31 May 2008
Anna stares at the computer screen and considers her options. In front of her are two shapes - a flower and a stripy diamond. If she picks the right one she will be rewarded with banana milkshake, but the wrong choice will briefly switch the lights off in her Perspex box. She opts for the diamond and is plunged into darkness.
During the next nine minutes Anna makes the same mistake over and over again. The neuroscientists who designed this experiment are testing how good Anna is at learning new rules. Over the last few weeks she has learned that the diamond was her ticket to a tasty, sugary drink, but this is the first test in which the rules have been reversed. Most of the subjects adapt quickly. But Anna is different.
In March she was subjected to precision brain surgery in which researchers destroyed a small area of her brain. To the untrained eye this has not affected her behaviour at all; she moves, eats and socialises normally. But the experiments are showing that the specific brain region knocked out is crucial for subtle behavioural abilities.
30 May 2008
This guy is simply laughable in his arguments. But what else to be expected on Fox News? Originally from One Good Move: onegoodmove.org
The most obvious case in this is his first point: atheism in it's weakest sense does not say there is not a god. Atheism is simply the lack of theistic belief. An atheist is not primarily a person who believes that a god does ~not~ exist, rather ~does not~ believe in the existence of a god. It's that simple. Atheists always leave open the possibility there is this weird cosmic thing-a-ma-jig, we simply demand some evidence before believing in such. None has come forward that hasn't been thoroughly refuted.
Members of one of the world’s last uncontacted tribes have been spotted and photographed from the air near the Brazil-Peru border. The photos were taken during several flights over one of the remotest parts of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil’s Acre state.
‘We did the overflight to show their houses, to show they are there, to show they exist,’ said uncontacted tribes expert José Carlos dos Reis Meirelles Júnior. Meirelles works for FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s Indian affairs department. ‘This is very important because there are some who doubt their existence.’
Meirelles says that the group’s numbers are increasing. But other uncontacted groups in the region, whose homes have been photographed from the air, are in severe danger from illegal logging in Peru. Logging is driving uncontacted tribes over the border and could lead to conflict with the estimated five hundred uncontacted Indians already living on the Brazilian side.
‘What is happening in this region [of Peru] is a monumental crime against the natural world, the tribes, the fauna and is further testimony to the complete irrationality with which we, the ‘civilised’ ones, treat the world,’ said Meirelles.
There are more than one hundred uncontacted tribes worldwide, with more than half living in either Brazil or Peru. All are in grave danger of being forced off their land, killed and decimated by new diseases. Survival has launched an urgent campaign to get their land protected, and a unique film narrated by actress Julie Christie.
29 May 2008
Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky is a Russian politician, founder and the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Vice-Chairman of the State Duma (Russian Parliament), and a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
If I am to understand correctly, he's drunk on a train, sends an aide to the back to get his shotgun so he can hunt crows from the speeding train...gets trigger happy and so starts taking aim at chicken coups of the locals along the tracks as well. As if hunting crows from a train wasn't a bad enough idea.
Apparently this is a public train no less. I edited out the long lead in of him jabbering on and on and sending the aide to get his gun...I guess he's given to anti-semetic rants, which I think he was doing prior to this, but my Russian isn't so good.
This guy is the #2 in the Duma, and has run for president of russia several times. To his credit, he stops long enough to wave to kids.
Monkeys have been able to control robotic limbs using only their thoughts, scientists report.
The animals were able to feed themselves using prosthetic arms, which were controlled by brain activity.
Small probes, the width of a human hair, were inserted into the monkeys' primary motor cortex - the region of the brain that controls movement.
Writing in Nature journal, the authors said their work could eventually help amputees and people who are paralysed.
Lead researcher Dr Andrew Schwartz, who is based at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said: "We are beginning to understand how the brain works using brain-machine interface technology.
"The more we understand about the brain, the better we'll be able to treat a wide range of brain disorders, everything from Parkinson's disease and paralysis to, eventually, Alzheimer's disease and perhaps even mental illness."
28 May 2008
Since last month, there have been reports from that country about weird incidents of witchcraft and devil worship rituals involving human body parts.
Though in Kenya too there have been rumours of traditional healers who use human body parts in rituals, it is nothing compared to recent revelations of widespread use of body organs from albinos in Tanzania.
According to reports, the sexual organs of male and female albinos are particularly sought because it is believed they can effect miracle cures or offer mystical powers.
