINGTON — A new, more aggressive effort by airport screeners aims to halt randomly selected passengers for a security check just before they step onto their departing plane, according to a government memo obtained by USA TODAY.
Scores of passengers have already been pulled aside for searches as they waited in line at airport gates for boarding calls. Each of the passengers had already passed through security checkpoints when a uniformed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer asked them to step out of line to check their IDs or search their carry-on bags.

Passengers can be selected at random or for suspicious behavior, according to a TSA memo dated last Thursday. The program primarily targets riskier flights, according to the memo, which doesn't specify how flights are singled out.

The TSA says it has done occasional checks of passengers at airport gates and that the new stepped-up effort has nothing to do with any particular threat. Rather, the effort is focused on the notion that mixing up tactics makes it harder for terrorists to monitor how security works, said TSA spokesman Greg Soule.

"It serves as a random, unpredictable layer," Soule said.

The new effort raises concerns about passengers feeling hassled and flights being delayed. "I hope the TSA can work with airports and airlines to ensure that flights that may already be late aren't targeted," said Christopher Bidwell, security chief for the Airports Council International trade group.

Ed Wyatt said he was waiting to board a March 6 flight from Denver International Airport to Washington-Dulles when a TSA screener "grabbed somebody out of the line, opened up his briefcase and hand-wanded him."

"To me, it's just stupid," said Wyatt of Olney, Md. "Why do you have to screen someone twice?"

Soule said the TSA does consider passenger concerns, "but security is our No. 1 priority."

The motive for the program, theorizes aviation security consultant Rich Roth, is that the TSA fears that airport workers, who are not routinely screened, could sneak weapons into the secure area of an airport and give them to passengers.

Gate screening was done extensively in the months after 9/11 but was phased out in 2003 as the TSA sought to reduce passenger hassles and concentrate screening at checkpoints.

Adm. James Loy, who ran the TSA in 2002 and 2003, said screening at the gates was a visible sign of security that helped "regain confidence" of passengers who were wary of flying after 9/11.

The TSA began limited gate screening in 2007. The stepped-up effort started this year.

David Conklin of Washington, D.C., was mystified Thursday when a team of six TSA screeners showed up to check the IDs of passengers boarding a 50-seat jet flying from Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina to Washington National. "I didn't feel reassured," he said. "I felt, what is this next hassle I'm going to have to go through?"

03-20-2009, 11:09 AM
U.N. panel says world should ditch dollar (http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE52H2CY20090318?sp=true)

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - A U.N. panel will next week recommend that the world ditch the dollar as its reserve currency in favor of a shared basket of currencies, a member of the panel said on Wednesday, adding to pressure on the dollar.

Currency specialist Avinash Persaud, a member of the panel of experts, told a Reuters Funds Summit in Luxembourg that the proposal was to create something like the old Ecu, or European currency unit, that was a hard-traded, weighted basket.

Persaud, chairman of consultants Intelligence Capital and a former currency chief at JPMorgan, said the recommendation would be one of a number delivered to the United Nations on March 25 by the U.N. Commission of Experts on International Financial Reform.

"It is a good moment to move to a shared reserve currency," he said.

Central banks hold their reserves in a variety of currencies and gold, but the dollar has dominated as the most convincing store of value -- though its rate has wavered in recent years as the United States ran up huge twin budget and external deficits.

Some analysts said news of the U.N. panel's recommendation extended dollar losses because it fed into concerns about the future of the greenback as the main global reserve currency, raising the chances of central bank sales of dollar holdings.

"Speculation that major central banks would begin rebalancing their FX reserves has risen since the intensification of the dollar's slide between 2002 and mid-2008," CMC Markets said in a note.

Russia is also planning to propose the creation of a new reserve currency, to be issued by international financial institutions, at the April G20 meeting, according to the text of its proposals published on Monday.

It has significantly reduced the dollar's share in its own reserves in recent years.


Persaud said that the United States was concerned that holding the reserve currency made it impossible to run policy, while the rest of world was also unhappy with the generally declining dollar.

"There is a moment that can be grasped for change," he said.

"Today the Americans complain that when the world wants to save, it means a deficit. A shared (reserve) would reduce the possibility of global imbalances."

Persaud said the panel had been looking at using something like an expanded Special Drawing Right, originally created by the International Monetary Fund in 1969 but now used mainly as an accounting unit within similar organizations.

The SDR and the old Ecu are essentially combinations of currencies, weighted to a constituent's economic clout, which can be valued against other currencies and indeed against those inside the basket.

Persaud said there were two main reasons why policymakers might consider such a move, one being the current desire for a change from the dollar.

The other reason, he said, was the success of the euro, which incorporated a number of currencies but roughly speaking held on to the stability of the old German deutschemark compared with, say, the Greek drachma.

Persaud has long argued that the dollar would give way to the Chinese yuan as a global reserve currency within decades.

A shared reserve currency might negate this move, he said, but he believed that China would still like to take on the role.

03-21-2009, 05:27 PM
Cops wanted compulsory DNA cards (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/03/20/gateway_id_cards/)

Civil servants considered including DNA or iris biometrics as well as digital photographs in the ID card scheme and the police wanted carrying the cards to be compulsory, just released documents reveal.

The Office of Government Commerce has finally bowed to legal pressure from trade mag Computer Weekly and released the two Gateway reviews into the national ID scheme. It has taken four years and numerous court hearings to get the two reviews, from 2003 and 2004, released.

The review noted: "The Police felt that the absence of any obligation to carry or produce identity cards would substantially remove the administrative savings and some of the other advantages that Identity Cards would offer."

The 2003 review said: "Biometrics. Opinion seems divided on how effective or dependable biometrics will be. There is little past experience, in the UK or elsewhere, to go on." There is no evidence of any technical consultation or other attempt to answer these questions.

The second review in 2004 also supported a second biometric on the card and was still looking for answers.

Overall the level of dialogue at the OGC seems perfectly suited to its logo, which regular readers may remember. The circlejerk of senior civil servants seem absurdly divorced from reality - they show awareness of neither the technical problems of what they are discussing nor any understanding of, or interest in, public reaction to the scheme.

Support from the rest of the civil service also appears muted. The 2003 review said: "We noted with some concern that the main potential beneficiaries of an Identity Cards scheme, such as police, DVLA, Passport Agency, IND, DWP, Inland Revenue and the financial sector, though generally supportive, were not quite as enthusiastic about the programme as might have been hoped."

Apparently major problems with the project are breezily dismissed.

So the review mentions one of the programme risks: "Inadequate support and commitment (we noted with some concern that the main potential beneficiaries of an Identity Cards scheme, such as police, DVLA, Passport Agency, IND, DWP, Inland Revenue and the financial sector, though generally supportive, were not quite as enthusiastic about the programme as might have been hoped." [sic]

The second review again confidently claims: "The Identity Cards programme’s potential for success is not in doubt. As the SRO and Programme Director recognise, however, there is much work to be done before a robust business case can be established for a solution that meets the business need".

The 2003 review is here and 2004 is here, both as pdfs, or have a look at SpyBlog.

Gateway reviews look at many major government IT projects at various points in order to ensure progress is being made. They give traffic light judgement on projects - in 2003 the ID scheme was given a red light, and by 2004 it was on amber.

03-22-2009, 12:18 AM
Does Policy Endanger Female Soldiers? (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/18/eveningnews/main4874927.shtml)

Female Troops Face Threat Of Sexual Abuse By Comrades As "Moral Waivers" Increase

(CBS) - It's a potent environment, with female soldiers working - and living - under hostile conditions with their male counterparts.

One soldier, who asked us to call him Robert, spent three tours in Iraq as a signal unit leader out of Ft. Lewis in Washington state.

“For the female soldiers, it was far harder to adjust,” Robert told CBS News anchor Katie Couric. “Because not only did they have to deal with combat - mortar rounds, rockets, bullets - they also had to put up with male soldiers who were away from their families for a year.”

A decorated soldier in his unit, Robert says he went to his Command on many occasions after female soldiers complained of sexual assaults. Nothing was done.

“The last thing a commander wants, other than a death in his unit, is sexual harassment, or an assault case, because that makes his unit’s command look bad, Robert said.

For Wendy - an idealistic 17-year-old - the military seemed like the answer to her prayers.

“I was mostly going in for school,” Wendy said. “But I was also going in to see the world and travel.”

Deployed as a combat medic, Wendy was thrust into a chaotic and increasingly violent situation. Not long after, she experienced another kind of trauma, when she was assaulted by a fellow soldier in her barracks while she was sleeping.

“He started pushing himself on me,” she said. “And I wasn’t having it. So I started punching him and I actually kicked him in the groin.”

Afraid to go to her Command, she took extra precautions - locking her room with a deadbolt, traveling in pairs. But just weeks later, she found herself fending off the sexual advances of a doctor she worked with in the operating room. Again, she didn't report it.

“He was a doctor, he was a surgeon. And who were they going to believe?” she says today.

Wendy’s experience is not unusual. Since 2002, the Miles Foundation, a private non-profit that tracks sexual assault within the armed forces, has received nearly 1,200 confidential reports of sexual assaults in the Central Command Area of Responsibility, which includes Iraq and Afghanistan. Those reports have increased as much as 30 percent a year.

Part of the problem for the increase, critics say, is the quality of today's recruit.

The military is increasingly issuing something called "moral waivers," so they can enlist military personnel with felony convictions for crimes like rape and sexual assault.

“We don’t enlist convicted rapists in the armed forces of the United States,” said Michael Dominguez, the principal under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness. “If there’s a consensus 'that kid needs a second chance, I think he’s got it in him to be a solider,’ then they’ll let him into the armed forces.”

In fact, CBS News has learned that both the Army and Marine Corps did issue a number of "moral waivers" to enlistees with felony convictions for rape and sexual assault - something not acknowledged in a follow-up letter from Dominguez.

But it's not just who enters the military, it's how sex offenders are ultimately punished by the Command.

“We have documents showing that a private convicted of rape, who had a bad conduct discharge suspended so he could deploy to Iraq,” Couric told Dominguez. “How could the U.S. military allow a convicted criminal to go back into a situation where he could easily rape again?”

“I’m not familiar with this particular case,” Dominguez replied.

The Army says it is committed to doing better, with plans of adding 15 "Special Victim" prosecutors and 30 criminal investigators by this summer.

“We’ve earned our way through the military, we put in our work,” Wendy said. “And I just think we deserve the same amount of respect, just as everybody else in the military.”

It's a fight Wendy hopes female soldiers can win.

03-23-2009, 07:36 PM
Man Arrested for Feeding the Homeless! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsvcwQEFKAI#)

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03-24-2009, 02:50 PM

Anglers arrested and DNA tested by anti-terror police for using laser pens to scare ducks (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1164447/Anglers-arrested-DNA-tested-anti-terror-police-using-laser-pens-scare-ducks.html)

When Martin Kailus and his friends started to fish by a lake, they made for a trio of unlikely terrorists.

The police, however, begged to differ.

Ten officers raced to their fishing perch and arrested the middle-aged anglers under anti-terror laws.

They claimed the three men were using their laser pens to endanger aeroplanes flying overhead.

In reality, they were merely using the pocket-sized torches - a common device among anglers - to ward off ducks in danger of becoming caught up in their fishing tackle.

Not content with this explanation, the trio were taken to police station where they were interrogated by officers from the 'terror squad'.

The anglers also had their fingerprints taken and were forced to give DNA swabs.

One of the men was released without being charged after two hours. The other two were forced to spend ten hours in cells before they were released - also without being charged.

Although no further action will be taken, their fingerprints and DNA samples remain on both national databases.

Mr Kailus, 57, of Woodley, near Reading in Berkshire, has branded the police's behaviour as 'pathetic'.

'I was gobsmacked when they said they were arresting us and couldn't believe it,' the builder said. 'I though they were having a laugh. The whole thing was a ridiculous waste of manpower and time.'

The saga began when Mr Kailus, his close friend Mick Radomski, 53, and a third unnamed man started fishing for carp on the side of a lake near their homes on the evening of March 7.

The three men were then approached by a local police officer and two Police Community Support Officers who asked why the fishermen were using the £20 laser pens.

Once they had shown the officers their fishing licences and explained how they used the devices to ward off ducks, they expected to be allowed to continue.

However, about an hour later they found themselves surrounded by seven more police officers who said they were being arrested under terrorism laws for being a potential threat to aviation.

Mr Radomski, a father-of-three who also lives in Woodley, felt 'humiliated' when he had to explain what happened to his wife.

'We are all men in our 40s and 50s and we were using the lasers to scare ducks,' the driver said. 'I can’t believe the police really could have thought we were terrorists.

'I am not a terrorist and I object to having all my DNA details and fingerprints on a police database. They wouldn't even give us our pens back - it is farcical.

'I don't know why we had to spend the night in the cells. We could have just come back to the police station in the morning.'

The green laser pens have a range of about one mile and are commonly used by anglers to keep ducks away from fishing hooks.

Mr Kailus added: 'I am a wildlife lover and a fanatical carp angler and think pens are a good idea.

'There are so many ducks being caught in fishing lines and this deters them without doing them any harm - we are doing them a favour more than anything.

'Quite a few people have them around here and use them for fishing - we are adults and only loons would shine them at planes. I don't know why they picked on us.'

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said several aircraft pilots have been dazzled by lasers shining up from the ground during the past 12 months.

He said the fishermen were arrested under the Air Navigation Order 2005 as a 'matter of public safety'.

Planes from Heathrow often fly over the Woodley area. But they fly at 8,000ft - well out of the range of the fishermen's laser pens.

03-25-2009, 07:33 PM
The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94lW6Y4tBXs)

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03-25-2009, 09:09 PM
i've seen this thread for a while now and have never figure out what your trying to accomplish??

Who is the beast??

03-25-2009, 09:14 PM
i've seen this thread for a while now and have never figure out what your trying to accomplish??

Who is the beast??

? ? ?


03-25-2009, 09:25 PM
i've seen this thread for a while now and have never figure out what your trying to accomplish??


Who is the beast??

Not so much "who" but rather "what" - an idea.

03-25-2009, 09:35 PM
Now 'Big Brother' targets Facebook (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/now-big-brother-targets-facebook-1653407.html)

Millions of Britons who use social networking sites such as Facebook could soon have their every move monitored by the Government and saved on a "Big Brother" database.

Ministers faced a civil liberties outcry last night over the plans, with accusations of excessive snooping on the private lives of law-abiding citizens.

The idea to police MySpace, Bebo and Facebook comes on top of plans to store information about every phone call, email and internet visit made by everyone in the United Kingdom. Almost half the British population – some 25 million people – are thought to use social networking sites. There are already proposals under a European Union directive – dating back to after the 7 July 2005 bombs – for emails and internet usage to be monitored and added to a planned database to track terror plots.

But technology has moved on in the past three years, and the use of social networking sites has boomed – so security services fear that that has left a loophole for terrorists and criminal gangs to exploit.

To close this loophole, Vernon Coaker, the Home Office minister, has disclosed that social networking sites could be forced to retain information about users' web-browsing habits. They could be required to hold data about every person users correspond with via the sites, although the contents of messages sent would not be collected. Mr Coaker said: "Social networking sites, such as MySpace or Bebo, are not covered by the directive. That is one reason why the Government are looking at what we should do about the intercept modernisation programme because there are certain aspects of communications which are not covered by the directive."

In exchanges with the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Tom Brake, he insisted: "I accept this is an extremely difficult area. The interface between retaining data, private security and all such issues of privacy is extremely important. It is absolutely right to point out the difficulty of ensuring we maintain a capability and a capacity to deal with crime and issues of national security – and where that butts up against issues of privacy."

Facebook boasts 17 million Britons as members. Bebo, which caters mainly for teenagers and young adults, has more than 10 million users. A similar number of music fans are thought to use MySpace.

Moves to include the sites in mass surveillance of Britons' internet habits has provoked alarm among MPs, civil liberties groups and security experts.

Mr Brake said: "Plans to monitor our phone and email records threaten to be the most expensive snooper's charter in history. It is deeply worrying that they now intend to monitor social networking sites which contain very sensitive data like sexual orientation, religious beliefs and political views. Given the Government's disastrous record with large IT projects and data security, it is likely that data will leak out of every memory stick, port and disk drive when they start monitoring Facebook, Bebo and MySpace."

Isabella Sankey, policy director at Liberty, said: "Even before you throw Facebook and other social networking sites into the mix, the proposed central communications database is a terrifying prospect. It would allow the Government to record every email, text message and phone call and would turn millions of innocent Britons into permanent suspects."

Richard Clayton, a computer security expert at Cambridge University, said: "What they are doing is looking at who you communicate with and who your friends are, which is greatly intrusive into your private life."

Chris Kelly, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said yesterday that it was considering lobbying ministers over the proposal, which he called "overkill".

A Home Office spokeswoman said the Government was not interested in the content of emails, texts, conversations or social networking sites. She added: "We have been clear that communications revolution has been rapid in this country and the way in which we collect communications data needs to change so law enforcement agencies can maintain their ability to tackle terrorism and gather evidence."

03-26-2009, 06:13 PM

PM proud he sold out to EU (http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article2339712.ece)

SHAMELESS Gordon Brown declared yesterday he was PROUD Britain signed the hated Lisbon Treaty.

The PM lavished praise on the EU as he delivered his most pro-European speech to date.

He said it was “uniquely placed” to drag the world out of the economic crisis.

And in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, he hailed the Lisbon Treaty which resurrected the discredited EU constitution.

Mr Brown refused last year to give British voters a referendum on the Treaty.

But yesterday he said defiantly: “I’m proud that by a large majority our British parliament ratified the Treaty.”

His fawning comments contrasted with his frequent clashes with Brussels during his ten years as Chancellor.

They came three weeks after he paid a glowing tribute to the “irrepressible” spirit of the US in a speech to Congress.

But yesterday he said Europe must help sweep away the “old Washington consensus” — the belief in lightly-regulated markets.

He added: “Friends, today there is no old Europe, no new Europe. There is only one Europe — our home Europe.”

The PM said he wanted to put Britain “not in Europe’s slipstream but firmly in its mainstream”.

He said global markets had crossed “moral boundaries” and the EU must impose “values” on them. The PM even praised the flood of “consumer and workplace rights” passed by Brussels.

He said: “Let us not forget our EU also has the most comprehensive social protection anywhere in the world.

“A set of rights and responsibilities enhanced for the people of Britain when this Government led Britain into the social chapter.”

In the debate after his speech European People’s Party leader Joseph Daul warned against using “nationalist” phrases such as “British jobs for British workers”.

03-26-2009, 08:06 PM

'Israel treated its soldiers as guinea pigs' (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=89618&sectionid=351020202)

Israel has admitted to developing an anthrax vaccine through a secret research project involving tests on unaware army soldiers.

The Israeli Defense Ministry revealed on Wednesday that the vaccine was tested on 716 soldiers while they had not been fully informed about the study, Ynet reported.

The project, codenamed "Omer 2", was held during the first part of the 1990s and the subjects were picked out of a pool of 4,000.

Some of the soldiers, who say that the experiment has had life-threatening side effects for them, are now filing a lawsuit against the Israeli Army, Haaretz reported.

So far, 11 soldiers have sought medical attention due to the side effects sustained as result of the tests.

Israeli Physicians for Human Rights have also filed a lawsuit against the army over the experiments.

The experiments were carried out in light of what was then defined as the "strategic threat of a surprise biological attack facing Israel," the report said.

Meanwhile an official medical committee has published a report, raising doubt over motivations for advancing the experiment.

The report which was drafted by a special committee of doctors, a legal advisor, and a scientist from the Weizmann Institute of Science, was finally approved for publication on Wednesday.

The report revealed that even while the experiment was taking place, Israel had already had a stock of anthrax vaccines.

"An accelerated effort to produce large quantities of the vaccine was underway a year prior to the experiment, and by the time the experiments were launched, Israel had enough vaccines to cover the civilian concerns," the report said.

The committee also criticized the "shroud of secrecy" which the experiments' directors implemented.

"The committee was unconvinced that the need for a vaccine was duly considered by decision makers. Also, it is not clear who the decision makers were who determined the vaccine's necessity," read the report.

The only official document found by the committee about the experiment was written by the deputy Defense Minister.

03-28-2009, 01:28 PM
Government may consider mandatory animal tagging system (http://www.mercedsunstar.com/centralvalley/story/760854.html)

Cattle rancher Seth Nitschke is not one to mince words when it comes to a proposal to create a mandatory federal animal-tracking system.

"I am just not in favor of it," said Nitschke, a Newman-based rancher who raises grass-fed beef on about 650 acres in Catheys Valley and Turlock. "I think most farmers are pretty independent, and we don't want any form of government telling us what we should do and not do." Nitschke may be typical of the small but vocal minority who oppose the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Animal Identification System, which could track an animal disease with 48 hours of an outbreak.

Although the government has been pushing a voluntary identification system for several years, a Congressional hearing this month renewed fears from opponents that they might be forced into the program.

"Their plan has been to sign up as many people as they can, but after several years, it has been a failure," said Bill Bullard, CEO of the the Ranchers-Cattleman Action Legal Fund USA in Billings, Mont.

About 35 percent of the livestock premises have been registered, an initial step in the identification system.

USDA officials say that while they are taking a cautious approach to endorsing a mandatory program, they continue to urge producers of livestock -- including cattle, pork, sheep, goats and even llamas -- to participate voluntarily.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said in media reports that it is important for farmers to share their concerns about the program, and for officials to address those concerns.

03-28-2009, 06:10 PM
Government may consider mandatory animal tagging system (http://www.mercedsunstar.com/centralvalley/story/760854.html)

They already are doing this for ASPCA animals you adopt. They were getting rather tired of folks adopting cats and dogs and then letting them go after they get tired of them a few months later.

They find them things now and make you come get them. :lol:

03-30-2009, 05:43 PM
Brazil builds walls around Rio de Janeiro slums (http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN28291897)

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 28 (Reuters) - The government of Rio de Janeiro is building concrete walls to prevent sprawling slums from spreading farther into the picturesque hills of this world-famous tourist destination, an official said on Saturday.

Construction has begun in two favelas, or shantytowns, in the southern districts of Rio de Janeiro, a government spokeswoman told Reuters. One of the two is Morro Dona Marta, which police occupied in November to control crime and violence caused mostly by rival drug gangs.

Officials say the wall is to protect the remaining native forest but critics fear the move could be seen as discriminatory and become a blemish symbolizing Brazil's deep divisions between rich and poor.

"There is no discrimination. On the contrary, we are building houses for them elsewhere and improving their lives," Tania Lazzoli, spokeswoman for the secretary of public works at the state government, told Reuters.

By year-end the Rio de Janeiro state government wants to build almost 7 miles (11 km) of walls to contain 19 communities. It will spend 40 million reais ($17.6 million) and have to relocate 550 houses, Lazzoli said.

"The objective is to contain the spread of the communities and protect the forest," Lazzoli said. "There are many houses in high risk areas."

During the rainy season many shacks and primitive houses built in ravines or on hills are washed away by flash floods or mudslides.

Thousands of favelas sprung up throughout Rio de Janeiro and other major cities in recent decades, as millions of impoverished immigrants came from the countryside in search of jobs.

On Saturday the front page of the leading daily O Globo featured a picture of a gray wall beside a forest in Morro Dona Marta. Construction workers in blue overalls were seen with shovels and push carts. Middle-class apartment buildings are seen in the background.

Known for the stunning views of its rugged coastline, with golden beaches and lush mountains, Rio de Janeiro attracts millions of tourists each year -- many for its world-famed Carnival celebrations.

Violence between gangs and with police periodically erupts beyond the favelas, forcing stores and roads in entire neighborhoods to shut down. Occasionally juvenile gangs ransack tourists on the beach in posh districts such as Ipanema or Leblon.

03-30-2009, 08:32 PM
Not so much "who" but rather "what" - an idea.

:dance:Excellent response.

03-31-2009, 06:33 PM

Five million people now on DNA database (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/5078599/Five-million-people-now-on-DNA-database.html)

Figures released by the Home Office showed that there are now 5.1 million profiles on the database – up 1.4 million since February 2007.

The Home Office estimates that because of duplicates there are about 13 per cent more profiles than individuals on the database.

However, the new figures are likely to lead to increasing pressure from civil liberties campaigners, who claim that retaining innocent people's DNA is a breach of their human rights.

Since April 2004 anyone who is arrested for a recordable offence can be swabbed for their DNA, which is held indefinitely by the National Policing Improvement Agency.

In November last year, the number of profiles held on the database was estimated to be 4.4 million, but 850,000 of those belonged to people who were never charged, acquitted or had the case dropped.

In a test case brought by two Sheffield men in December last year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that retaining the samples of those who were acquitted of crimes or never charged breached their human rights.

Last year Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the records of all children under 10 would be removed from the database.

That followed the disclosure in November last year that 1.07 million of DNA profiles on the database belonged to children.

Time limits are also likely to be set on how long the profiles of people who are not convicted can be held.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: "This Government has proven itself to be relentlessly committed to building the world's largest DNA database by stealth.

"Ministers are not concerned about people's guilt or innocence, nor are they perturbed by taking profiles from babies.

"The European Court has ruled the Government's practices illegal but it continues to look for ways to defy the judgment and keep innocent people on the database."

04-02-2009, 12:45 AM
Quest for artificial nose to sniff out terrorists' fear (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article5992949.ece)

LAW enforcement agencies are seeking scientists to develop an artificial nose that can detect the smell of fear as terrorists pass through security at airports.

The US Department of Homeland Security is advertising for specialists to devise airport scanners that will sniff out “deceptive individuals”.

The technology builds on recent breakthroughs in finding human scent-prints which, many researchers believe, may be as unique to individuals as fingerprints.

Body odours also change perceptibly according to mood. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have already produced a gel that acts like the smell receptors in the human nose. Now they are trying to create a version that can isolate the tangy smell of adrenaline, the stress hormone, so that nervous passengers or those with a guilty conscience can be singled out.

Homeland Security wants a device that automatically compares odours with scents collected from crime scenes and held in a “smell bank” which, like DNA or fingerprints, could be used in court.

Last week officials said they only wanted to explore the possibilities but scientists are already predicting that it is only a matter of time before police will be able to sniff out crime artificially.

Professor Kenneth Furton, who is assembling a smell bank at Florida International University in Miami, said the technology could identify bank robbers by matching scent molecules collected from crime scenes on swabs.

He said chemists could already identify human smells by race, age and environment. Scientists will be able to tell police whether a thief is white, black or Asian, whether they are a teenager or older, and maybe even their last meal.

Furton, who taught chemistry at the University of Wales, Swansea, before moving to Miami, is also seeking body odours which mark people out as depressed. Other chemists are looking for the signature smells of cancers, asthma and other diseases.

Such advances could also be an additional tool in paternity cases, as family members give off a similar scent. Twins can smell as identical as they look.

One barrier to better security through sniffing is perfume. Detectors will have to be adapted to screen out more complicated molecules in bestselling scents such as Jennifer Lopez's Glow range and Chanel No 5 which mask natural smells and confuse detector dogs.

Natural scents can be boosted by stress, which releases hormones from armpits and hands. The odour can then spread in 20ft clouds to cling to clothes, furniture and walls.

04-03-2009, 05:54 PM
Gordon Brown Announces 'New world order is emerging' At G20 ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8IyREChuIg)

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04-05-2009, 10:14 AM

US to fight 'anti-Israeli crap' at UN (http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=90479&sectionid=3510203)

The US envoy to the United Nations says that Washington has a duty to fight the growing anti-Israeli sentiments in the world.

In a Friday interview with the Politico, Susan Rice said that the Obama White House was determined to "fight against the anti-Israel crap" at the UN.

The anti-Israeli sentiment began to become commonplace after Tel Aviv launched an all-out military strike against the Gaza Strip using conventional and uncomventional weapons against the Palestinians.

Rice hailed the attempt as a crusade for "the principles we believe in," echoing the former US administrations' staunch and blind support for Israel.

She made the remarks speaking in favor of the White House's decision to re-attend the UN's Human Rights Council.

"We have a record of abject failure from having stayed out. We've been out for the duration and it has not gotten better. It's arguably gotten worse."

The US pulled out of the UNHRC in 2006 complaining later that the body had "squandered its credibility" with repeated attacks on Israel and criticizing it for its "singular focus" on Tel Aviv in place of other "rights abusers" such as "Cuba, Myanmar and North Korea."

The US has also withdrawn from a UN-led anti-racism conference, due in Geneva later in the month. The move followed hectic Israeli attempts to portray the event as anti-Semitic because it brought into focus Israel's ill-treatment of the Palestinians and attempted to pass a resolution likening Zionism to racism.

Washington, Tel Aviv's traditional ally, has so far vetoed over 40 anti-Israeli resolutions sought by the UN Security Council. The US had also walked out of the previous conference in Durban, South Africa in protest at its draft declaration among other things.

Rice said the draft was "substantially" flawed and "rife with anti-Israeli and other problematic substance" and "not a credible basis for a responsible outcome."

"While we got a lot of love, we didn't get any progress on the document," she noted.

04-05-2009, 10:22 AM

Warning of food price hike crisis (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7982056.stm)

A crisis is unfolding in the UK as people in poverty struggle with rising food prices and the recession, the Save the Children charity has warned.

It comes as new figures from The Grocer magazine show food prices rose by more than 18% over the last year.

On Monday, the charity will launch a crisis grant scheme to help families.

The government says it believes food prices have peaked and it is tackling child poverty through increased child benefits and child tax credits.

'More unequal'

Colette Marshall, of Save the Children, said: "We are facing a crisis. Benefits simply haven't been enough and with rising food costs it means that families cannot afford to give children proper decent food.

"We think we are heading towards malnutrition here in the UK."

She is calling on the government to meet its target of halving child poverty by 2010 by putting £3bn in the Budget.

Penny Greenhough, a single mother of two young children, said the family was struggling on a food budget of £3 per head per day.

"I am having to compromise on a daily basis on quality and quantity. I used to manage, but it's getting harder and harder," she told BBC News.

"Once you get into the supermarket then you have got to start looking for the cheapest of everything, every type of commodity you want, whether it is soap powder, some meat or bread or anything else, it's always the cheapest variety," said pensioner Rita Young.

"We have to go for the cheapest of everything and it's just not doing us any good. Too much salt, too much fat, too much sugar - cheap, cheap, cheap, just isn't good enough."

Kate Green, of the Child Poverty Action Group, said that many families were buying less fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, and consuming more affordable tinned and packet food that was often higher in sugar, salt and fat.

Government efforts had lifted 600,000 children out of poverty in the last 10 years, but one in three still lived below the poverty line, she said.

"Part of the problem is... many people have seen their prosperity improve over the last 10 years, so we have become a much more unequal country," she said.

"That is very damaging for the people who just haven't kept up, and it really is quite wrong morally, and it's economically very stupid actually, not to make sure that we share the resources more equally and protect those who have least."

According to The Grocer, a typical basket of 33 items of food cost £48 a year ago. That has now risen to £57.50.

Seasonal produce has caused a small drop in monthly figures, but the cost of basic essentials remains high.

Extra benefits

James Ball, from the magazine, told the BBC: "It is the staples that have really gone up and that's tough for people who buy the cheapest food.

"Rice costs double what it did last year, baked beans are up more than a third. Lots of everyday items cost a lot more than they used to."

As the UK imports about 40% of its food, the weak pound has driven up prices. Unpredictable world harvests and a spike in oil prices last year have also played a part.

However, as British produce comes into season, prices are expected to drop.

Treasury minister Stephen Timms said a raft of benefits due to come in on Monday would help struggling families.

"Extra help on child benefit, child tax credit, the state pension, and pension credits is going to assist children, families and older people who are feeling the pinch at the moment.

"Of course we always look at the time of the budget to see if there is more that can be done but I think people will appreciate the help that is being provided."

04-06-2009, 08:46 PM

EU must stop human trafficking, says Pope in Palm Sunday address (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1167641/EU-stop-human-trafficking-says-Pope-Palm-Sunday-address.html)

The Pope has demanded the European Union and African nations take urgent action to stop the trafficking of migrants.

Benedict XVI told yesterday's Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican that the global economic crisis was driving the poor to make dangerous voyages.

He recalled the drowning last week of 200 Europe-bound Africans whose overcrowded boat capsized off Libya.

Speaking in front of thousands of pilgrims waving palm fronds in St Peter's Square in Vatican City he said: 'We can't resign ourselves to tragedies like this that unfortunately have been occurring for some time.

'The dimensions of the phenomenon make it increasingly urgent that strategies coordinated between the European Union and African states, just like adequate measures of a humanitarian nature, are taken to prevent migrants from turning to unscrupulous traffickers.'

Benedict made his appeal on migrants after leading a procession of cardinals and bishops at the start of celebrations for the fourth Palm Sunday of his pontificate.

Reflecting on his personal experiences to strengthen his message, Benedict exhorted Catholics to consider a life of sacrifice and renunciation.

'A successful life without sacrifice does not exist. If I look back on my personal life, I have to say that the moments when I said "yes" to renunciation were the biggest and most important moments of my life.'

Palm Sunday marks the start of Holy Week, and the eight days leading to Easter Sunday are the most intense in the Roman Catholic Church's liturgical calendar.

On Holy Thursday, the pope will preside over two masses recalling Christ's Last Supper with his apostles, including one where he will wash and dry the feet of 12 men.

On Good Friday he will hold two services commemorating Christ's crucifixion, including a Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession around the ancient ruins of Rome's Colosseum.

04-06-2009, 08:55 PM

Police 'assaulted' bystander who died during G20 protest (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/05/g20-protest-ian-tomlinson)

The man who died during last week's G20 protests was "assaulted" by riot police shortly before he suffered a heart attack, according to witness statements received by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Investigators are examining a series of corroborative accounts that allege Ian Tomlinson, 47, was a victim of police violence in the moments before he collapsed near the Bank of England in the City of London last Wednesday evening. Three witnesses have told the Observer that Mr Tomlinson was attacked violently as he made his way home from work at a nearby newsagents. One claims he was struck on the head with a baton.

Photographer Anna Branthwaite said: "I can remember seeing Ian Tomlinson. He was rushed from behind by a riot officer with a helmet and shield two or three minutes before he collapsed." Branthwaite, an experienced press photographer, has made a statement to the IPCC.

Another independent statement supports allegations of police violence. Amiri Howe, 24, recalled seeing Mr Tomlinson being hit "near the head" with a police baton. Howe took one of a sequence of photographs that show a clearly dazed Mr Tomlinson being helped by a bystander.

A female protester, who does not want to be named but has given her testimony to the IPCC, said she saw a man she later recognised as Tomlinson being pushed aggressively from behind by officers. "I saw a man violently propelled forward, as though he'd been flung by the arm, and fall forward on his head.

"He hit the top front area of his head on the pavement. I noticed his fall particularly because it struck me as a horrifically forceful push by a policeman and an especially hard fall; it made me wince."

Mr Tomlinson, a married man who lived alone in a bail hostel, was not taking part in the protests. Initially, his death was attributed by a police post mortem to natural causes. A City of London police statement said: "[He] suffered a sudden heart attack while on his way home from work."

But this version of events was challenged after witnesses recognised the dead man from photographs that were published on Friday.

An IPCC statement was due to be released the same day and is understood to have portrayed the death as a tragic accident. However, the statement's release was postponed as the complaints body received information that police officers may have been more involved in events than previously thought. An IPCC spokesman said yesterday that in light of new statements it was "assessing" the information it had received before deciding whether to launch a full investigation.

Part of the commission's inquiries will involve the examination of CCTV footage from the area.

Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth said: "Eventually there will have to be a full inquest with a jury. It is a possibility this death was at police hands."

A police source told the Observer that Mr Tomlinson appears to have become caught between police lines and protesters, with officers chasing back demonstrators during skirmishes. He was seen stumbling before he collapsed and died on Cornhill Street, opposite St Michael's Alley, around 7.25pm.

At around 7.10pm, protesters had gathered outside the police cordon to call for those contained inside - some for hours - to be let out. Officers with batons and shields attempted to clear them from the road.