Witch doctors and devil worshippers believe that the organs of these people are a potent remedy when mixed with certain concoctions.
The notion that human body parts can be used to heal or bestow special powers has caused panic among the albino community in Tanzania.
The problem has reached such proportions that Tanzania’s President, Jakaya Kikwete, used his monthly television address to announce a crackdown on the traditional healers as well as plans to register albinos to improve their safety. “These killings are shameful and distressing to our society,” said Mr Kikwete in his Wednesday night speech to the nation. “I am told that people kill albinos and chop their body parts, including fingers, believing they can get rich.”
Videos and films from Nigeria that tout the efficacy of witchcraft are widely to blame for the current crisis in Tanzania.
The phenomenon recently took on an East African dimension when Tanzanian police arrested two Kenyans in the Mara region of Tanzania for allegedly killing an albino woman.
The two men who are said to be from western Kenya are now in police custody in Tanzania.
Reports in Tanzanian media say the incident so incensed the Mara Provincial Commissioner, Luteni Kanali Issa that he revoked licences for foreign traditional healers and ghost busters from Kenya, Uganda and the DRC Congo.
“The influx of these traditional healers has contributed to mass deaths of albinos and soon they will be wiped out,” said Issa. “We will not allow any one to violate their fundamental rights.”
The administrator says the woman was killed at her house at Sarari in Tarime District on March 3 while another was killed at Kijiji cha Bwai Kwitururu, popularly known as ‘Paris’ among the locals.
It later emerged that the Kenyan men had been sent by a traditional healer to collect body parts of an albino, which he claimed would make them fabulously wealthy.
In certain regions of Nigeria, diseases (such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, etc.), accidents, drunkenness, mental health problems, the smoking of marijuana, divorce, infertility and other misfortunes are generally blamed on witchcraft. And evangelical Christian churches are exploiting this superstition for material gain, charging up to three or four months the average working person’s salary for “deliverances.” Now the “prophets” have started naming children as witches, with horrifying consequences:
How Suspected Witches are Treated
- Abandoned, isolated, discriminated, ostracized from the community
- Taken to the forest and slaughtered
- Disgraced publicly and murdered
- Bathed in acid
- Poisoned to death, often with a poisonous local berry (asire)
- Buried alive
- Chained and tortured in churches in order to extract confession
UPDATE: More religion as child abuse at [GBG] Atheist News.
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan slams President Bush on domestic and foreign issues, such as Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, in his upcoming memoir saying Bush was not "open and forthright on Iraq" and was slow in his response to Katrina.
Politico.com reported late Tuesday McClellan's harsh words include allegations that two top aides held a secret West Wing meeting to get their story straight about the CIA leak case at a time when federal prosecutors were after them, and that Bush relied on "propaganda" to sell the war in Iraq.
The former secretary alleges in his book "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president’s then chief of staff, and Karl Rove, the president’s then senior adviser, "had at best misled" him about their role in the disclosure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity, the Web site reported.
BUT ALSO SEE: Phony McClellan Controversy Hyped To Cast Suspicion On Iraq Propaganda on INFOWARS.COM
A US businessman has testified he gave envelopes full of cash to Israel's prime minister but said he did not seek or receive any favours in return.
Morris Talansky told an Israeli court he did not know how the money was spent, but linked it to Ehud Olmert's "love" of "expensive" luxury goods.
Police are investigating whether the PM took up to $500,000 (£250,000) in bribes or illegal campaign donations.
Mr Olmert says sums from Mr Talansky were legal campaign contributions.
Mr Talansky made his claim during testimony under oath at the request of prosecutors, before his expected return to the United States.
"I gave [Mr Olmert] cash in envelopes," the millionaire campaign fundraiser said, according to a transcript of the hearing.
"I asked him why I couldn't write a cheque and he said it's because of the way the money is channelled."
When asked how the money was spent by Mr Olmert, Mr Talansky said: "I only know that he loved expensive cigars. I know he loved pens, watches. I found it strange."
Today, Nepal's new constitutional assembly will hold its first meeting and end the monarchy, a key part of a 2006 peace deal with Maoist guerrillas who gave up the bullet for the ballot box on the condition that the country becomes a secular republic. The civil war lasted a decade and cost more than 13,000 lives.
The Maoists, who won last month's elections to become the largest party in Nepal's assembly, say that the monarch will have an "honourable exit", but the fall of King Gyanendra and the disappearance of the world's last Hindu monarchy has been dramatic.