Around 7.20pm, five riot police, and a line of officers with dogs, emerged from Royal Exchange Square, a pedestrian side street. Three images taken around this time show Mr Tomlinson on the pavement, in front of five riot police, and in apparent distress. He had one arm in the air, and appeared to be in discussion with the officers.

Mr Tomlinson then appears to have been lifted to his feet by a bystander. Minutes later he fell to the ground. "We saw this guy staggering around," said Natalie Langford, 21, a student. "He looked disorientated. About five seconds later he fell, and I grabbed my friends to help him."

Police have claimed that when paramedics tried to move Mr Tomlinson away for urgent treatment, bottles were thrown at them by protesters. He was later pronounced dead at hospital.

Branthwaite added: "He [Mr Tomlinson] was not a mouthy kid or causing problems, but the police seemed to have lost control and were trying to push protesters back. The police had started to filter people into a side street off Cornhill. There were a few stragglers who were just walking through between the police and protesters. Mr Tomlinson was one of those."

The police tactics during the G20 protests were condemned in the aftermath of the demonstrations. The clearance of a climate camp along Bishopsgate by riot police with batons and dogs after nightfall on Wednesday came in for particular criticism.

Protesters marched to Bethnal Green police station in east London yesterday to demand a public inquiry into Mr Tomlinson's death.

04-08-2009, 08:32 PM

Brown DOES do God as he calls for new world order in sermon at St Paul's (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1166182/Brown-DOES-God-calls-new-world-order-sermon-St-Pauls.html)

Gordon Brown has made an overtly religious call for a new world order based on the 'deep moral sense' shared by all faiths.

Making the first speech by a serving Prime Minister at St Paul's Cathedral in London, he quoted scripture as he urged people to unite to forge a new 'global society'.

The Prime Minister argued that through all faiths, traditions and heritages runs a 'single powerful modern sense demanding responsibility from all and fairness to all'.

He quoted the Christian doctrine of 'do to others what you would have them do unto you' and highlighted similar principles in Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism.

'They each and all reflect a sense that we share the pain of others, and a sense that we believe in something bigger than ourselves - that we cannot be truly content while others face despair, cannot be completely at ease while others live in fear, cannot be satisfied while others are in sorrow,' he said.

'We all feel, regardless of the source of our philosophy, the same deep moral sense that each of us is our brother and sisters' keeper . . . we cannot and will not pass by on the other side when people are suffering and when we have it within our power to help.'

He went on to suggest the world economy and society should be rebuilt around a Zulu word for hope - themba - which is also an acronym for 'there must be an alternative'.

The speech was an extraordinary break from his predecessor Tony Blair, whose spin doctor Alastair Campbell famously declared that 'we don't do God'.

At Westminster it was also seen as high risk for a Government mired in allegations of sleaze to put morality and faith at the centre of its political and economic message.

The speech was an extraordinary break from his predecessor Tony Blair, whose spin doctor Alastair Campbell famously declared that 'we don't do God'.

At Westminster it was also seen as high risk for a Government mired in allegations of sleaze to put morality and faith at the centre of its political and economic message.

'We can now see that markets cannot self-regulate but they can self-destruct,' he added. Critics said Mr Brown undermined his high moral tone by injecting some low politics into his address.

He claimed those that would 'do nothing' and let the recession 'run its course' - his traditional attack on the Tories - 'demean our humanity'.

The Prime Minister also raised eyebrows by claiming he had been arguing for 'some time' that there are limits to markets.

For more than a decade, Labour enthusiastically championed the 'light touch' regulation of the City, now blamed for letting bankers take massive risks.

Speaking to a congregation of 2,000 faith and City leaders, charity workers and schoolchildren, Mr Brown again dodged calls to apologise for his role in the financial crisis.

'I have always said I take full responsibility for my actions,' he declared. '

But I also know that this crisis is global in source and global in scale. I believe that unsupervised globalisation of our financial markets did not only cross national boundaries - it crossed moral boundaries too.'

The Prime Minister said financial institutions and markets must in future operate around the ' enduring virtues' of everyday life.

'Our financial system must be founded on the very same values that are at the heart of our family lives,' he said.

04-09-2009, 04:52 PM
Obama to seek $83.4 billion for Iraq, Afghan wars (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/obama_war_costs)

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is seeking $83.4 billion for U.S. military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, pressing for special troop funding that he opposed two years ago when he was senator and George W. Bush was president.

Obama's request, including money to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, would push the costs of the two wars to almost $1 trillion since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to the Congressional Research Service. The additional money would cover operations into the fall.

Obama is also requesting $400 million to upgrade security along the U.S.-Mexico border and to combat narcoterrorists.

Budget office spokesman Tom Gavin said the White House would send an official request to Congress Thursday afternoon. Congressional aides who had been briefed on the request revealed its overall cost in advance.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, acknowledged that Obama had been critical of Bush's use of similar special legislation to pay for the wars. He said it was needed this time because the money will be required by summer, before Congress is likely to complete its normal appropriations process.

"This will be the last supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan. The process by which this has been funded over the course of the past many years, the president has discussed and will change," Gibbs said.

He said the measure is required to pay for the new strategy in Afghanistan and the drawdown of combat troops in Iraq. The White House plans for future war expenses to be part of the annual Pentagon funding bill.

Obama was a harsh critic of the Iraq war as a presidential candidate, a stance that attracted support from the Democratic Party's liberal base and helped him secure his party's nomination. He opposed two infusions of war funding in 2007 after Bush used a veto to force Congress to remove a withdrawal timeline from the $99 billion measure.

But he supported a war funding bill last year that also included about $25 billion for domestic programs. Obama also voted for war funding in 2006, before he announced his candidacy for president.

The upcoming request will include $75.8 billion for the military and more than $7 billion in foreign aid. Pakistan, a key ally in the fight against al-Qaida, will receive $400 million in aid to combat insurgents.

The upcoming debate in Congress is likely to provide an early test of Obama's efforts to remake the Pentagon and its much-criticized weapons procurement system. He is requesting four F-22 fighter jets costing about $600 million as part of the war funding package but wants to shut the F-22 program down after that.

The special measure would include $3.6 billion for the Afghanistan National Army.

The White House wants the bill for the president's signature by Memorial Day, said a House Democratic aide.

Obama announced plans in February to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq on a 19-month timetable.

His new request would push the war money approved for 2009 to about $150 billion. The totals were $171 billion for 2007 and $188 billion for 2008, the year Bush increased the tempo of military operations in a generally successful effort to quell the Iraq insurgency.

04-10-2009, 01:11 AM

That's like da 2nd time that Brown has called for a New World Order.

04-10-2009, 06:44 PM
That's like da 2nd time that Brown has called for a New World Order.

I can remember 3 times: 1) St. Paul's in London 2) During G20 3) During another speech.

Gordon very much believes in the value of a New World Order and is very pro-globalist.

04-10-2009, 06:49 PM
Chavez says China part of 'new world order' (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jCmhDtddtFPnJgKiIEfGCU1H0vfQD97E7PN01)

BEIJING (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his two-day visit to Beijing this week is part of the creation of a "new world order."

The frequent U.S. critic, who met with China's president and Communist Party leader Hu Jintao on Wednesday, told reporters that power in the world was shifting from America to countries such as Iran, Japan and China.

"We are creating a new world, a balanced world. A new world order, a multipolar world," Chavez said after arriving Tuesday evening.

"The unipolar world has collapsed. The power of the U.S. empire has collapsed," he said. "Everyday, the new poles of world power are becoming stronger. Beijing, Tokyo, Tehran ... it's moving toward the East and toward the South."

Chavez continued his theme in his meeting with Hu, telling the president that "no one can be ignorant that the center of gravity of the world has moved to Beijing."

"During the financial crisis, China's actions have been highly positive for the world. Currently, China is the biggest motor driving the world amidst this crisis of international capitalism," Chavez said in preliminary remarks before reporters were ushered from the room.

Chavez has made Beijing a frequent stop in his global travels to promote his agenda of anti-American world unity, stopping in the Chinese capital six times since taking power in 1998 elections.

His visit follows a sweep through the Middle East last week, including a stop in Iran where he said he has little hope of better relations with Washington under President Barack Obama because the United States was still acting like an "empire" in his eyes.

While China's Communist leaders have been low key in their response to Chavez's political rhetoric, Beijing's state-run industries have been eager to use Venezuela as a jumping-off point for their entry into South America. Chinese companies in the mining and petroleum sector have been especially eager to secure South American mineral resources.

During his visit, Chavez said he planned to review with Chinese leaders a goal of boosting exports of Venezuelan oil to China from 380,000 barrels last year to 1 million barrels by 2013 — part of Venezuela's strategy of diversifying oil sales away from the United States, which buys about half the South American nation's heavy crude despite political tensions.

Included in that strategy are plans for China and Venezuela to build four oil tankers and three refineries in China capable of processing Venezuela's heavy, sulfur-laden crude.

China and Venezuela have also invested in a $12 billion fund to finance joint development projects in areas including oil production, infrastructure and agriculture.

04-10-2009, 08:34 PM
I wish they would hurry and collapse the system so the war can begin.

04-10-2009, 10:15 PM
And yet people still refuse to believe that all of these muthafuckas are in cahoots & are pushin' da same agenda. It's sickening. :smh:

04-12-2009, 12:29 PM

New vaccination fears over plan to give hepatitis jabs at eight weeks old (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1169330/New-vaccination-fears-plan-hepatitis-jabs-weeks-old.html)

Babies could be routinely vaccinated against hepatitis B under controversial plans being discussed by Government experts.

Cases of the disease, a blood infection which is often transmitted sexually, are said to be spiralling in Britain.

An influential committee on vaccination is considering adding it to a combination jab given to babies at eight weeks.

This would create a six-in-one vaccine which would also immunise against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Hib disease – a form of pneumonia.

But campaigners are concerned about the ‘over-vaccination’ of children and fear any complications caused by adding hepatitis B to the jab would be difficult to spot.

By the age of four, a child will have received 32 vaccines, some in multishot jabs including the MMR against measles, mumps and rubella.

The driving force behind the change is concern that infected immigrants are contributing to a rising tide of hepatitis B.

The virus is commonly spread by unprotected sex and needle sharing among drug addicts, and is 100 times more infectious than HIV. The disease can lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Because it can be spread by only a tiny amount of blood through cuts and grazes, it is thought children in playgroups could be particularly vulnerable to catching it.

But GP Dr Richard Halvorsen, director of the Babyjabs single vaccines clinic, said he was opposed to the vaccination move.

He said: ‘The children at most risk are born to mothers carrying the virus and they are already given immunisation at birth.’

He said a 2004 study found adults immunised against hepatitis B were three times more likely to develop multiple sclerosis in the three years after vaccination.

The campaign group JABS, said the hepatitis B vaccine had also been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which from this month has greater powers to decide UK vaccine policy, is due to discuss the plans at its next meeting in June.

According to one member of the committee, there is ‘huge pressure’ to introduce a universal vaccination against the infection.

The British Medical Association and the charity Hepatitis Foundation UK have previously called for all babies to be immunised against hepatitis B.

The move would also bring the UK in line with World Health Organisation policy.

Stella Pendleton, from Hepatitis Foundation UK, said: ‘The trouble is hepatitis B is known as a silent killer because there are often no symptoms until real damage has been done. I understand parents’ concerns, but a child vaccinated at a young age will always be protected.’

Andrew Thomson, of the BMA’s Board of Science, said infection rates were spiralling and that treating the infection was costing the NHS millions.

High risk areas for the disease include South Asia, Africa and parts of Eastern Europe. Many migrants from these areas settle in Britain.

The condition can kill five per cent of those who contract it.

The Hepatitis Foundation UK puts the numbers carrying the virus in the UK at 326,000 – double the official estimated figure seven years ago. Data from the Health Protection Agency show there are 700 cases diagnosed each year, 30 of them in children.

A Health Department spokesman said last night: ‘The safety of children is always paramount whenever decisions are taken regarding what vaccines are included as part of the child vaccination programme.’

04-13-2009, 05:38 PM
Gordon Brown's plan for army of teen volunteers (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/5143911/Gordon-Browns-plan-for-army-of-teen-volunteers.html)

The Prime Minister said a pledge to introduce compulsory community service would be included in Labour's next general election manifesto.

Under the scheme, the work - which could include helping out charities in the UK and abroad - is likely to become part of the National Curriculum. It would be integrated into moves to make everyone stay in education or training until the age of 18 by 2011.

Writing in the News of the World, Mr Brown insisted: "It is my ambition to create a Britain in which there is a clear expectation that all young people will undertake some service to their community, and where community service will become a normal part of growing up in Britain.

"And, by doing so, the contributions of each of us will build a better society for all of us."

He went on: "That would mean young people being expected to contribute at least 50 hours of community service by the time they have reached the age of 19.

"This will build on the platform provided by citizenship classes as they develop in our schools. But because the greater part of what I envisage as community service takes place outside the school day, it will require the close involvement of local community organisations and charities."

There would also be a "clear system of accreditation" to mark what youngsters have achieved through voluntary work, he added.

Mr Brown proposed the idea of a National Youth Service to channel teenagers into voluntary work last year. It is due to be formally launched in September, and would become compulsory if Labour was re-elected.

04-16-2009, 03:20 PM

Iraq air raids hit mostly women and children (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-air-raids-hit-mostly-women-and-children-1669282.html)

Air strikes and artillery barrages have taken a heavy toll among the most vulnerable of the Iraqi people, with children and women forming a disproportionate number of the dead.

Analysis carried out for the research group Iraq Body Count (IBC) found that 39 per cent of those killed in air raids by the US-led coalition were children and 46 per cent were women. Fatalities caused by mortars, used by American and Iraqi government forces as well as insurgents, were 42 per cent children and 44 per cent women.

Twelve per cent of those killed by suicide bombings, mainly the tool of militant Sunni groups, were children and 16 per cent were females. One in five (21 per cent) of those killed by car bombs, used by both Shia and Sunni fighters, was a child; one in four (28 per cent) was a woman.

The figures, compiled by academics at King’s College and Royal Holloway, University of London, show that hi-tech weaponry has caused lethal damage to those in the population who would be furthest away from the conflict.

The victims of one of the most brutal and common types of killings in the war – abduction and execution by death squad – were 95 per cent men, many of them bearing marks of torture.

The report, The Weapons That Kill Civilians, Deaths of Children and Noncombatants in Iraq, was compiled from a sample of 60,481 deaths in 14,196 events over a five-year period since the 2003 invasion. Civilian casualties from concentrated bouts of violence, such as the two sieges of Fallujah, were excluded.

IBC estimates that the total deaths in the conflict so far number 99,774. The medical journal The Lancet has maintained in another study that more than 600,000 people were killed in the first three years of the war. IBC holds that the indiscriminate nature of the fatalities caused by air strikes shows they should not be used in urban areas.

Growing anger over civilian casualties caused by air raids in another front of the “war on terror”, Afghanistan, has led to the US, UK and their Nato partners reviewing their policy of using warplanes. Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, recently said this had become the most contentious issue between him and Western powers.

From 2004 to 2007, the overall tonnage of munition dropped from planes in the Afghan conflict rose from 163 tonnes a year to 1,956 tonnes, an increase of 1,100 per cent. Since 2001 the US air force has dropped 14,049 tonnes of bombs in Afghanistan and 18,858 in Iraq.

Professor John Sloboda, of Royal Holloway, co-author of the report, said: “Our weapon-specific findings have implications for a wide range of conflicts, because the patterns found in this study are likely to be replicated for these weapons whenever they are used.

*Last night a US army sergeant was facing life imprisonment after being found guilty of executing four Iraqi detainees in 2007. Master Sgt John Hartley shot four men in the head and dumped their bodies in a canal in West Rasheed area of Baghdad. He is due to be sentenced today.

04-18-2009, 05:12 PM
Jackie Chan: Chinese people need to be controlled (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090418/ap_en_ot/as_china_people_jackie_chan)

BOAO, China – Action star Jackie Chan said Saturday he's not sure if a free society is a good thing for China and that he's starting to think "we Chinese need to be controlled."

Chan's comments drew applause from a predominantly Chinese audience of business leaders in China's southern island province of Hainan.

The 55-year-old Hong Kong actor was participating in a panel at the annual Boao Forum when he was asked to discuss censorship and restrictions on filmmakers in China. He expanded his comments to include society.

"I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not," Chan said. "I'm really confused now. If you're too free, you're like the way Hong Kong is now. It's very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic."

Chan added: "I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we're not being controlled, we'll just do what we want."

The kung fu star has not been a vocal supporter of the pro-democracy movement in his hometown of Hong Kong. Since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, voters have not been allowed to directly elect their leader. Several massive street protests have been held to demand full democracy, but Beijing has repeatedly said Hong Kong isn't ready for it.

The theme at Saturday's panel discussion was "Tapping into Asia's Creative Industry Potential," and Chan had several opinions about innovation in China.

He said that early in his career, he lived in the shadow of the late martial arts star Bruce Lee. He said that during his first foray into Hollywood, he struggled to establish his own identity, so he returned to Hong Kong. After spending 15 years building his reputation in Asia, Chan finally got rediscovered by Hollywood, he said.

Chan said the problem with Chinese youth is that "they like other people's things. They don't like their own things." Young people need to spend more time developing their own style, he added.

The action hero complained that Chinese goods still have too many quality problems. He became emotional when discussing contaminated milk powder that sickened tens of thousands of Chinese babies in the past year.

Speaking fast with his voice rising, Chan said, "If I need to buy a TV, I'll definitely buy a Japanese TV. A Chinese TV might explode."

04-19-2009, 10:32 AM

F.B.I. and States Vastly Expand DNA Databases (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/us/19DNA.html?_r=2)

Law enforcement officials are vastly expanding their collection of DNA to include millions more people who have been arrested or detained but not yet convicted. The move, intended to help solve more crimes, is raising concerns about the privacy of petty offenders and people who are presumed innocent.

Until now, the federal government genetically tracked only convicts. But starting this month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will join 15 states that collect DNA samples from those awaiting trial and will collect DNA from detained immigrants — the vanguard of a growing class of genetic registrants.

The F.B.I., with a DNA database of 6.7 million profiles, expects to accelerate its growth rate from 80,000 new entries a year to 1.2 million by 2012 — a 17-fold increase. F.B.I. officials say they expect DNA processing backlogs — which now stand at more than 500,000 cases — to increase.

Law enforcement officials say that expanding the DNA databanks to include legally innocent people will help solve more violent crimes. They point out that DNA has helped convict thousands of criminals and has exonerated more than 200 wrongfully convicted people.

But criminal justice experts cite Fourth Amendment privacy concerns and worry that the nation is becoming a genetic surveillance society.

“DNA databases were built initially to deal with violent sexual crimes and homicides — a very limited number of crimes,” said Harry Levine, a professor of sociology at City University of New York who studies policing trends. “Over time more and more crimes of decreasing severity have been added to the database. Cops and prosecutors like it because it gives everybody more information and creates a new suspect pool.”

Courts have generally upheld laws authorizing compulsory collection of DNA from convicts and ex-convicts under supervised release, on the grounds that criminal acts diminish privacy rights.

DNA extraction upon arrest potentially erodes that argument, a recent Congressional study found. “Courts have not fully considered legal implications of recent extensions of DNA-collection to people whom the government has arrested but not tried or convicted,” the report said.

Minors are required to provide DNA samples in 35 states upon conviction, and in some states upon arrest. Three juvenile suspects in November filed the only current constitutional challenge against taking DNA at the time of arrest. The judge temporarily stopped DNA collection from the three youths, and the case is continuing.

Sixteen states now take DNA from some who have been found guilty of misdemeanors. As more police agencies take DNA for a greater variety of lesser and suspected crimes, civil rights advocates say the government’s power is becoming too broadly applied. “What we object to — and what the Constitution prohibits — is the indiscriminate taking of DNA for things like writing an insufficient funds check, shoplifting, drug convictions,” said Michael Risher, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.

This year, California began taking DNA upon arrest and expects to nearly double the growth rate of its database, to 390,000 profiles a year from 200,000.

One of those was Brian Roberts, 29, who was awaiting trial for methamphetamine possession. Inside the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles last month, Mr. Roberts let a sheriff’s deputy swab the inside of his cheek.

Mr. Roberts’s DNA will be translated into a numerical sequence at the F.B.I.’s DNA database, the largest in the world.

The system will search for matches between Mr. Roberts’s DNA and other profiles every Monday, from now into the indeterminate future — until one day, perhaps decades hence, Mr. Roberts might leave a drop of blood or semen at some crime scene.

Law enforcement officials say that DNA extraction upon arrest is no different than fingerprinting at routine bookings and that states purge profiles after people are cleared of suspicion. In practice, defense lawyers say this is a laborious process that often involves a court order. (The F.B.I. says it has never received a request to purge a profile from its database.)

When DNA is taken in error, expunging a profile can be just as difficult. In Pennsylvania, Ellyn Sapper, a Philadelphia public defender, has spent weeks trying to expunge the profile taken erroneously of a 14-year-old boy guilty of assault and bicycle theft. “I’m going to have to get a judge’s order to make sure that all references to his DNA are gone,” she said.

The police say that the potential hazards of genetic surveillance are worth it because it solves crimes and because DNA is more accurate than other physical evidence. “I’ve watched women go from mug-book to mug-book looking for the man who raped her,” said Mitch Morrissey, the Denver district attorney and an advocate for more expansive DNA sampling. “It saves women’s lives.”

Mr. Morrissey pointed to Britain, which has fewer privacy protections than the United States and has been taking DNA upon arrest for years. It has a population of 61 million — and 4.5 million DNA profiles. “About 8 percent of the people commit about 70 percent of your crimes, so if you can get the majority of that community, you don’t have to do more than that,” he said.

In the United States, 8 percent of the population would be roughly 24 million people.

Britain may provide a window into America’s genetic surveillance future: As of March 2008, 857,000 people in the British database, or about one-fifth, have no current criminal record. In December, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Britain violated international law by collecting DNA profiles from innocent people, including children as young as 10.

Critics are also disturbed by the demographics of DNA databases. Again Britain is instructive. According to a House of Commons report, 27 percent of black people and 42 percent of black males are genetically registered, compared with 6 percent of white people.

As in Britain, expanding genetic sampling in the United States could exacerbate racial disparities in the criminal justice system, according to Hank Greely, a Stanford University Law School professor who studies the intersection of genetics, policing and race. Mr. Greely estimated that African-Americans, who are about 12 percent of the national population, make up 40 percent of the DNA profiles in the federal database, reflective of their prison population. He also expects Latinos, who are about 13 percent of the population and committed 40 percent of last year’s federal offenses — nearly half of them immigration crimes — to dominate DNA databases.

Enforcement officials contend that DNA is blind to race. Federal profiles include little more information than the DNA sequence and the referring police agency. Subjects’ names are usually kept by investigators.

Rock Harmon, a former prosecutor for Alameda County, Calif., and an adviser to crime laboratories, said DNA demographics reflected the criminal population. Even if an innocent man’s DNA was included in a genetic database, he said, it would come to nothing without a crime scene sample to match it. “If you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear,” he said.

04-23-2009, 02:07 PM

Australia should have a one-child policy, says lobby group (http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,25368713-5001021,00.html)

AUSTRALIA should consider having a one-child policy to protect the planet, an environmental lobby group said.

Sustainable Population Australia said slashing population was the only way to avoid "environmental suicide".

National president Sandra Kanck wants Australia's population of almost 22 million reduced to seven million to tackle climate change.

And restricting each couple to one baby, as China does, was "one way of assisting to reduce the population".

"It's something we need to throw into the mix," the former Democrats parliamentarian said.

04-27-2009, 05:12 PM

Children tracked by sat nav to stop bad behaviour (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/technology/technologynews/5205662/Children-tracked-by-sat-nav-to-stop-bad-behaviour.html)

Children will be tracked by satellite on public transport and encouraged to spy on their friends and report bad behaviour, under a pilot scheme by the Welsh Assembly.

The project is being trialled across the six North Wales counties to tackle anti-social behaviour on school buses.

Pupils will use a picture swipe card to clock on and off the bus allowing parents to keep a closer check on their child via a website.

It will help deal with a number of issues including truancy, drivers reporting and identifying ill-behaved children and monitoring a child's whereabouts in the event of them going missing or a bus breakdown.

The scheme include 'Bus Angels' aged 14 and above, who covertly report incidents of bad behaviour,

Peter Daniels, transport manager at Denbighshire County Council said: "The main aims are to support schools, drivers, parents and pupils on school buses to improve behaviour and enable them to understand the consequences of some of the things they do.

"I have to say in north east Wales we don't really see trouble and misbehaviour, but in the afternoon some of the pupils can be jolly and minor anti-social behaviour can occur, or from time to time something more serious.

"I have to say in north east Wales we don't really see trouble and misbehaviour, but in the afternoon some of the pupils can be jolly and minor anti-social behaviour can occur, or from time to time something more serious.

"It's very much like the scheme in London where an Oystercard user boards a bus and taps in and then taps out when he or she gets off.

"Using GPS tracking, parents will know exactly where their pupils are on the bus."

04-29-2009, 05:20 PM

Indonesia floats idea of man-made swine flu (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=92794&sectionid=3510212)

As swine flu continues to take its toll, claims surface that the deadly four-part flu virus could have been created for "bio-terror attacks."

Speaking at a conference to reassure the public over hers government's response to the swine flu threat, Indonesian Heath Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said Tuesday that the controversial virus could have been man-made.

She declined to elaborate on her claim but she had previously accused Western governments of making and spreading viruses in the developing world to boost pharmaceutical companies' profits, AFP reported.

"I'm not sure whether the virus was genetically engineered but it's a possibility," Supari said.

Supari assured Indonesians that the deadly virus could not survive in tropical countries like Indonesia which was the worst hit country by the bird flu virus.

"H1N1 survives in countries with four seasons. The type A H1N1 virus hopefully won't be able to sustain itself once it enters the tropical climate of Indonesia," she added.

No cases of swine flu have been reported in Indonesia. It has banned imports of live pigs and pork products.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised its pandemic alert to level four, which means the virus is capable of significant human-to-human transmission. The virus has so far killed nearly 150 people in Mexico and has been reported in eleven countries, including Mexico, the US and Spain.

Several other countries from Colombia to New Zealand are investigating suspected cases.

Health experts say the virus comes from the same strain of virus that causes seasonal outbreaks in humans. They point out that this newly-detected version, which is highly contagious and fast-mutating, also contains genetic material from the types of influenza that afflict swine and birds.

05-06-2009, 07:30 PM
New 3shot Government flu vaccine Program? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwdWdr_zE_o)

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05-07-2009, 10:45 AM

Innocent Names To Be Kept On DNA Database (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20090507/tuk-innocent-names-to-be-kept-on-dna-dat-45dbed5.html)

DNA profiles of innocent people will continue to be held for up to 12 years on a database used to fight crime, under Government plans.

The announcement is a compromise, in response to a ruling by the European Court last year which said holding details of people who had not broken the law was a violation of their human rights.

The man who took the Government to the European Court was Michael Marper, a 49-year-old from Sheffield.

His DNA was taken by police in 2001 when he was arrested and charged with harassing his partner. The case was later dropped after the couple settled their differences and got back together. The court in Strasbourg ruled in his favour last December.

Speaking exclusively to Sky News, Mr Marper said the policy of retaining the DNA of innocent people was wrong.

"It was an invasion of privacy, I was offended," he said.

"They'd taken my rights away and I wasn't going to let them do that.

"If people get arrested for assault then, yes, their DNA should be taken. But if it goes to court, and it fails, they should be taken off... that way there'll be no innocent people on the database."

Although Mr Marper's details have now been removed, hundreds of thousands of other people in his position will have to wait far longer for their own details to be deleted.

The Government's proposals state that the DNA samples provided by innocent people will be quickly destroyed and their profiles will be removed from the database, but not immediately.

Anyone accused of serious violent and sexual offences, who are released without charge or later cleared of an offence, will still have their DNA profiles held for 12 years.

Anyone falsely accused of less serious crimes will stay on the database for six years.

The Home Office estimates that this could ultimately result in 850,000 people being removed from the database, but warns that the process of checking each entry could take two years.

Policing Minister Vernon Coaker said: "What the European Court ruling said was that it was the indefinite retention of these samples that was the issue and that's why we've responded in the way that we have.

"But let's not forget that by keeping DNA on arrest it means that the police have been able to find and through the courts convict people for homicide, for rape, for serious violent crimes, for serious sexual crimes, people who would otherwise have escaped justice."

The UK DNA database is one of the largest of its kind in the world, holding almost five million records of finger prints, mouth swabs and samples from hair and skin cells.

However, at least a fifth are thought to belong to innocent people.

Hugh Whitall, from the Nuffield Council For Bioethics, said: "It is a question of proportionality but having innocent people's DNA on the database indefinitely is clearly unacceptable.

"A proportionate approach that looks at the evidence and considers what is a reasonable time in view of all the circumstances is obviously a better policy.

"Now we need to look at the detail and see whether the balance is right between protecting privacy and fighting crime, but broadly these proposals seem to be going in the right direction."

Supporters of the database point to a number of high profile cases in recent years, where DNA evidence has been instrumental in securing convictions.

Included is the case of serial killer Steve Wright, jailed for the murder of five prostitutes in the Ipswich area in 2006.

Another man convicted largely through DNA evidence was Mark Dixie who was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty last year of murdering 18-year-old model Sally Ann Bowman.

05-08-2009, 03:24 PM

Government wants the military to run state schools (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1178508/Right-fall-line-orrible-little-pupils-Government-wants-military-run-state-schools.html)

The Armed Forces will be drafted in to run state schools under plans to drive up discipline and respect in classrooms.

Ministers are in talks with defence chiefs about taking over a handful of schools and turning them into military academies.

Alongside daily lessons, pupils would be expected to take part in activities such as drills, uniformed parades, weapons handling and adventure training.

The first state schools set to gain 'military academy' status are understood to be based in Portsmouth and Colchester.

The controversial scheme will initially be in areas where there are a large number of military families, but is set to be rolled out across the country.

Ministers believe that children in failing schools would particularly benefit from a military-style education because it would give them role models and a more structured existence.

But the plan is likely to raise fears among teaching unions that the academies could turn into tough 'boot camps' or recruiting stations.
Last year, union leaders accused the Army of giving children 'misleading propaganda' about life in the Armed Forces.

The National Union of Teachers also vowed to back any teachers who wanted to boycott the services' recruitment drives.

The latest idea comes as the Government prepares to launch a major extension of the 'school cadet force' scheme in deprived areas.

Gordon Brown is a strong supporter of the military's involvement in schools, which he believes teaches young people discipline and pride their country.

The first academy school dedicated entirely to the Armed Forces was announced last week, giving the Ministry of Defence a role in state education for the first time.

The Duke of York's Royal Military School in Dover, which offers boarding places for the children of military personnel, will also offer 200 extra places to youngsters from non-military backgrounds.

But senior Whitehall sources have revealed that the Army is looking at taking over a secondary state school in Portsmouth, while the Parachute Regiment is considering running a secondary school in Colchester.

Last night, critics of the scheme cast doubts over whether the over- stretched Armed Forces have the funding or resources to take on extra educational responsibilities.

The sources also stressed that no pupil would be forced to take part in any activity against their will.

One said: 'This is not about teaching pupils to shoot people. The Armed Forces can be a force for good in our schools and teach important skills including teamwork and respect.'

Schools Minister Jim Knight said: 'Academy status for the Duke of York's is ideal and will mean they can continue to march to the beat of their own drum by retaining their military ethos and curriculum.

'I hope this is just the beginning of an even closer relationship between our Armed Forces and schools, particularly with providing boarding facilities for those families who are often on the move and in garrison town communities.'

However, David Laws, Liberal Democrat Education spokesman, called the policy 'yet another Labour gimmick'.

'While many schools would no doubt benefit from a dose of Army discipline, there is real doubt as to whether this is a clear policy or just another Gordon Brown gimmick,' he said.

'Hazel Blears recently warned against Government gimmicks but it seems as though the Prime Minister has yet to take note.'

05-10-2009, 07:23 PM

G20 police 'used undercover men to incite crowds' (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/may/10/g20-policing-agent-provacateurs)

An MP who was involved in last month's G20 protests in London is to call for an investigation into whether the police used agents provocateurs to incite the crowds.

Liberal Democrat Tom Brake says he saw what he believed to be two plain-clothes police officers go through a police cordon after presenting their ID cards.

Brake, who along with hundreds of others was corralled behind police lines near Bank tube station in the City of London on the day of the protests, says he was informed by people in the crowd that the men had been seen to throw bottles at the police and had encouraged others to do the same shortly before they passed through the cordon.

Brake, a member of the influential home affairs select committee, will raise the allegations when he gives evidence before parliament's joint committee on human rights on Tuesday.

"When I was in the middle of the crowd, two people came over to me and said, 'There are people over there who we believe are policemen and who have been encouraging the crowd to throw things at the police,'" Brake said. But when the crowd became suspicious of the men and accused them of being police officers, the pair approached the police line and passed through after showing some form of identification.

Brake has produced a draft report of his experiences for the human rights committee, having received written statements from people in the crowd. These include Tony Amos, a photographer who was standing with protesters in the Royal Exchange between 5pm and 6pm. "He [one of the alleged officers] was egging protesters on. It was very noticeable," Amos said. "Then suddenly a protester seemed to identify him as a policeman and turned on him. He legged it towards the police line, flashed some ID and they just let him through, no questions asked."

Amos added: "He was pretty much inciting the crowd. He could not be called an observer. I don't believe in conspiracy theories but this really struck me. Hopefully, a review of video evidence will clear this up."

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has received 256 complaints relating to the G20 protests. Of these, 121 have been made about the use of force by police officers, while 75 relate to police tactics. The IPCC said it had no record of complaints involving the use of police agents provocateurs. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "We would never deploy officers in this way or condone such behaviour."

The use of plain-clothes officers in crowd situations is considered a vital tactic for gathering evidence. It has been used effectively to combat football hooliganism in the UK and was employed during the May Day protests in 2001.

Brake said he intends to raise the allegations with the Met's commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, when he next appears before the home affairs select committee. "There is a logic having plain-clothes officers in the crowd, but no logic if the officers are actively encouraging violence, which would be a source of great concern," Brake said.

The MP said that given only a few people were allowed out of the corralled crowd for the five hours he was held inside it, there should be no problem in investigating the allegation by examining video footage.

05-14-2009, 02:21 PM
Bilderberg Group Meets In Athens Amid Tight Security (http://www.nasdaq.com/aspx/stock-market-news-story.aspx?storyid=200905140722dowjonesdjonline000 365&title=bilderberg-group-meets-in-athens-amid-tight-security)

ATHENS (AFP)-- Some of the world's top business and political leaders started annual secret talks with the Bilderberg group Thursday in a suburb of Athens, under tight security control.

The surroundings of the Astir Palace, a luxury hotel in the suburban resort of Vouliagmeni, where the group is holding its annual meeting, were protected by dozens of policemen, who were keeping the press and public at bay, an AFP journalist said.

A Greek navy launch and boats carrying elite divers could be seen a few meters off the coast of the peninsula where the hotel stands. Greek newspapers said the group had also asked for the protection of two F-16 warplanes and a police helicopter.

Reports say U.S. State Department number two James Steinberg, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso, Queen Sofia of Spain and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands are among those attending the Bilderberg meeting.

The group, which has been holding annual off-the record talks open to guests only since 1954, feeds conspiracy theories and speculation about its intentions, with critics accusing it of plotting world domination.

Several sources say Polish political adviser Joseph Retinger, former Belgian prime minister Paul van Zeeland and former Unilever chief executive Paul Rijkens organized the first meeting at the Hotel Bilderberg in the Netherlands to unite European and U.S. elites amid growing transatlantic tensions a half-century ago.

Its success spawned similar talks at posh hotels and palaces in Europe, the U.S. and Canada each year since.