In the past few months the word "Royal" has been dropped from the army and national airline. Gone from the national anthem are any references to the king. The royal family, consisting of the king, the queen, the queen mother, the crown prince and his wife and children, left their pink-hued palace in the centre of the capital last week for the last time.
There is little doubt that royal belts will have to be tightened. The monarch's state salary of $3m (£1.5m) has been revoked and the royal family's seven palaces are to be turned into museums. Even the queen was forced to give up her retinue of beauticians.
After today's vote the king, who once ruled by divine right, will be reduced to a commoner - albeit an extremely wealthy one with tea estates and tobacco holdings in the 12th poorest country in the world.
27 May 2008
Children as young as six are being sexually abused by peacekeepers and aid workers, says a leading UK charity.
Children in post-conflict areas are being abused by the very people drafted into such zones to help look after them, says Save the Children.
After research in Ivory Coast, southern Sudan and Haiti, the charity proposed an international watchdog be set up.
Save the Children said it had sacked three workers for breaching its codes, and called on others to do the same.
The three men were all dismissed in the past year for having had sex with girls aged 17 - which the charity said was a sackable offence even though not illegal.
The UN has said it welcomes the charity's report, which it will study closely.
Save the Children says the most shocking aspect of child sex abuse is that most of it goes unreported and unpunished, with children too scared to speak out.
A Chilean judge has ordered the arrest of almost 100 former soldiers and secret police over rights abuses dating from General Augusto Pinochet's government.
Victor Montiglio ordered the detentions as part of a probe into the kidnappings and murder of scores of opponents of Pinochet during "Operation Colombo" in 1975.
A total of 119 people died during the operation, but 42 were never found, and the judge said that they should be considered victims of kidnapping.
It is thought to be the largest mass arrest of suspects relating to rights abuses from the period.
"This is excellent news, because Operation Colombo was also a case in which General Pinochet's immunity from prosecution was stripped and - given the number of victims - is an emblematic case," Sergio Laurenti, executive director of Amnesty International in Chile, told Reuters news agency.
"But it is important that the police now furnish the necessary information to enable the courts to proceed," he said.
"There is a lack of co-operation from the armed forces and security forces."
A future Conservative government will bring in "boot camps" for unemployed young people aged between 18 and 21 who refuse to take a job, Chris Grayling, the party's welfare spokesman, will say tomorrow.
In a significant hardening of Conservative policy towards welfare claimants, he will announce the abolition of benefit payments for any able-bodied person under 21 who is out of work for more than three months and who refuses to go on a compulsory community service programme or a "boot camp" training course aimed at improving their work discipline and giving them basic skills to get a job.
Grayling plans to ask private sector companies and voluntary organisations to run the intensive training centres - with the £5,000 it costs to support a single person on the dole being offered to the company or voluntary group once the person has been in work for one year. Individuals will be expected to report to the centre every day for an intensive training programme.
Some private companies - notably the Australian firm Work Directions - have successfully bid for business from Labour on a " bonus basis" to get the disabled back to work.
26 May 2008
Billions of pounds are being wasted in paying industries in developing countries to reduce climate change emissions, according to two analyses of the UN's carbon offsetting programme.
Leading academics and watchdog groups allege that the UN's main offset fund is being routinely abused by chemical, wind, gas and hydro companies who are claiming emission reduction credits for projects that should not qualify. The result is that no genuine pollution cuts are being made, undermining assurances by the UK government and others that carbon markets are dramatically reducing greenhouse gases, the researchers say.
The criticism centres on the UN's clean development mechanism (CDM), an international system established by the Kyoto process that allows rich countries to meet emissions targets by funding clean energy projects in developing nations.
Credits from the project are being bought by European companies and governments who are unable to meet their carbon reduction targets.
The market for CDM credits is growing fast. At present it is worth nearly $20bn a year, but this is expected to grow to over $100bn within four years. More than 1,000 projects have so far been approved, and 2,000 more are making their way through the process.
This man scary man-- Curtis Allgier, 27, a neo-Nazi inmate from Utah USA-- is accused of shooting and killing a prison guard while being examined at a local hospital. Authorities say he then carjacked a vehicle, led police on a high-speed chase and fled into an Arby's, where a 59-year-old bystander wrestled the gun away and saved the day.