05-18-2009, 01:23 PM

Woman cuffed for not holding escalator handrail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090515.wescalator16/BNStory/National/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20090515.wescalator16)

MONTREAL — Anyone who has ridden an escalator and bothered to pay attention has seen – and likely ignored – little signs suggesting riders hold the grimy handrail.

In Montreal's subway system, the friendly advice seems to have taken on the force of law, backed by a $100 fine.

Bela Kosoian, a 38-year-old mother of two, says when she didn't hold the handrail Wednesday she was cuffed, dragged into a small holding cell and fined.

“It was horrible, disgusting behaviour [by police],” said Ms. Kosoian, a 38-year-old student of international law. “I did nothing wrong. They should go find the guys who stole my tires off the balcony.”

Ms. Kosoian, who studies at the Université du Québec à Montreal, was riding an escalator down to catch a 5:30 p.m. subway from the suburb of Laval to an evening class downtown when she started rifling through her backpack looking for a fare.

Ms. Kosoian, who grew up in Georgia when it was still part of the Soviet Union, says she didn't catch the officer's instruction to hold the rail when he first approached.

When he told her again to hang on, she says she replied, “I don't have three hands.” Besides, she had been sick and feared catching a new bug.

That's when the officer demanded identification so he could write her ticket, she said.

Ms. Kosoian started arguing. The officers handcuffed her and threw her into a small holding cell. The officers searched her bag and gave her a $100 ticket for failing to hold the banister and another $320 ticket for obstruction.

The handcuffs bruised Ms. Kosoian's wrists and an officer's boot scraped skin off the top of her foot.

She intends to fight the tickets.

Société de transport de Montréal regulations say “it is forbidden for all persons to disobey a directive or a pictogram posted by the Société.”

At the top of the escalator in the Montmorency station, a small sign indeed shows a stick man holding a railing with the words, “Hold the handrail.”

Montreal's metro system is policed by transit inspectors and local police departments.

Isabelle Tremblay, a spokesperson for the STM, seemed relieved to establish late yesterday that Laval police stopped Ms. Kosoian.

“We were quite surprised to hear about this, we don't give fines for such things,” Ms. Tremblay said.

Laval police were unable to provide an explanation yesterday.

As Ms. Kosoian noted, Montreal's subway takes bicycles, strollers and babies but has few elevators, making banister-holding an unlikely juggling act for many.

Transit systems across Canada have struggled with innocent-sounding behaviour that can cause accidents.

A couple years ago, Toronto transit authorities removed signs urging escalator riders to stand on the right, walk on the left, because walking on escalators caused dozens of injuries. Walkers were not fined.

In the Vancouver region, officials will soon launch a campaign to discourage running, sliding down banisters and other risky behaviour.

“We do tend to tear our hair out sometimes at the ways people get hurt,” said Drew Snider, a spokesman for the regional transportation authority.

In Montreal, 16 students were injured in 2004 when an escalator suddenly stopped.

As for fears of catching another flu, a leading germ expert says you are more likely to fall down an escalator than catch illness from a handrail.

“No matter how dirty your hands become, all you have to do to avoid getting ill is wash your hands,” said Dr. Philip Tierno, the author of The Secret Life of Germs.

“Safety is first. If you break your head or break your neck, you don't have to worry about washing your hands.”

05-18-2009, 10:27 PM
Squad run by Dick Cheney assassinated Benazir: Hersh (http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/squad-run-by-dick-cheney-assassinated-benazir-hersh-959)

WASHINGTON, May 18: A special death squad assassinated Pakistans former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on the orders of former US vice-president Dick Cheney, claims an American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.

Mr Hersh, a Washington-based journalist who writes for the New Yorker magazine and other prominent media outlets, also claims that the former vice-president was running an “executive assassination ring” throughout the Bush years. The cell reported directly to Mr Cheney.

In an interview to an Arab television channel, Mr Hersh indicated that the same unit killed Ms Bhutto because in an interview with Al Jazeera TV on Nov 2, 2007, she had said she believed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was already dead. She said she believed Omar Saeed Sheikh, an Al Qaeda activist imprisoned in Pakistan for killing US journalist Daniel Pearl had murdered Bin Laden.

But the interviewer, veteran British journalist David Frost, deleted her claim from the interview, Mr Hersh said.

The controversial US journalist told Gulf News on May 12 he believed Ms Bhutto was assassinated because the US leadership did not want Bin Laden to be declared dead. The Bush administration wanted to keep Bin Laden alive to justify the presence of US army in Afghanistan to combat the Taliban, Mr Hersh said.

The Pulitzer prize-winning American journalist claimed that the unit also killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafique Al Hariri and the army chief of that country.

Mr Hariri and the Lebanese army chief were murdered for not safeguarding US interests and refusing to allow US to set up military bases in Lebanon. Ariel Sharon, the then prime minister of Israel, was also a key man in the plot, Mr Hersh said.

According to Mr Hersh, Lt-Gen Stanley McChrystal who was last week named the new commander in charge of US forces in Afghanistan, ran the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), an elite unit so clandestine that the Pentagon for years refused to acknowledge its existence.

Gen McChrystal, a West Point graduate and a Green Beret, is currently director of Staff at the Pentagon, the executive to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A media report noted that most of what Gen. McChrystal has done over a 33-year career remains classified, including service between 2003 and 2008 as commander of the JSOC.

On July 22, 2006, Human Rights Watch issued a report titled ‘No blood, no foul’ about American torture practices at three facilities in Iraq. One of them was Camp Nama, which was operated by JSOC, under the direction of then Major Gen. McChrystal.

Gen McChrystal was officially based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, but he was a frequent visitor to Camp Nama and other Special Forces bases in Iraq and Afghanistan where forces under his command were based.

An interrogator at Camp Nama known as Jeff described locking prisoners in shipping containers for 24 hours at a time in extreme heat; exposing them to extreme cold with periodic soaking in cold water; bombardment with bright lights and loud music; sleep deprivation; and severe beatings.

When he and other interrogators went to the colonel in charge and expressed concern that this kind of treatment was not legal, and that they might be investigated by the military’s Criminal Investigation Division or the International Committee of the Red Cross, the colonel told them he had “this directly from Gen McChrystal and the Pentagon that there’s no way that the Red Cross could get in”.

On March 11, Mr Hersh told a seminar at the University of Minnesota that the unit Mr Cheney headed was very deeply involved in extra-legal operations.

“It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently,” he explained. “They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office ... Congress has no oversight of it … It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on.”

Mr Hersh said: “Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us.”

Although Mr Cheney had ignored such allegations in the past, recently he began responding to these charges, making counter-allegations against the Obama administration.

Last week in particular, Mr Cheney appeared almost daily on popular talk shows and also delivered a formal address at the American Enterprise Institute on the importance of interrogation techniques widely considered to be torture. Once known for his reticence and low profile, Mr Cheney has now become his party’s most audible voice.

Media commentators, however, attribute his sudden exuberance to the fear that if he did not defend himself, he might be prosecuted for authorising torture.

“Mr Cheney knew, when he began his media assault, that the worst of the horrors inflicted upon detainees at his specific command are not yet widely known,” said one commentator. “If the real stuff comes into full public light, he feared the general outrage will be so furious and all-encompassing that the Obama administration will have no choice but to … seek prosecutions of those Bush-era officials who specifically demanded those barbaric acts be inflicted upon prisoners.”

One blogger wrote that Mr Cheney not only authorised water-boarding, putting prisoners in confined spaces, pushing them, slapping them, putting bugs on them or demeaning them and their religious faith.

He quoted former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as telling a congressional panel in July of 2004 that if pictures of such acts were “released to the public, obviously it’s going to make matters worse”.

Mr Hersh recently gave a speech to the American Civil Liberties Union making the charge that children were sodomised in front of women in the prison, and the Pentagon had tape of it.

05-19-2009, 12:14 PM
Saudi 'Killer Chip' Implant Would Track, Eliminate Undesirables (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,520331,00.html)

It could be the ultimate in political control — but it won't be patented in Germany.

German media outlets reported last week that a Saudi inventor's application to patent a "killer chip," as the Swiss tabloids put it, had been denied.

The basic model would consist of a tiny GPS transceiver placed in a capsule and inserted under a person's skin, so that authorities could track him easily.

Model B would have an extra function — a dose of cyanide to remotely kill the wearer without muss or fuss if authorities deemed he'd become a public threat.

The inventor said the chip could be used to track terrorists, criminals, fugitives, illegal immigrants, political dissidents, domestic servants and foreigners overstaying their visas.

"The invention will probably be found to violate paragraph two of the German Patent Law — which does not allow inventions that transgress public order or good morals," German Patent and Trademark Office spokeswoman Stephanie Krüger told the English-language German-news Web site The Local.

05-28-2009, 05:19 PM

Tony Blair believed God wanted him to go to war to fight evil, claims his mentor (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/5373525/Tony-Blair-believed-God-wanted-him-to-go-to-war-to-fight-evil-claims-his-mentor.html)

The former Prime Minister's faith is claimed to have influenced all his key policy decisions and to have given him an unshakeable conviction that he was right.

John Burton, Mr Blair's political agent in his Sedgefield constituency for 24 years, says that Labour's most successful ever leader – in terms of elections won – was driven by the belief that "good should triumph over evil".

"It's very simple to explain the idea of Blair the Warrior," he says. "It was part of Tony living out his faith."

Mr Blair has previously admitted that he was influenced by his Christian faith, but Mr Burton reveals for the first time the strength of his religious zeal.

Mr Burton makes the comments in a book he has written, and which is published this week, called "We Don't Do God".

In it he portrays a prime minister determined to follow a Christian agenda despite attempts to silence him from talking about his faith.

"While he was at Number 10, Tony was virtually gagged on the whole question of religion," says Mr Burton.

"Alastair [Campbell] was convinced it would get him into trouble with the voters.

"But Tony's Christian faith is part of him, down to his cotton socks. He believed strongly at the time, that intervention in Kosovo, Sierra Leone – Iraq too – was all part of the Christian battle; good should triumph over evil, making lives better."

Mr Burton, who was often described as Mr Blair's mentor, says that his religion gave him a "total belief in what's right and what's wrong", leading him to see the so-called War on Terror as "a moral cause".

"I truly believe that his Christianity affected his policy-making on just about everything from aid to Africa, education, poverty, world debt and intervening in other countries when he thought it was right to do it.

"The fervour was part of him and it comes back to it being Christian fervour that spurred him into action for better or worse."

Mr Burton says that inherent in Mr Blair's faith was the belief that people should be treated fairly: "He applied that same principle in everything he did – from establishing the Social Exclusion Unit to ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, and ridding Iraq of the evils of Saddam Hussein's rule."

The comments will add to the suspicions of Mr Blair's critics, who fear he saw the Iraq war in a similar light to former US President George W Bush, who used religious rhetoric in talking about the conflict, as well as the war in Afghanistan, describing them as "a crusade".

Last week, Donald Rumsfeld, the former US defence secretary, was accused of sending the Mr Bush memos during the Iraq war that featured quotes from the Bible alongside images of American soldiers.

Anti-war campaigners criticised remarks Mr Blair made in 2006, suggesting that the decision to go to war in Iraq would ultimately be judged by God.

Mr Blair was not worried by people questioning his decisions, Mr Burton says, but was "genuinely shocked if they questioned his morality because there was never a dividing line between his politics and Christianity".

Although key advisers such as Mr Campbell tried to stop him talking about his faith while prime minister – famously declaring "we don't go God" – Mr Burton says that he was nevertheless determined to fight secularism.

Mr Burton, who coauthored the book with Eileen McCabe, a journalist, said Mr Blair wanted to "buffet the secular society that dominated life in Britain" and thought it was "time to nudge it in the other direction".

Tony Blair complained in 2007 that he had been unable to talk about his faith while in office as he would have been perceived as "a nutter".

"It's difficult if you talk about religious faith in our political system," he said. "If you are in the American political system or others then you can talk about religious faith and people say 'yes, that's fair enough' and it is something they respond to quite naturally. You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you're a nutter."

Since leaving Downing Street, he has set up the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and given a number of interviews about his faith.

Last month, he challenged the attitudes of the Pope on homosexuality, and argued that it is time for him to "rethink" his views.

06-02-2009, 05:12 PM

Cheney admits: No link between Saddam, 9/11 (http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=96813&sectionid=3510203)

Former US Vice President says there was no Saddam Hussein involvement in 9/11 terrorist attacks but that the Iraqi dictator provided terrorists with a safe haven.

Dick Cheney, appearing at the National Press Club on Monday, said that the US intelligence trying to link Saddam with al-Qaeda on September 11 attacks proved to be baseless.

"I do not believe and have never seen any evidence to confirm that [Hussein] was involved in 9/11. We had that reporting for a while, [but] eventually it turned out not to be true," Cheney conceded, according to CNN.

Yet, the hawkish former leader insisted that Saddam was a terrorism sponsor and strongly defended Bush's decision to invade Iraq.

Saddam was "somebody who provided sanctuary and safe harbor and resources to terrorists. ... [It] is, without question, a fact."

"There was a relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq that stretched back 10 years. It's not something I made up. ... We know for a fact that Saddam Hussein was a sponsor -- a state sponsor -- of terror. It's not my judgment. That was the judgment of our [intelligence community] and State Department," he said.

US-led international forces invaded Iraq in 2003 to oust Saddam regime that Washington had claimed was equipped with Weapons of Mass Destruction.

But the US-led coalition body in Iraq, tasked with finding the country's alleged WMDs could find no such weapons.

06-03-2009, 12:13 AM
The saga continues.......

06-14-2009, 06:34 PM
Man 'cooked' to death in Australian prison van (http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.edced6444cf2cfa7b252bd6dbdc8fd0 9.201&show_article=1)

The family of an Australian Aboriginal elder who died after being "cooked" in the back of a prison van on a scorching hot day is considering suing, they said.

A coroner Friday dismissed treatment of the 46-year-old man as inhumane and a "disgrace," saying he would ask prosecutors to consider criminal charges over his death from heatstroke in Western Australia in January 2008.

The elder, known only as Mr Ward as his first name was withheld for cultural reasons, was transported 360 kilometres (225 miles) to jail in temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius (122 F) in a van with faulty air conditioning.

Ward, who was arrested a day earlier for drink driving, spent four hours in the searing heat between the mining towns of Laverton and Kalgoorlie, suffering third-degree burns where his body touched the metal floor, the inquest heard.

Western Australia Coroner Alastair Hope found that Ward was effectively "cooked" to death and heavily criticised the state prisons department, the private security firm that operated the van and the two guards who escorted Ward.

"It is a disgrace that a prisoner in the 21st century, particularly a prisoner who has not been convicted of any crime, was transported for a long distance in high temperatures in this pod," Hope said.

The hearing was told that when Ward eventually arrived unconscious at hospital in Kalgoorlie, his body was so hot that staff were unable to cool him down. After an ice bath, which failed to save him, he had a body temperature of 41.7 degrees Celsius as opposed to a normal temperature of 37 degrees Celsius.

Ward's cousin, Daisy Ward, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Saturday the family was considering filing a civil lawsuit against GSL, which ran the prison van fleet, for breaching its duty of care.

"The community wants to see that they are punished... for what they have done, for what they have not done," she said.

The transport company offered to travel to Ward's home town of Warburton to apologise to the family, but the family has declined the offer.

"We all said that it was too late and that... they could have come forward to us and apologised to us earlier on," Daisy Ward said.

06-26-2009, 04:53 AM

'If I didn't confess to 7/7 bombings MI5 officers would rape my wife,' claims torture victim (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1195484/If-I-didnt-confess-7-7-bombings-MI5-officers-rape-wife-claims-torture-victim.html?ITO=1490)

A British man spoke publicly for the first time yesterday to accuse MI5 officers of forcing him to confess to masterminding the July 7 bombings.

Jamil Rahman claims UK security officers were behind his arrest in 2005 in Bangladesh.

He says he was beaten repeatedly by local officials who also threatened to rape him and his wife.

Mr Rahman, who is suing the Home Office, said a pair of MI5 officers who attended his torture and interrogation would leave the room while he was beaten.

He claims when he told the pair he had been tortured they merely answered: 'They haven't done a very good job on you.'

Mr Rahman told the BBC: 'They were questioning me on the July 7 bombings, showing me pictures of the bombers.

'They showed me maps, terrains ... they asked me to draw things out and write names next to pictures.

'They threatened my family. They go to me, "In the UK, gas leaks happen, if your family house had a gas leak and everyone got burnt, there's no problems, we can do that easily".'

He says he eventually made a false confession of involvement in the July 7 bomb plots.

The extraordinary allegations will add to pressure on UK ministers to come clean over the way Britain's intelligence agencies have been allowed to gather evidence around the world in the eight years since the September 11 attacks.

Jamil Rahman, a former civil servant from south Wales, is a British citizen who moved to Bangladesh in 2005 and married a woman he met there. He returned to the UK last year.

He said: 'It was all to do with the British. Even the Bengali intelligence officer told me that they didn't know anything about me, that they were only doing this for the British.'

Mr Rahman, 31, says he was released after three weeks but re-arrested and mistreated repeatedly over the next two years.

He described how two men he believes were British agents would leave the room for 'a break' while he was beaten.

They often asked: 'We're not torturing you, are we?' and recorded his confirmations that they were not, he alleges.

'The first time they tried to be friendly, they came in trying to show they were my friends, calm and relaxed, nothing wrong.

'I tried to demonstrate my innocence. I thought this is wrong, because they were British I might get some justice.'

He added: 'They showed me hundreds of pictures. Black, white, Chinese, bearded non-bearded, woman, man, young and old. Every time, they came for a new session, same pictures with new ones.

'The main thing they wanted me to be is a witness against another British man in Bangladesh. They pressured me so much to be a witness against this guy in court.

Mr Rahman denies being a terrorist, although he admits attending meetings in Britain of the radical Islamist group al-Muhajiroun - claiming he later rejected their extremist ideology.

A Home Office spokesman said: 'We firmly reject any suggestion that we torture people or ask others to do so on our behalf.
'Mr Rahman has made a lot of unsubstantiated allegations. They have not been evidenced in any court of law.'