From the story:
"This inmate is a bit peculiar in that he has ties to white supremacist organizations," he said. "And he had had some dynamics there that caused us to be concerned with his own safety [at Utah State Prison]. There had been some fallout from some other supremacists in the prison -- a falling out, so to speak."
25 May 2008
Balaclava-clad gangs, some wearing bandanas emblazoned with swastikas, smashed shop windows with iron bars and baseball bats and beat up shopkeepers in a hitherto bohemian neighbourhood of Rome.
Members of the gangs shouted “Get out, bastard foreigners” as they attacked Bengali shopkeepers in the explosion of xenophobic violence.
Gianni Alemanno, the capital's new right-wing mayor, condemned the attacks, which took place in the eastern suburb of Pigneto, an area with a reputation for tolerance, on Saturday night. Local residents also condemned the violence, saying that it must have been perpetrated by outsiders. One shopkeeper, however, said he had recognised one of the youths, who earlier had accused him of harbouring a fellow Asian who had allegedly stolen a purse.
Opponents blamed the new centre-right Government for allowing what they described as a climate of xenophobia to flourish across the country.
The new Government of Silvio Berlusconi last week announced a crackdown on illegal immigration and street crime at a Cabinet meeting held in Naples. Roberto Maroni, the Interior Minister, who is deputy leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League, said that the Government was responding to the concern of Italians concerns over immigration and personal security.
Speaking at a news conference, European Data Protection Supervisor, Peter Hustinx, raised concerns over the European DNA Database, criticising its lack of safeguards to protect tourists and the public travelling around the EU.
“In some cases it will be a nightmare not only for citizens but also law enforcement authorities. What might have been done responsibly has not been done well,” said Mr Hustinx.
“Tourists could find themselves suspects in a cross-border criminal investigation merely for having had a drink at a motorway service station,” he said.
He criticised Germany saying: “I’m afraid we can’t do much to repair the problem. I found it regrettable that the Germany Presidency used the dynamics of the presidency to get something adopted that should not have been adopted in this way. The safeguards are not clear, harmonised or even available.”
Germany held the rotating EU presidency at the time, which meant the rules were adopted in just four months, making the European Union rush through the procedure at the expense of safety.
The rules, as agreed by interior ministers in 2007, allow police to identify a suspect from hair, fingernails or sperm and will be able to check DNA data gathered in other EU member states.
24 May 2008
Senior government officials have leaked detailed information about a database of 8 million Americans targeted for detention in case of a declared national emergency.
Called "Main Core," the database's origins date back to the 1980s when the Reagan administration began its "Continuity in Government" planning. The Bush administration stepped up the effort to the point that even John Ashcroft and his deputy, James Comey objected on constitutional grounds, leading to the dramatic confrontation between Ashcroft and Comey on on side and Alberto Gonzales (then Bush's lawyer) and Andrew Card on the other as Ashcroft lay critically ill in an intensive care unit. Daily Kos: State of the Nation
Ideas from free minds: "Ed and Elaine Brown were taken into custody last week. I’ve made no secret of my support for the Browns, but I’m starting to worry about offering my opinions in such a public manner. Anytime I make mention of the Browns on this blog, I invite visitors from .gov IP addresses. Visitors from the Senate and House don’t really concern me but the DOJ visitors do. Whenever I previously raised concerns, some well meaning (?) people told me that I was a bit nuts. I mean why would the Department of Justice give a damn about my opinion? Why would they care about people exercising their right to free speech?"
23 May 2008
Two weeks after a FOX News investigation showed oil-rich Saudi Arabia had donated nothing this year to help the United Nations World Food Program feed the world's hungry, the globe's number one oil exporter is finally opening its checkbook.
The United Nations this morning told FOX that the Saudis have pledged WFP a whopping $500 million contribution in response to the urgent WFP appeal in early April for $775 million to help it cope with a crisis caused by lower international grain stocks and rising energy costs. According to WFP that threatened to put at least 100 million more people around the world on the edge of starvation.
The Saudi contribution came two weeks after FOX revealed, based on WFP donor records, that Saudi Arabia had given nothing at all to the food agency this year, despite spiraling oil prices that had brought on the food crisis.
All of OPEC — the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries — had collectively given just $1.5 million, or about 1 minute and 10 seconds worth of OPEC's 2007 oil revenues, FOX disclosed.
Gay men and lesbians must leave the country within 24 hours or face “serious consequences,” the President of Gambia said on Thursday. President Yahya Jammeh turned on homosexuals and foreigners in an address at a victory celebration rally in Tallinding.