Jamil Rahman is one of a number of former detainees who accuse the British Government colluded in their torture abroad.

His account echoes that of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, who said he was tortured in Pakistan and Morocco with MI5's knowledge.

The 30-year-old Ethiopian says he was beaten and deprived of sleep to try to make him confess to an Al Qaeda 'dirty bomb' plot, and his treatment is now the subject of an unprecedented police investigation into MI5's conduct.

06-28-2009, 05:37 AM

U.S. eugenics legacy: Ruling on Buck sterilization still stands (http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-06-23-eugenics-carrie-buck_N.htm)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Paul Lombardo hadn't planned on a three-decade detour when he stopped at a greasy-spoon restaurant for breakfast in February 1980. Lombardo, then a graduate student at the University of Virginia, picked up a newspaper to read as he ate his bacon and eggs.

And the rest is history, literally and figuratively. For almost 30 years, Lombardo has tried to uncover the full story of the wrongs he read about that day.

The article he had stumbled across was about two sisters sterilized in the 1920s by the state of Virginia for being "feeble-minded." The younger sister hadn't even known she'd had a tubal ligation. She didn't learn until she was in her late 60s that the surgery hadn't been for appendicitis. The older, more famous sister — Carrie Buck — was the subject of the now infamous lawsuit over the legality of the operation, Buck v. Bell, that was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

He read that although Carrie Buck was the first victim of a 1924 sterilization law, 8,300 Virginians had involuntary sterilization until the practice was stopped in the 1970s. The law itself was repealed in 1974. "It was startling," says Lombardo, 59, now a legal historian at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

He had not known of eugenics — the "science" of human improvement through controlled breeding — as more than a vague concept. Learning that there had been many eugenics programs in the United States in the 20th century and that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in favor of Buck's sterilization amazed him.

"Three generations of imbeciles are enough," Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote in the 1927 ruling. Lombardo says: "This woman got railroaded. And one of the giants of the Supreme Court was driving the train."

In the years that followed, Lombardo's Ph.D. dissertation focused on the attorney who fought to have Buck sterilized. In 1985, he published more research in the New York University Law Review, saying that key "facts" of the Buck case were simply not true and that Buck never received any real legal representation.

He has written journal articles and made many speeches on the subject, finding himself returning to the details of the story again and again. The case was "part of my intellectual life for so long that in some senses it was my … 'hobby' is not the right word," Lombardo says. " 'Obsession' would probably be closer."

Last fall, his book Three Generations, No Imbeciles was published. In February, he traveled to Rome to speak on the dangers of eugenics at a Vatican conference. He is working on a book titled 100 Years of Eugenics: From the Indiana Experiment to the Human Genome Project.

Lombardo has no plans to abandon his fight to publicize the terrible history of eugenics. With genetics playing an increasingly important role in science, Lombardo and other bioethicists fear the lessons of the eugenics debacle matter more than ever.

University of Maryland historian Steven Selden worries about how we will handle the ethical questions of possible genetic "improvements" to humanity. "We're going to revisit all the ethical conundrums that were inherent in the eugenics movement as we move forward."

The story of Carrie Buck

Buck was born and raised in Charlottesville, then became pregnant near her 17th birthday. Her foster parents had her institutionalized as a "feeble-minded moral delinquent," despite her claims that she had been assaulted by their nephew. When she gave birth, her child was given to her foster parents, who adopted her, and Buck was sent to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-minded in Lynchburg. Buck's mother had already been committed to the colony.

With three generations available for examination, colony superintendent Albert Priddy felt confident that he could prove the Buck women were defective. He sought to have Carrie Buck sterilized under Virginia's new law authorizing surgery on epileptics, the feeble-minded, imbeciles and the socially inadequate.

The case went to court, and as it worked its way through the legal system, Priddy died and John Bell took his place at the colony. By virtue of his new position, Bell became the official defendant in the case, known thereafter as Buck v. Bell.

Aubrey Strode, the legislator who had written the Virginia law, became the lawyer representing the colony in the fight to sterilize Buck. Strode and Buck's appointed attorney, Irving Whitehead, were childhood friends. Whitehead, a longtime supporter of sterilization, had been a founding director of the Virginia Colony.

Even for a small town half a century ago, the connections felt suspect to Lombardo. The whole process, from Buck's institutionalization to the Supreme Court decision that the state could legally sterilize her, seemed cruel and arbitrary to him. Buck was indeed sterilized after the high court's ruling and was later paroled from the colony.

In his research, Lombardo found report cards for Carrie and her daughter Vivian. Buck had been passed on each year with "very good" marks in deportment and lessons. Vivian had made the honor roll. There was nothing to suggest any mental deficiency in either of them.

The child died at age 8 from measles and an intestinal infection.

Buck. v. Bell has never been overturned.

The aftermath

Though he hadn't discovered Carrie Buck or eugenics before living in Charlottesville, Lombardo had inadvertently landed in the perfect place to study both. Bastions of eugenics lay farther north, in New York and Massachusetts, but Virginia and its university had their own deep ties to the movement, which aimed to improve the human race much as livestock is bred. Eugenic schemes included immigration restriction, laws against interracial marriage, and sterilization of those considered "defective."

In all, more than 30 states passed legislation supporting sterilization as part of a eugenic program. The official numbers of surgeries exceeded 65,000, and targeted groups included — as they did in Virginia — epileptics, the "feeble-minded," "imbeciles" and the "socially inadequate." Nazis on trial at Nuremberg after World War II cited the influence of American eugenics programs on their policies and mentioned Buck v. Bell in their testimony.

The passion for eugenics faded after the war as news of the Nazi atrocities came to light. But sterilization is still proposed from time to time as a remedy to a social problem.

In 2006, Virginia state Sen. Emmett Hanger, who would represent Buck if she were alive today, introduced a bill to offer castration to some sex offenders in exchange for release into the community after serving their sentences. His efforts to date have been unsuccessful.

Hanger calls Virginia's eugenics history "reprehensible" but says he does not fear that provisions for government-sanctioned sterilization will be misused.

"I have no concerns that there would be any return to the past," he says.

On Monday, North Carolina officials unveiled a historical marker in Raleigh that notes the sterilization of more than 7,600 people "by choice or coercion" in the name of eugenics.

Lifelong effects

Lombardo met Buck shortly before her death in 1983 at 76.

She was living in a residence for poor senior citizens in Waynesboro. Lombardo found her sitting frail and hunched in her wheelchair. He talked with her a bit, and then asked if it were true that she had been assaulted. She said yes. And then she confirmed that she had gone to school and been promoted through several grades. Lombardo asked about her sister, Doris Figgins, who had recently died. He didn't feel comfortable going much further.

"She was happy to have a visitor. It was clear, though, that she still felt the shame. What was done to her affected her in a bad way her whole life."

In 2002, the Virginia Legislature passed a resolution specifically recognizing the mistreatment of Carrie Buck. That year Lombardo paid more than $1,200 for the posting of a historical marker in front of a Charlottesville community center to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Buck v. Bell.

The infamous state Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-minded underwent several name and mission changes in the years after Carrie Buck was released. It is now called the Central Virginia Training Center and focuses on providing services to the mentally retarded.

But Lombardo is not optimistic that most Americans will remember Carrie Buck's story. Historian Selden hopes they do. "The moral issues do not go away," he says. "They get transformed. They change. But they come back to us again."

Carrie and Vivian are buried in Charlottesville's Oakwood Cemetery, Vivian next to her adoptive parents, who reported on her death certificate that they did not know the name of her birth mother.

06-30-2009, 01:18 AM

ID cards for India: 1.1 billion citizens will go into second largest citizens' database (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1195916/ID-cards-India-1-1billion-citizens-second-largest-citizens-database.html)

India is planning to provide its 1.1 billion-plus citizens with ID cards.

Entrepreneur, Nandan Nilekani has been chosen to lead the ambitious project which will be the second largest citizens' database in a democracy, with China being the biggest.

The government believes the scheme, which will be finalised over three years, will aid the delivery of vital social services to the poorest people who often lack sufficient identification papers.

It also sees the scheme as a way to tackle increasing amounts of identity fraud and theft and, at a time of increased concern over the threat of militant violence, to boost national security and help police and law officials.

Like Britain's £5billion ID cards plan, due to roll out in 2011/12, India's scheme is not without controversy.

Observers have raised questions including how the cards will actually improve the delivery of services and also concerns that the scheme could be disruptive.

In an interview in The Independent today associate fellow of the Asia programme at Chatham House, Charu Lata Hogg, said: 'It cannot be denied that the system of proving identity in India is complicated and confusing.

'But a system of national ID cards can technically introduce a new route to citizenship.

'This could be used as a security measure by the government which leaves migrant workers, refugees and other stateless people in India in limbo without access to public services, employment and basic welfare.'

07-01-2009, 07:59 PM

Rwanda denies sterilisation plans (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8128121.stm)

Rwanda has strongly denied reports that its parliament is considering a draft law which would forcibly sterilise people who are mentally disabled.

Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, deputy speaker of parliament, was responding to a call by US-based activists Human Rights Watch to scrap the proposed law.

He also told the BBC that plans for HIV testing before couples get married are strictly voluntary, not compulsory.

Mr Ntawukuriryayo said the lobby group should check before releasing reports.

He said he had never seen a bill or provision which proposed forcible sterilisation.

Earlier, HRW's Joe Amon had said: "Provisions in the current bill that increase stigma, rely on coercion and deny... reproductive rights should be removed."

Forced sterilisation is regarded as a crime against humanity by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Rwanda has successfully managed to lower the spread of Aids in recent years thanks to its HIV campaign, according to World Bank figures.

"While Rwanda has made notable progress in fighting stigma and responding to the Aids epidemic, and has pledged to advance the rights of persons with disability, forced sterilisation and mandatory HIV testing do not contribute to those goals," said Mr Amon, the health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch.

"These elements of the bill undermine reproductive health goals and undo decades of work to ensure respect for reproductive rights."

07-15-2009, 06:14 AM
Professional Perspectives: Fluoride in Tap Water (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ys9q1cvKGk)

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07-15-2009, 10:02 PM

Countries plan for mass vaccinations against swine flu (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/18/20090714/twl-countries-plan-for-mass-vaccinations-4bdc673.html)

The "unstoppable" swine flu pandemic Tuesday raised fears of millions of cases by next year and countries talked about mass vaccinations, while South America sought a united front to combat the disease.

Italy predicted it may have dealt with between three and four million cases of swine flu by March 2010, the country's deputy health minister Ferruccio Fazio said Tuesday.

He added that by the end of this year some 8.6 million Italians would have been vaccinated against the A(H1N1) virus, with the most vulnerable and those working in the emergency services given priority.

His comments came a day after the World Health Organisation said all countries were going to need vaccines against the virus because the swine flu pandemic was now unstoppable.

Italy with a total of 224 infections so far has not reported any deaths. Elsewhere in Europe Tuesday Croatia reported three new swine flu infections while Turkey said the number of swine flu cases has more than doubled in less than two weeks, reaching 95.

Talk of mass vaccination campaigns was reported around the globe with Germany saying it envisioned having to order some 25 million doses of a vaccine now under development to immunise nearly a third of its population.

Australia, the Asia-Pacific region's worst-hit country, was bracing to immunise the entire population against swine flu and has already placed an advance order for 21 million courses of a vaccine.

Federal chief medical officer Jim Bishop, expressing hope that the government could launch a nationwide immunisation drive by October, warned that the "hard-edged" virus was now infecting young and healthy people.

Six people younger than 40 who had otherwise been healthy remained on life support in Sydney after swine flu severely damaged their lungs, officials said.

Australia is already in the southern hemisphere winter, and officials fear the consequences if swine flu mutates into something deadlier in combination with the regular strain of influenza.

With the global death toll from A(H1N1) now reaching at least 429, WHO director of vaccine research Marie-Paul Kieny said Monday that a swine flu vaccine should be available as early as September.

At the same time, WHO chief Margaret Chan Tuesday warned that poverty will prevent some countries from gaining access to swine flu vaccines, as she criticised a bias in favour of richer nations.

"Manufacturing capacity for influenza vaccines is finite and woefully inadequate for a world of 6.8 billion people, nearly all of whom are susceptible to infection by this entirely new and highly contagious virus," she told delegates attending a World Intellectual Property Organisation conference in Geneva.

"The lion's share of these limited supplies will go to wealthy countries. Again we see the advantage of affluence. Again we see access denied by an inability to pay," she said.

In South America, health ministers from six countries will meet Wednesday to seek a coordinated response to fighting the epidemic, which Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has called "the worst in 50 years".

Argentina, which alone has reported at least 94 flu-related deaths, will host the meeting of ministers from Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Elsewhere on the continent, now in its winter season, Ecuador reported Tuesday the disease has spread to 14 of the country's 24 provinces, with the total number of infections at 264 with three deaths.

And in Peru, some 15,000 doctors have called for a nationwide protest on Wednesday to demand better prevention against swine flu, which has claimed at least five lives and infected around 2,000 people so far in that country.

"We demand addressing adequately the needs of hospitals in order to prevent further mistakes in the treatment of swine flu and to avoid more deaths," Leoncio Diaz, president of the Peruvian Medical Federation (FMP), told AFP.

An infant boy died in a Madrid hospital due to a medical error after his mother died from swine flu. She was Spain's first fatality from the disease.

Morocco's king announced Tuesday he will charter a plane to repatriate the remains as well as family members.

07-21-2009, 10:46 AM

The school with 100 spy cameras: 'Big Brother' system watches pupils everywhere (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1201045/The-school-100-spy-cameras-Big-Brother-watches-pupils-everywhere.html)

A school has installed nearly 100 security cameras to monitor classrooms, corridors and play areas, it emerged yesterday.

The £60,000-a-year surveillance system at Stockwell Park High is believed to be the most extensive in a school.
Cameras also film lessons to help staff improve their technique and may be used to expose poor teaching.

The comprehensive intends to kit out every classroom with the technology because staff say it helps tackle truancy, indiscipline and false allegations against them.

Teachers' leaders last night warned against using the 'Big Brotherish' system.

Almost 100 schools have introduced similar in- class cameras while a quarter use some kind of CCTV, mainly for security reasons. But the average number of classrooms fitted with the technology is five, while Stockwell Park High, in South London, has two cameras in 28 classrooms - 56 in total.
In addition there are 40 cameras in corridors, stairwells and outdoor areas.

The school began by training CCTV cameras on its perimeter fences to deter intruders and then put them in classrooms to prevent damage to costly whiteboards.

Now it is taking advantage of major renovation work to install the hi-tech Classwatch system - which promises digital sound and images ' admissible in a court of law'.

The 985-pupil school, which serves disadvantaged areas, was rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted in 2006 with pupil behaviour described as 'good' and attendance 'satisfactory and improving'. It said the cameras were intended to help deal with 'rare' incidents and act as a deterrent to misbehaviour rather than tackle a particular problem.

However the use of cameras to identify and punish children who disrupt lessons and indulge in classroom pranks is not without controversy.

One primary school was criticised for using surveillance equipment to identify an eight-year-old girl who hid her friend's shoes.

Stockwell Park headmistress Judette Tapper said: 'We are very mindful of students' and parents' sensitivities.

'The system gives teachers a real sense of security and reassurance in the case of the rare disciplinary incidents in which a student disputes the teacher's account of events. It also helps to combat bullying and aggressive behaviour.

'We are finding the system is a useful tool in investigating and discouraging truancy.' Footage is stored for one month then destroyed. Access is strictly controlled and monitored by a member of the school's board of governors.

But Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: 'This all sounds very Big Brotherish.

'Schools should not have to resort to technology to fight bullying and bad behaviour. 'CCTV can be useful to monitor outside areas and may help cut down on vandalism, but we have grave concerns about using it as panacea for all the problems a school faces.'

Pupil Daniel Bryan said: 'Cameras can be useful but they are an invasion of your privacy and sometimes they make me feel uncomfortable.'

07-26-2009, 02:21 PM

US buys 195 million doses of swine flu vaccine (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=101460&sectionid=3510203)

US federal officials say the country has purchased 195 million doses of swine flu vaccine for its possible autumn vaccination campaign.

According to Reuters, the US A/H1N1 vaccine market is supplied by AstraZeneca's MedImmune unit, Australia's CSL Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Novartis AG and Sanofi-Aventis SA.

Swine flu -- which originated in Mexico in April 2009 -- has so far claimed 700 lives worldwide and the World Health Organization (WHO) on June 11, 2009 lifted its pandemic alert level from phase 5 to 6, signaling the rapid spread of the virus around the globe.

According to Dr. Robin Robinson of the US Health and Human Services Department, a contract has also been made to get 120 million doses of adjuvant, a compound that increases the number of doses of vaccine needed.

Talking at a meeting of Food and Drug Administration advisers, Robinson added that the decision was part of a HHS plan for a possible influenza pandemic.

"We thought manufacturers would probably get a low or poor yield. That has been borne out," he said.

He added that it would take until March 2010 to vaccinate all the country's 300 million people with two doses each.

The vaccine-making companies are expected to inform the FDA committee later Thursday about their findings obtained during their work with the deadly virus.

The WHO and US health officials have announced that they will vaccinate people against A/H1N1, alongside regular seasonal flu, in October.

While the FDA has to approve the vaccine, US officials said earlier on Thursday that they would like to accelerate the process.

07-26-2009, 03:05 PM

:lol::lol::lol:Would you trust this face?

07-29-2009, 01:09 PM
:lol::lol::lol:Would you trust this face?

I sure wouldn't. Haha

07-29-2009, 01:09 PM
Gardasil Causes 400 Percent More Deaths than Other Common Vaccine (http://www.naturalnews.com/026722_Gardasil_HPV_cervical_cancer.html)

(NaturalNews) A federal report has concluded that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil has a 400 percent higher rate of adverse effects than another comparable vaccine, the Menactra anti-meningitis shot.

"It is unusual for there to be such a big discrepancy between two vaccines used in similar populations involving serious and relatively rare life threatening adverse events and autoimmune disorders," the researchers from the federal Vaccine Events Reporting System wrote.