The Daily Observer reported that the President had issued:
“An ultimatum to homosexuals, drug dealers, thieves and other criminals, to leave The Gambia or face serious consequences if caught.
“The President equally warned all those who harbour such individuals to kick them out of their compounds, noting that a mass patrol will be conducted on the instructions of the IGP and the director of the Gambia Immigration Department to weed bad elements in society. “Any hotel, lodge or motel that lodges this kind of individuals will be closed down, because this act is unlawful.” he said.
“We are in a Muslim dominated country and I will not and shall never accept such individuals in this country.”
Gambia, a mostly Muslim country of 1.7 million people, punishes homosexual acts, even in private, with up to seven years in prison.
A former British colony, the country has been ruled by President Jammeh since a bloodless coup in 1994.
Last year he horrified scientists by announcing that he had developed a “miracle cure” for HIV/AIDS.
Original version with Bilderberg information included.
Edited version with Bilderberg information memory-holed.
Debunkers love to claim that the Bilderberg Group is a mere talking shop and has no influence over world events, but it appears as if the secretive organization had some sway in ordering the Dutch Embassy to remove information about where they would be meeting this year from their official website.
Of course the cat is already out of the bag - the alternative media cracked the real scene of the crime this time around - Chantilly, Virginia - after it appeared Bilderberg had pulled a fast one by having Greek newspapers report that they had already met in Athens.
22 May 2008
An astonishing audio recording of a sermon, by controversial McCain endorser Pastor John Hagee, in which Hagee elaborates on his view that Hitler and the Nazis were divine agents sent by God to (with gruesome inefficiency it would seem) chase Europe's Jews towards Palestine.
In his 2006 book "Jerusalem Countdown", Hagee proposed that anti-Semitism, and thus the Holocaust, was the fault of Jews themselves - the result of an age old divine curse incurred by the ancient Hebrews through worshiping idols and passed, down the ages, to all Jews now alive.
Now, some people might make the claim that John Hagee himself is not calling for the ethnic cleansing (and genocide) of Jews - he's saying God wills it...
That's a classic dodge: fact is, John Hagee is interpreting Biblical scripture and then holding up his interpretation as the "will of God" but he himself, John Hagee is constructing that "will of God" message. Hagee is projecting his own voice and his own view, his own opinion and his own hatreds through "the voice of God".
It is John Hagee himself, and others of his Christian persuasion, who choose to validate Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust by ascribing those agents and their actions to divine will. But there's little in the New Testament which supports such hate-filled Biblical exegesis.
Keith Olbermann clarifies his use of the words "cold-blooded killers." He was referring to "former and current members of Mr. Bush's administration and the Pentagon who so irresponsibly unleashed the hounds of war." Why would right-wing commentators even think he meant U.S. troops?
21 May 2008
Chinese magazine has been shut down for printing pictures of scantily-clad women posing in rubble for a special report on the country's devastating earthquake.
The New Travel Weekly, a small lifestyle magazine, ran photos of sultry models in their underwear amid the debris in an issue that hit the stands on Monday - the first of three days of national mourning.
The press and publication department of the southwestern city of Chongqing, where the magazine was based, said it decided to close the magazine down for "rectification."
Why should hundreds of thousands of animals suffer (if not millions) just because of a out dated practice? Political correctness? Well that's OK then?
Many major European banks are funding the rapid expansion of agrofuel production in Latin America, leading to large scale deforestation, increasing human right abuses and threatening food sovereignty, according to a new report released today. [LINK]
The report - released by Friends of the Earth Europe amid global worries about the increasing impacts of rising food prices - calls for an end to investments by European banks in harmful agrofuel projects.
Agrofuels have been blamed as a major factor driving up food prices. According to the UN and the World Bank, 100 million more people are currently facing severe hunger due to higher prices for basic foods.
The report ‘European financing of agrofuel production in Latin America’ documents how major European banks, such as Barclays, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Axa, HSBC, UBS and Credit Suisse are investing billions of Euros in the production and trade of sugar cane, soybeans and palm oil in Latin American countries.
Fuels from sugar cane, soybeans and palm oil are increasingly used in Europe. Their large scale production in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Colombia is extremely controversial as it leads to the destruction of the Amazon and other valuable ecosystems, as well as to the contamination of drinking water. Large scale plantations also lead to human rights violations against peasants, with working conditions on some plantations in Brazil classed as modern slave labour.
A former US Army tank driver asserts that two figures depicted on the side of an APC SWAT tank that was recently used to protect cops from the deadly threat of women and children during the raid of a West Texas polygamist retreat actually represents the amount of people killed by police.
Gary Roberts, a veteran Army tank driver in the 80's, relates to us the fact that the two figures etched into the side of the US M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier denote "kills," as in how many people the SWAT unit has killed. The other image appears to depict a vehicle, according to Roberts.
Roberts appeared on The Alex Jones Show today to confirm the fact that Midland County police are apparently so proud of the people they have murdered, they feel the need to emblazon it on the side of their souped-up tank.
20 May 2008
Is The U.S. using new experimental "Tactical High Energy Laser" weapons in Iraq? “Star Wars in Iraq” is a new investigative report by Maurizio Torrealta and Sigfrido Ranucci.
"There aren't any," says the hotelier, with an embarrassed laugh when asked about the best tourist attractions in Burma's new capital. That's no surprise, really: Naypyidaw — the name translates as "Abode of Kings" — was built from scratch just three years ago, on 1,800 square miles of land carved out of scrubland on the orders of the ruling junta. Naypyidaw doesn't even exist in the Lonely Planet's latest Burma travel guide; there's not much tourist charm in a dusty bunker town that is little more than the wish-fulfillment of paranoid generals.
Naypyidaw is very big, and very empty. Even after cyclone Nargis devastated Rangoon, Burma's former capital, a metropolis of 5 million, still teemed with life. The authorities claim that Naypyidaw, untouched by the storm, is home to almost 1 million. But a recent visit found no more than a couple dozen people, outside of the gangs of manual labourers painting crosswalks and sweeping spotless boulevards. The 20-minute drive from the airport to the Hotel Zone finds just three other vehicles on the road, one of them a horse and buggy.
The Hotel Zone houses all six of Naypyidaw's hotels. Several more are planned — all sharing a bland rancho-chalet-villa aesthetic — although the eagerness and astonishment with which three hoteliers greet a guest doesn't portend well for their occupancy rates.
19 May 2008
Last month on Fox News, Ret. Gen. Thomas McInerney, one of the Pentagon’s propaganda team of military analysts exposed by David Barstow in the NYT, openly called for the US to begin committing “tit-for-tat” terrorist attacks by proxy inside Iran.
McInerney: Here’s what I would suggest to you. Number one, we take the National Council for Resistance to Iran off the terrorist list that the Clinton Administration put them on as well as the Mujahedin-e Khalq at the Camp Ashraf in Iraq. Then I would start a tit-for-tat strategy which I wrote up in the Wall Street Journal a year ago: For every EFP that goes off and kills Americans, two go off in Iran. No questions asked. People don’t have to know how it was done. It’s a covert action. They become the most unlucky country in the world. …
Media Matters’ exhaustive research into the NYT story shows that McInerney appeared on Fox News 144 times since Jan 2002, and according to this bio from last year’s “Intelligence Summit,” McInerney is on the Board of Directors for several companies with defense-related contracts that would seem to benefit from his pro-war propaganda. For example, Alloy Surfaces Company (ASC), whose contracts for “ammunition and explosives” with the Department of Defense appear to have grown from $15 million in 2002 to more than $169 million in 2006. A conflict of interest, perhaps?
The tactic that McInerney advocates of using Iranian opposition terrorist groups to carry out acts of terrorism inside Iran is not new, nor far-fetched. A little digging turned up numerous articles alleging that the pentagon had already been using the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and other groups in cross-border operations into Iran, at least until shortly after Sec Gates took over (Some news reports of attacks in Iran here, here, here, here, here. Iranian news video here).
Attorneys from the International Justice Network (IJN), the organization who has championed the rights of innocents held at US prisons in Afghanistan, today expressed outrage over recent revelations by the Justice Department that they are holding youth under the age of 18 at the notorious adult prison. In a report released to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the United States government admitted to holding over 90 children in Afghanistan, including 10 children who currently remain at the Bagram prison among the adult population.
"With all the documented torture, abuse, and injustice perpetrated at secretly-run US prisons abroad, it comes as a shock to learn that even young children have not been immune from being held without due process at Bagram." said Tina Monshipour Foster, Executive Director, International Justice Network.