Gardasil, marketed by Merck, prevents againt the strains of HPV believed to be responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancer cases and 90 percent of genital warts cases. GlaxoSmithKline's competing Cervarix vaccine protects against the same cervical cancer-causing strains.

The researchers considered Gardasil and Menactra equivalent for the purposes of comparison because they are given to similar age groups at similar frequencies. Their study concluded that Gardasil was associated with twice as many emergency room visits, four times as many deaths, four times as many heart attacks, seven times as many "disabled" reports and 15 times as many strokes. All reported cases of blood clots and heart attacks associated with Gardasil occurred when the vaccine was given alone, not in conjunction with other drugs.

"Fainting, which has been attributed by doctors and health officials as 'fear' of needles in teenage girls, is reported six times as often ... after receipt of Gardasil than Menactra even though Menactra is also given to girls in the same age group," the researchers noted.

The report recommends that the government more thoroughly investigate reports of dangerous side effects from the HPV vaccine, that research be conducted into mechanisms by which the vaccine might cause these effects, and that patients and parents be more adequately warned of the risks before vaccination. It also recommends that Congress investigate how the vaccine was fast-tracked for approval in the absence of safety data on girls younger than 17.

07-31-2009, 01:41 PM
Greece to vaccinate all population for flu (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2009-07/31/content_8501662.htm)

ATHENS: Greece will vaccinate its entire population of 12 million against the H1N1 swine flu pandemic which has swept around the world in weeks, killing hundreds of people, the country's health minister said on Friday.

The Mediterranean country, which receives about 15 million tourists every year, has confirmed more than 700 swine flu cases and no deaths, but world health experts say the true number of cases globally is far higher as only a few patients get tested.

"We decided that the entire population, all citizens and residents, without any exception, will be vaccinated against the flu," Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said after a ministerial meeting.

Greece has already earmarked 40 million euros for vaccines and has placed orders with Novartis, Glaxo and Sanofi for 8 million vaccine doses, to be received gradually by January.
Vaccine experts say people will likely need two doses of vaccine to be protected from H1N1 swine flu, so Greece would need a total of 24 million doses to vaccinate its entire population. Other countries are taking similar steps.

"Greece will order 16 million more doses from the same companies in the future," a health ministry official who declined to be named told Reuters. "We are only waiting for the European Union's approval to start vaccinating everyone."

The European Medicines Agency has begun reviewing pandemic flu vaccines under development, aiming to get them approved before the flu season starts, sometime in September.

The health ministry official said children, the elderly and ailing would be the first to be vaccinated.

About 800 people have died worldwide since the outbreak of the flu in April.

08-15-2009, 03:17 PM
Parents are worried about the swine flu vaccine (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/swine-flu/6029856/Parents-are-worried-about-the-swine-flu-vaccine.html)

Parents talking on the internet forums have expressed some concern about the H1N1 vaccine that will be offered to children and adults with underlying health conditions and pregnant women as priorities.

Fears raised include its safety for pregnant women, whether the vaccine has been tested enough and the fact one of them contains a controversial mercury preservative.

One mum posted: "Absolutely no way would I allow my son to be vaccinated, he's not a guinea pig."

Another said: "This strain seems to be mild but they are predicting that the second strain will be alot worse especially with it being flu season. Plus if it mutates we could be in serious trouble if we are not vaccinated."

Justine Roberts, Co-founder of mumsnet.com said: "Lots of mums on Mumsnet are questioning whether giving the swine flu vaccine to their children is a good idea. Some are worried about how well it's been tested, others about it's effectiveness and side effects."

The GlaxoSmithKline vaccine contains thiomersal which was linked to neurological disorders and autism in the 1990s but has since been extensive tested and no evidence of harm has been found.

Its use was phased out of most vaccines, however it is being used in the GSK vaccine to make it last longer and avoid wastage.

Prof David Salisbury, head of immunisation at the Department of Health, said the vaccines will arrive in vials containing about ten doses as it is not feasible to produce or store single-dose preloaded syringes on the scale needed to vaccine the 11m people who will be offered the vaccine between October and December.

He said, if only one or two doses in a vial are used on one day the GSK vaccine can be stored overnight in the fridge and the remaining doses used the next day. However the Baxter vaccine, which does not contain thiomersal, would have to be thrown away if the whole vial's contents were not used within three hours, he added.

Pregnant women on the forums had mixed views with some saying they are eager to be vaccinated against swine flu while others were circumspect.

Prof Salisbury said the vaccine will be offered to pregnant women who are at greater risk of complications if they contract flu, data from Britain and America has shown.

The European Medicines Agency will decide on whether the vaccine is offered to women at all stages of pregnancy or only in the second or third trimester when the risks of swine flu to both mother and baby are higher.

Prof Salisbury said concerns about vaccines during pregnancy are based on theorectical risks that a live virus vaccine could affect the feotus but extensive tested with the rubella vaccine had not found any evidence of this. He added that the H1N1 vaccines are not live anyway but contain an inactivated version of swine flu.

He said: "We are taking a sensible approach to vaccinate people who are at greatest risk from swine flu first. For people with risk factors the flu may not be mild at all."

He said the products are based on pre-pandemic vaccines using the H5N1 bird flu virus, which have been extensively trialled. The manufacturers have then switched the flu H5N1 flu strain for the current H1N1 swine flu change, in the same way as the seasonal flu vaccines are altered each year to match the current circulating strain.

In addition to this new trials are now beginning using the H1N1 vaccines covering all age groups.

A spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline said: "The World Health Organisation has recommended that for vaccines which come in multidose vials, manufacturers use a preservative to enable doctors to withdraw several doses from the same vial.

"There have been many studies conducted over decades of research which suggest that thiomersal has a good safety profile and is well tolerated. It is essential that a preservative is used in vaccines such as this to avoid wastage."

He said there was no alternative to thiomersal as a preservative for vaccines of this kind.

08-16-2009, 01:01 AM
Swine flu jab link to killer nerve disease: Leaked letter reveals concern of neurologists over 25 deaths in America

A warning that the new swine flu jab is linked to a deadly nerve disease has been sent by the Government to senior neurologists in a confidential letter.

The letter from the Health Protection Agency, the official body that oversees public health, has been leaked to The Mail on Sunday, leading to demands to know why the information has not been given to the public before the vaccination of millions of people, including children, begins.

It tells the neurologists that they must be alert for an increase in a brain disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which could be triggered by the vaccine.

GBS attacks the lining of the nerves, causing paralysis and inability to breathe, and can be fatal.

The letter, sent to about 600 neurologists on July 29, is the first sign that there is concern at the highest levels that the vaccine itself could cause serious complications.

It refers to the use of a similar swine flu vaccine in the United States in 1976 when:

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1206807/Swine-flu-jab-link-killer-nerve-disease-Leaked-letter-reveals-concern-neurologists-25-deaths-America.html#ixzz0OJpRqxPO

* More people died from the vaccination than from swine flu.
* 500 cases of GBS were detected.
* The vaccine may have increased the risk of contracting GBS by eight times.
* The vaccine was withdrawn after just ten weeks when the link with GBS became clear.
* The US Government was forced to pay out millions of dollars to those affected.

Concerns have already been raised that the new vaccine has not been sufficiently tested and that the effects, especially on children, are unknown.

It is being developed by pharmaceutical companies and will be given to about 13million people during the first wave of immunisation, expected to start in October.

Top priority will be given to everyone aged six months to 65 with an underlying health problem, pregnant women and health professionals.

The British Neurological Surveillance Unit (BNSU), part of the British Association of Neurologists, has been asked to monitor closely any cases of GBS as the vaccine is rolled out.

One senior neurologist said last night: ‘I would not have the swine flu jab because of the GBS risk.’

There are concerns that there could be a repeat of what became known as the ‘1976 debacle’ in the US, where a swine flu vaccine killed 25 people – more than the virus itself.

A mass vaccination was given the go-ahead by President Gerald Ford because scientists believed that the swine flu strain was similar to the one responsible for the 1918-19 pandemic, which killed half a million Americans and 20million people worldwide.

Read more:

08-18-2009, 09:49 PM
DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/science/18dna.html?_r=2)

Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases.

The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person.

“You can just engineer a crime scene,” said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. “Any biology undergraduate could perform this.”

Dr. Frumkin is a founder of Nucleix, a company based in Tel Aviv that has developed a test to distinguish real DNA samples from fake ones that it hopes to sell to forensics laboratories.

The planting of fabricated DNA evidence at a crime scene is only one implication of the findings. A potential invasion of personal privacy is another.

Using some of the same techniques, it may be possible to scavenge anyone’s DNA from a discarded drinking cup or cigarette butt and turn it into a saliva sample that could be submitted to a genetic testing company that measures ancestry or the risk of getting various diseases. Celebrities might have to fear “genetic paparazzi,” said Gail H. Javitt of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Tania Simoncelli, science adviser to the American Civil Liberties Union, said the findings were worrisome.

“DNA is a lot easier to plant at a crime scene than fingerprints,” she said. “We’re creating a criminal justice system that is increasingly relying on this technology.”

John M. Butler, leader of the human identity testing project at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, said he was “impressed at how well they were able to fabricate the fake DNA profiles.” However, he added, “I think your average criminal wouldn’t be able to do something like that.”

The scientists fabricated DNA samples two ways. One required a real, if tiny, DNA sample, perhaps from a strand of hair or drinking cup. They amplified the tiny sample into a large quantity of DNA using a standard technique called whole genome amplification.

Of course, a drinking cup or piece of hair might itself be left at a crime scene to frame someone, but blood or saliva may be more believable.

The authors of the paper took blood from a woman and centrifuged it to remove the white cells, which contain DNA. To the remaining red cells they added DNA that had been amplified from a man’s hair.

Since red cells do not contain DNA, all of the genetic material in the blood sample was from the man. The authors sent it to a leading American forensics laboratory, which analyzed it as if it were a normal sample of a man’s blood.

The other technique relied on DNA profiles, stored in law enforcement databases as a series of numbers and letters corresponding to variations at 13 spots in a person’s genome.

From a pooled sample of many people’s DNA, the scientists cloned tiny DNA snippets representing the common variants at each spot, creating a library of such snippets. To prepare a DNA sample matching any profile, they just mixed the proper snippets together. They said that a library of 425 different DNA snippets would be enough to cover every conceivable profile.

Nucleix’s test to tell if a sample has been fabricated relies on the fact that amplified DNA — which would be used in either deception — is not methylated, meaning it lacks certain molecules that are attached to the DNA at specific points, usually to inactivate genes.

08-22-2009, 12:22 PM

Does virus vaccine increase the risk of cancer? (http://www.bild.de/BILD/news/bild-english/world-news/2009/08/07/swine-flu-health-expert-warning/does-virus-vaccine-increase-risk-of-cancer.html)

The swine flu vaccine has been hit by new cancer fears after a German health expert gave a shock warning about its safety.

Lung specialist Wolfgang Wodarg has said that there are many risks associated with the vaccine for the H1N1 virus.

He has grave reservations about the firm Novartis who are developing the vaccine and testing it in Germany. The vaccination is injected “with a very hot needle”, Wodarg said.

The nutrient solution for the vaccine consists of cancerous cells from animals and "we do not know if there could be an allergic reaction".

But more importantly, some people fear that the risk of cancer could be increased by injecting the cells.

The vaccine - as Johannes Löwer, president of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, has pointed out - can also cause worse side effects than the actual swine flu virus.

Wodrag also described people’s fear of the pandemic as an "orchestration": “It is great business for the pharmaceutical industry,” he told the ‘Neuen Presse’.

Swine flu is not very different from normal flu. “On the contrary if you look at the number of cases it is nothing compared to a normal flu outbreak,” he added.

The chairman of the health committee in the European Council has urged for a careful and calm reaction to the virus.

Up until now, the producers of the vaccine did not know how many orders they would have by the autumn, but the German Government is now a guaranteed customer.

Even the pharmaceutical companies are trying to exploit the fear of the swine flu pandemic.

08-22-2009, 12:39 PM
Swedish daily: IDF killed Palestinians for organs (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3763958,00.html)

Leading Swedish daily Aftonbladet claimed in one of its articles that IDF soldiers killed Palestinians in order to trade in their organs.

On Tuesday the Israeli Foreign Ministry responded by saying that the article "is a shocking example of Israel's demonization." According to the ministry, the Stockholm-based paper accused the Israeli army of organ theft.

The report mentioned Brooklyn resident Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, who is accused of involvement in the recent human organ-trafficking case that caused a storm in the US and Israel. The report said Palestinians claim youngsters were forced to give up theirs before being executed. This suspicion, the report said, may lead to an international war crimes investigation against Israel.

The report went on to say that about half of all kidneys used in transplants in Israel since 2000 were purchased illegally in Turkey, Eastern Europe and Latin America, adding that the Israeli Health Ministry was aware of the phenomenon but did nothing to curb it.

Aftonbladet also said Palestinian youths who were snatched from their villages in the middle of the night were buried after being dismembered. The reporter, Donald Boström, said he was informed of the alleged atrocities by UN employees while he was working on a book in the West Bank.

According to Bostrom, a Palestinian from Nablus who for a number of years headed stone-throwing attacks against IDF soldiers was shot to death in May because he interfered with the activity of the "Israeli conquering forces."

The reporter quoted Palestinian witnesses as saying that Bilal Ahmad Ranian was shot in the chest, leg and stomach and then evacuated in serious condition by helicopter to an unknown location.

Five days later, Bostrom said, Ranian's body was returned to his village, wrapped in hospital bandages.

Aftonbladet published a photo of the body, which had a scar running from the face down to the stomach.

In his article Bostrom quoted a number of Palestinians as saying that their children were killed by IDF soldiers for their organs.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in response, "We call on every Swedish citizen who holds democracy dear to reject these inflammatory (accusations)."

08-24-2009, 09:34 PM

Poor shouldn't marry, says Japan PM (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/08/25/2665699.htm)

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has again made a major verbal gaffe, just days before the general election.

"If you don't have money, you'd better not get married," Mr Aso said at a meeting with students on Sunday, according to Japanese media.

"It seems rather difficult to me for someone without means to win people's respect."

Mr Aso made the comments after being asked whether a lack of funds made it difficult for young people to start a family.

The Japanese leader has a history of putting his foot in it, accusing doctors of lacking common sense and saying that elderly people have no talent other than working.

His latest remark was seen as too blunt at a time when Japan's youth faces difficulty in finding steady jobs amid the economic downturn.

Opposition leaders erupted in a chorus of disapproval.

Katsuya Okada, secretary-general of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, slammed Mr Aso for "failing to understand the reality ... nobody accepts low income out of choice".

Social democratic party chief Mizuho Fukushima called Mr Aso "too insensitive and too short of awareness about human rights".

"The expression was rather direct," Mr Aso's right-hand man, chief cabinet secretary Takeo Kawamura, admitted at a daily press briefing.

"But I think it reflected his feelings that he must go ahead with measures concerning young people's employment."

Every opinion poll in Japan suggests the Prime Minister and his ruling party are careering towards a crushing defeat in this weekend's election.

08-27-2009, 10:40 PM

UK police 'steal' from cars for your own good (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=104588&sectionid=351020601)

Police in the UK capital of London have started taking valuable items from unlocked cars in a bid to help motorists discourage theft.

The new measure allows police officers to sneak into unlocked parked vehicles and take away objects of value left incautiously in the cars, British media quoted a new Scotland Yard statement as saying.

Car owners in the Richmond upon Thames area of South-West London, where the measure has been introduced, have found their valuables including handbags, laptops and satellite navigation devices gone missing after returning to their automobiles.

Indiscreet motorists would see notes on their cars, warning them to 'remove the property for safekeeping' before the police exercises the 'tough love' policy in order to stem theft from cars, which has shown a 40-percent rise in the region over the past several months.

"The message to car owners is: 'Help us to help you,'" AP quoted Richmond Police Chief Inspector Duncan Slade as saying on Wednesday.

The latest stunt carried out by the British police has sparked controversy over possible damages that could be done to personal belongings in the course of the inspections and retrieval of the confiscated items.

However, the metropolitan's law enforcement branch insists that the bid would merely safeguard the repossession of properties abandoned in vehicles with open doors or windows.

08-29-2009, 10:23 AM
Bush's Search Policy For Travelers Is Kept (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/27/AR2009082704065_pf.html)

The Obama administration will largely preserve Bush-era procedures allowing the government to search -- without suspicion of wrongdoing -- the contents of a traveler's laptop computer, cellphone or other electronic device, although officials said new policies would expand oversight of such inspections.

The policy, disclosed Thursday in a pair of Department of Homeland Security directives, describes more fully than did the Bush administration the procedures by which travelers' laptops, iPods, cameras and other digital devices can be searched and seized when they cross a U.S. border. And it sets time limits for completing searches.

But representatives of civil liberties and travelers groups say they see little substantive difference between the Bush-era policy, which prompted controversy, and this one.

"It's a disappointing ratification of the suspicionless search policy put in place by the Bush administration," said Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. "It provides a lot of procedural safeguards, but it doesn't deal with the fundamental problem, which is that under the policy, government officials are free to search people's laptops and cellphones for any reason whatsoever."

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday framed the new policy as an enhancement of oversight. "Keeping Americans safe in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully screen materials entering the United States," she said in a statement. "The new directives announced today strike the balance between respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all travelers while ensuring DHS can take the lawful actions necessary to secure our borders."

For instance, searches conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers should now generally take no more than 5 days, and no more than 30 days for searches by Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents. The directives also require for the first time that automated tools be developed to ensure the reliable tracking of statistics relating to searches, and that audits be conducted periodically to ensure the guidelines are being followed, officials said.

Such measures drew praise from House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who called the new policy "a major step forward," and from Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), who introduced legislation this year to strengthen protections for travelers whose devices are searched.

But the civil liberties community was disappointed.

"Under the policy begun by Bush and now continued by Obama, the government can open your laptop and read your medical records, financial records, e-mails, work product and personal correspondence -- all without any suspicion of illegal activity," said Elizabeth Goitein, who leads the liberty and national security project at the nonprofit Brennan Center for Justice.

Goitein, formerly a counsel to Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), said the Bush policy itself "broke sharply" with previous Customs directives, which required reasonable suspicion before agents could read the contents of documents. Feingold last year introduced legislation to restore the requirement.

Jack Riepe, spokesman for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, said the guidelines "still have many of the inherent weaknesses" of the Bush-era policy.

Between October 2008 and Aug. 11, more than 221 million travelers passed through CBP checkpoints. About 1,000 laptop searches were performed, only 46 in-depth, the DHS said.

08-30-2009, 05:59 PM
Militarization of Swine Flu Preparations (http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/usnews/health-care/1658)

The increasing militarization of preparations for an outbreak of swine flu is proceeding rapidly and without very much public debate, despite the relatively mild nature of the disease so far and the fact that many experts believe the panic has been overblown.

Earlier this week, Republican Representative Paul Broun of Georgia warned a town hall meeting that a “socialistic elite” may be preparing to declare martial law in the United States using a pandemic disease as the pretext. “They’re trying to develop an environment where they can take over,” he told attendees according to an article in the Athens Banner-Herald. “We’ve seen that historically.”

In another alarming development this week, National Guard troops are involved in a drill to take over a high school in Maine to deal with potential riots and panic over distribution of treatment for the H1N1 virus, the Maine Sun Journal reported Thursday. “The National Guardsmen will take on the roles of panicked citizens and military police and practice what they would do, such as using tear gas, in the case of a riot,” said the newspaper article entitled “National Guard Drill at High School to Prepare for Possible H1N1 Riot.” The story also noted that local law enforcement would be involved.

This is all despite the fact that the Maine Center for Disease Control has reported just one death tied to the swine flu, and the man actually died from “underlying conditions complicated by H1N1,” according to Dr. Dora Mills, the center’s director.

“This is just a component of moving the stuff from point A to B,” assured the director of Oxford County’s emergency management agency, Scott Parker. He told the Sun Journal that the plan would only be put in place “if needed.”

Apparently concerns about panic and disorder were raised during a conference in April, so the governor and the adjutant General of the Maine National Guard decided to formulate a plan to bring in military police.

But if state military police preparations weren’t bad enough, the federal government now wants to usurp state forces for domestic use under the Pentagon’s command. Though at least the states are fighting back on this issue.

The National Governors Association wrote a letter to the Department of Defense last week criticizing the proposals to take control of their National Guard units for domestic disasters. “Strong potential exists for confusion in mission execution and the dilution of governors' control over situations with which they are more familiar and better capable of handling than a federal military commander," the letter stated.

But no matter who retains control of the National Guard troops preparing to deal with swine flu, the federal government’s increasingly militarized “emergency preparations” for the virus are developing quickly and mostly under the radar. Just last month CNN and Fox News reported online that the U.S. military was drawing up plans to deal with a spread of the swine flu. “The Pentagon is preparing to make troops available if necessary to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency tackle a potential outbreak of the H1N1 virus,” according to a July 29 Fox News article entitled "Military Poised to Help FEMA Battle Swine Flu Outbreak."

And as early as last year, reports also began to surface that federal troops were preparing for “homeland defense” missions and would be operating on American soil — in what would appear to be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of military forces in domestic law enforcement.

“They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control,” noted the Army Times in a 2008 article entitled "Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1." The soldiers will also be responsible for things like knowing how to set up road blocks and the use of “nonlethal” weapons normally reserved for war-zones to subdue Americans.

Additionally, the Obama administration has recently resurrected the heavily criticized Bush-era proposal to “update” quarantine regulations, while the U.S. Army advertises jobs for “internment/resettlement specialists” on its website.

The federal government’s health authorities operate quarantine centers from Anchorage to Miami, and in 2005 George W. Bush used an executive order to add flu that has the “potential” to create a pandemic to a list of quarantinable diseases. Will the military be used to enforce the quarantines? It is appearing increasingly possible, if it comes to that.

This is all happening at a time when countless experts are warning that fears about the swine-flu virus have been blown out of proportion. In many places the disease even seems to be dissipating. “We'll probably see something that won't be that bad,” said Ontario’s former chief medical officer, Dr. Richard Schabas. “We would not expect it to be as bad as the flu year was in 2003 with the Fujian strain.”

He noted that a pandemic would be expected to kill thousands just in Canada, but so far the swine flu has claimed 66 lives there. “You tell me how overblown that is.… Our preparations always have to be advised not just by the sense of possibilities, but by a sense of probabilities.”

England’s chief medical officer, Liam Donaldson, recently announced plans to scale back the National Pandemic Flu Service from about 1,600 call-center workers to less than 600 as the number of cases there continues to fall. He warned of the potential for a “second wave,” but so far the disease has been less deadly than even the regular seasonal flu.

Australian National University microbiologist Peter Collignon told ABC News the H1N1 virus was no worse than annual influenza strains. “My major concern about what's happening is the fear is out of proportion to what the data shows," he said, adding that the use of the word “pandemic” was creating unnecessary concern.

But here in the United States, the emergency preparations continue to expand along with the power of the federal government. There has already been discussion of forced vaccinations. And an inspection of so-called “executive orders” issued by past presidents and continuing under Obama reveals that the executive branch already claims sweeping “emergency” powers to deal with health concerns.

Unless Americans start demanding some transparency and accountability, the trend towards bigger and more aggressive government will likely continue. This time the excuse happens to be swine flu, but there will always be some “crisis” not to be “wasted,” as Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel put it.

The preparations currently under way to deal with swine flu are not only unconstitutional, they are probably more dangerous than the virus itself. It is time for Americans to take personal responsibility for their health and their government and to say enough is enough.

08-31-2009, 12:19 AM
Militarization of Swine Flu Preparations (http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/usnews/health-care/1658)

The increasing militarization of preparations for an outbreak of swine flu is proceeding rapidly and without very much public debate, despite the relatively mild nature of the disease so far and the fact that many experts believe the panic has been overblown.

Earlier this week, Republican Representative Paul Broun of Georgia warned a town hall meeting that a “socialistic elite” may be preparing to declare martial law in the United States using a pandemic disease as the pretext. “They’re trying to develop an environment where they can take over,” he told attendees according to an article in the Athens Banner-Herald. “We’ve seen that historically.”

In another alarming development this week, National Guard troops are involved in a drill to take over a high school in Maine to deal with potential riots and panic over distribution of treatment for the H1N1 virus, the Maine Sun Journal reported Thursday. “The National Guardsmen will take on the roles of panicked citizens and military police and practice what they would do, such as using tear gas, in the case of a riot,” said the newspaper article entitled “National Guard Drill at High School to Prepare for Possible H1N1 Riot.” The story also noted that local law enforcement would be involved.

This is all despite the fact that the Maine Center for Disease Control has reported just one death tied to the swine flu, and the man actually died from “underlying conditions complicated by H1N1,” according to Dr. Dora Mills, the center’s director.

“This is just a component of moving the stuff from point A to B,” assured the director of Oxford County’s emergency management agency, Scott Parker. He told the Sun Journal that the plan would only be put in place “if needed.”

Apparently concerns about panic and disorder were raised during a conference in April, so the governor and the adjutant General of the Maine National Guard decided to formulate a plan to bring in military police.

But if state military police preparations weren’t bad enough, the federal government now wants to usurp state forces for domestic use under the Pentagon’s command. Though at least the states are fighting back on this issue.

The National Governors Association wrote a letter to the Department of Defense last week criticizing the proposals to take control of their National Guard units for domestic disasters. “Strong potential exists for confusion in mission execution and the dilution of governors' control over situations with which they are more familiar and better capable of handling than a federal military commander," the letter stated.

But no matter who retains control of the National Guard troops preparing to deal with swine flu, the federal government’s increasingly militarized “emergency preparations” for the virus are developing quickly and mostly under the radar. Just last month CNN and Fox News reported online that the U.S. military was drawing up plans to deal with a spread of the swine flu. “The Pentagon is preparing to make troops available if necessary to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency tackle a potential outbreak of the H1N1 virus,” according to a July 29 Fox News article entitled "Military Poised to Help FEMA Battle Swine Flu Outbreak."

And as early as last year, reports also began to surface that federal troops were preparing for “homeland defense” missions and would be operating on American soil — in what would appear to be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of military forces in domestic law enforcement.

“They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control,” noted the Army Times in a 2008 article entitled "Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1." The soldiers will also be responsible for things like knowing how to set up road blocks and the use of “nonlethal” weapons normally reserved for war-zones to subdue Americans.

Additionally, the Obama administration has recently resurrected the heavily criticized Bush-era proposal to “update” quarantine regulations, while the U.S. Army advertises jobs for “internment/resettlement specialists” on its website.

The federal government’s health authorities operate quarantine centers from Anchorage to Miami, and in 2005 George W. Bush used an executive order to add flu that has the “potential” to create a pandemic to a list of quarantinable diseases. Will the military be used to enforce the quarantines? It is appearing increasingly possible, if it comes to that.

This is all happening at a time when countless experts are warning that fears about the swine-flu virus have been blown out of proportion. In many places the disease even seems to be dissipating. “We'll probably see something that won't be that bad,” said Ontario’s former chief medical officer, Dr. Richard Schabas. “We would not expect it to be as bad as the flu year was in 2003 with the Fujian strain.”

He noted that a pandemic would be expected to kill thousands just in Canada, but so far the swine flu has claimed 66 lives there. “You tell me how overblown that is.… Our preparations always have to be advised not just by the sense of possibilities, but by a sense of probabilities.”

England’s chief medical officer, Liam Donaldson, recently announced plans to scale back the National Pandemic Flu Service from about 1,600 call-center workers to less than 600 as the number of cases there continues to fall. He warned of the potential for a “second wave,” but so far the disease has been less deadly than even the regular seasonal flu.

Australian National University microbiologist Peter Collignon told ABC News the H1N1 virus was no worse than annual influenza strains. “My major concern about what's happening is the fear is out of proportion to what the data shows," he said, adding that the use of the word “pandemic” was creating unnecessary concern.

But here in the United States, the emergency preparations continue to expand along with the power of the federal government. There has already been discussion of forced vaccinations. And an inspection of so-called “executive orders” issued by past presidents and continuing under Obama reveals that the executive branch already claims sweeping “emergency” powers to deal with health concerns.

Unless Americans start demanding some transparency and accountability, the trend towards bigger and more aggressive government will likely continue. This time the excuse happens to be swine flu, but there will always be some “crisis” not to be “wasted,” as Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel put it.

The preparations currently under way to deal with swine flu are not only unconstitutional, they are probably more dangerous than the virus itself. It is time for Americans to take personal responsibility for their health and their government and to say enough is enough.

<font size="5">

Secret camps and guillotines? </font size><font size="4">
Groups make birthers look sane</center></font size>

McClatchy Newspapers
By Steven Thomma
Friday, August 28, 2009

WASHINGTON — Is the federal government building secret camps to lock up people who criticize President Barack Obama?

Will it truck off young people to camps to brainwash them into liking Obama's agenda? Are government officials planning to replicate the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, using the guillotine to silence their domestic enemies?

No. The charges, of course, are not true.

However, the accusations are out there, a series of fantastic claims fed by paranoia about the government. They're spread and sometimes cross-pollinated via the Internet. They feed a fringe subset of the anger at the government percolating through the country, one that ignites passion, but also helps Obama's allies to discount broader anger at the president's agenda.

<font size="3">The FBI Agent & Guillotines</font size>

In one, retired FBI agent Ted Gunderson says the government has prepared 1,000 camps for its own citizens. He also says the government has stored 30,000 guillotines to murder its critics, and has stashed 500,000 caskets in Georgia and Montana for the remains.

Why guillotines? "Because," he wrote in a report obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, "beheading is the most efficient means of harvesting body parts."

In a second warning, the Web site Worldnetdaily.com says that the government is considering Nazi-like concentration camps for dissidents.

<font size="3">The Detention Centers</font size>

Jerome Corsi, the author of "The Obama Nation," an anti-Obama book, says that a proposal in Congress "appears designed to create the type of detention center that those concerned about use of the military in domestic affairs fear could be used as concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany."

Another Web site, Americanfreepress.net, says the proposal "would create a Guantanamo-style setting after martial law is declared."

There's no evidence of such a plan.

In truth, Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., has proposed a bill that would order the Homeland Security Department to prepare national emergency centers — to provide temporary housing and medical facilities in national emergencies such as hurricanes. The bill also would allow the centers to be used to train first responders, and for "other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security."

In another ominous warning, a group called the Oathkeepers boasts that it wouldn't cooperate if the government orders dissidents locked up.

"We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext," the group says in its list of top principles.

Oathkeepers is built around the idea that its members — active and retired military, police and firefighters — all have taken an oath to defend the Constitution, not the federal government.

Whether inspired by the group or not, the message of loyalty to the Constitution has been heard in many of the angry protests in town hall meetings this summer against a proposed health care overhaul — often side by side with the suggestion that the health care proposal is unconstitutional.

<font size="3">Mandatory Camps for Young People</font size>

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., also is worried about the federal government and children, saying a bill expanding the AmeriCorps volunteer service could lead to mandatory camps for young people.

"There is a very strong chance that we will see that young people will be put into mandatory service," Bachmann told a Minnesota radio station.

"And the real concern is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward and then they have to go to work in some of these politically correct forums."


08-31-2009, 02:17 AM
QueEx, they been building detention facilities since 1999, long before Pres. Obama. Are you saying they don't exist? I don't quite understand what you are refuting.


09-03-2009, 06:40 PM
Bank Of America Asks Armless Man For Thumbprint, Then Denies To Cash His Check (VIDEO) (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/02/bank-of-america-asks-arml_n_275882.html)

All Steve Valdez wanted to do was cash a check from his wife during his work break. Bank of America insisted that Mr. Valdez provide a thumbprint to verify his identity, which he was unable to do because he was born with no arms. Despite the bank teller acknowledging this, and Mr. Valdez providing two forms of photo identification, the bank still refused to cash his check.

The bank eventually called Mr. Valdez to apologize.

12-13-2009, 01:08 PM
Israel tests biometric database (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/08/israel_biometrics/)

The Israeli Knesset has voted in favour of a bill for a compulsory biometric database of all citizens.

The Biometrics Database Law passed the Knesset 40 votes in favour to 11 against.

A big row over privacy forced the bill back to the drawing board. This led to the idea of a two-year trial rather than a full-blown introduction. Three months before the end of that period ministers will decide to adopt or ditch the technology.

For the first two years the scheme is voluntary. After that all citizens wanting an identification document will have their fingerprints taken along with a picture of their face. Electronic ID cards will contain a chip carrying two fingerprints and a digital picture.

Ex-interior minister Meir Sheetrit insisted the database would be safe "as any banking site" and the cards impossible to forge.

Sounding a bit Spinal Tap, he said: "If the databases of the Mossad, the Shin Bet and the Prime Minister's Office are currently protected at a level of 10, then this one will be protected at a level of 11."

He said there would be two databases - one containing names and one containing biometric identifiers, the Jerusalem Post reports. One member of the Knesset claimed he already had supposedly private information from a recent Israeli census which he'd found on the internet.

12-13-2009, 07:20 PM
QueEx, they been building detention facilities since 1999, long before Pres. Obama. Are you saying they don't exist? I don't quite understand what you are refuting.


Proof you can't make people see what's right in front of their faces. Oneofmany has posted more than enough articles to show what's up.

12-28-2009, 11:22 AM
Sen. Lieberman calls for preemptive attack on Yemen and full body scanners (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUEmkTMaqgU)

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12-29-2009, 05:35 PM

Full body scanner images; securing our airways again (http://www.examiner.com/x-5426-Internet-and-Technology-Examiner~y2009m12d29-Full-body-scanner-images-securing-our-airways-again)

We may be coming to the day and age where privacy will be forgone all in the name of security and protection. Full body scanners are reportedly on order at Boston's Logan International Airport (BOS) (http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/local/body-scanners-coming-to-logan-international-airport) as well as Chicago's Ohare (ORD) (http://cbs2chicago.com/local/ohare.body.scanners.2.1395477.html).

It has been over 8 years since Osama Bin Laden and his minyans of Al Qaeda terrorists devastated the NYC skyline and killed over 3000 souls.

Now, just days ago, on one of Catholicism's most holy of days, it happened again. The Justice Department charged that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, willfully attempted to destroy or wreck an aircraft; and that he placed a destructive device in the plane.

So what's next ? Obviously the TSA as well as the entire Department of Homeland Security are looking at better ways to detect, search and prevent this from happening.

Michael Santo of Huliq (http://www.huliq.com/3257/89971/full-body-scans-only-way-stop-flight-253-type-attempts-expert) provided something even more revealing that has many nay sayers, but just as many proponents as well. Those that have nothing to hide, have nothing to loose. What Michael Santo was speaking of was the controversial topic of "Full Body Scans"

In his article, Michael Santo says (http://www.huliq.com/3257/89971/full-body-scans-only-way-stop-flight-253-type-attempts-expert);

"As the world continues to reel in the aftermath of the flight 253 incident, in which Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, attempted to set off PETN explosive on a Northwest Airlines flight (Delta Airlines is NWA's parent company), a security expert says there is an answer. The backscatter machine, which provides a full body scan, could have prevented the incident, but at the cost of privacy for many"

If you Google "Full Body Scanner" (http://images.google.com/images?sourceid=navclient&rlz=1T4ACAW_enUS352US352&q=full+body+scanner+images&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=r2M6S5z2FMXTlAfcmJiZBw&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CBoQsAQwAA) you get a long list of image returns.

There is also a story within his story that quotes former Northwest Security Expert Douglas Laird (http://www.freep.com/article/20091227/NEWS05/912270421/1318/Security-expert-urges-body-scans).

12-31-2009, 01:31 AM
Kurt Haskell Interviewed by Alex Jones P1/3 - Eye Witness to Flight 253 Underwear Bomber

[YOUTUBE]<object width="560" height="340"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/YdwaBiFPGZ4&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/YdwaBiFPGZ4&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="560" height="340"></embed></object>YOUTUBE]

Young Sir
12-31-2009, 02:44 AM
Kurt Haskell Interviewed by Alex Jones P1/3 - Eye Witness to Flight 253 Underwear Bomber


very interesting..