According to IJN Litigation Director and Stanford Human Rights Professor Barbara Olshansky, "International law and practice clearly prohibits holding children in such terrible and terrifying prisons, and there does not appear to be any legitimate purpose for holding these children without access to their families or lawyers."
The International Justice Network is the only human rights organization representing detainees at Bagram. The group has filed several lawsuits on behalf of Bagram detainees since October 2006.
The yellow peril - Eco zealots insist oilseed rape can save the planet, but the truth is very different
To some people, they are a visual delight - splashes of gold that brighten the muted palate of greens and browns, adding a dash of almost tropical exuberance to Britain's landscape.
To others, however, they are a visual abomination, their vivid tones an ugly aberration amid our otherwise green and pleasant land.
Love it or hate it, oilseed rape, whose flowers are now in full bloom and which has probably done more to change the appearance of our countryside in recent decades, is here to stay.
Goodbye to green: Oilseed rape fields in North Dorset
The reasons: it makes farmers a lot of money; it can feed animals and people and is even being touted as the answer to global warming.
All of which cuts little ice with those who believe the crop is not only an eyesore, but also sends vast quantities of pollen and noxious chemicals into the air, causing utter misery for Britain's ten million hay fever sufferers.
This is a war that will not be over for a long time. As recently as the 1970s, oilseed rape was as rare a crop in Britain as bananas.
Now it is our third-largest arable crop by area, accounting for 11 per cent of everything grown by farmers in the UK. The number of fields being sown is still increasing as more markets are being found.
Former British defence chiefs and military commanders are urging the Government to scrap its stock of cluster bombs because of the danger to civilians worldwide.
As more than 100 countries gather in Dublin today to negotiate a new international treaty aimed at banning cluster munitions, the group of senior retired military figures has written to The Times and to Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, demanding that Britain's Armed Forces “move away from the use of indiscriminate...weapons which pose a threat to civilians and to our troops alike”.
The nine former commanders, including Field Marshal Lord Bramall, ex-Chief of the Defence Staff, General Lord Ramsbotham, a former Adjutant-General, General Sir Rupert Smith, who commanded the 1st Armoured Division in the 1991 Gulf War, and General Sir Michael Rose, a former Director Special Forces, declared: “If we are to be accepted as legitimate users of force then we must demonstrate our determination to employ that force only in the most responsible and accountable way.”
Production of Cluster Bombs
The following nations are thought to be cluster bomb producers: Chile, China, France, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa, Turkey, United States, United Kingdom
18 May 2008
By 1971, as this skilfully made film shows, discontent was widely reported by the network news. Activists created newspapers, organised protests - and, most conspicuously, went to see Jane Fonda perform in the vicinity of various military bases.
17 May 2008
A Dutch newspaper is reporting that Holland’s Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende (pictured) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen are set to attend the annual Bilderberg conference in Washington DC from June 5-8, apparently confirming that a recent alleged Bilderberg meeting in Athens Greece was merely a ruse.
As we reported on Tuesday, a Greek newspaper claimed that Bilderberg had met in Athens last weekend, but Bilderberg sleuths Jim Tucker and Daniel Estulin, both of whom have always successfully determined the location of the Bilderberg meeting in advance for decades, questioned the accuracy of the report.
Bilderberg occasionally attempts to throw investigative journalists off the scent by having a mock steering meeting in advance of the actual meeting, diverting attention away from the location where their undemocratic scheming will take place.
If the Dutch report is to be believed, Bilderberg will meet in Chantilly, which was also the site of their 2002 conference. Six years ago the Westfields Marriott hotel was chosen to stage the confab and its likely the same venue will be selected again.
A rough translation of the Dutch news report reads as follows.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen from 5 to 8 June a visit to the U.S. capital Washington.
On June 5 they received at the White House by President Bush. The Government has indicated that Friday.
Topics at the meeting with Bush would include the international political situation, including developments in Afghanistan, and economic cooperation between the United States and the Netherlands.
Following Balkenende takes part in the annual Bilderberg meeting, which this time will be held at Chantilly, near Washington.
Aaron Zelman: Our main goal is to destroy gun control. We are an organization that believes we have the moral authority to point out to the rest of the world the evils that have come from gun control and how humanity has suffered because of gun-control schemes.
We think the history of gun-control schemes has been so harmful to Jews that we have the moral authority to speak out. We welcome anybody who accepts the JPFO position that gun control must be destroyed.
We’re not interested in compromise. We are only interested in the destruction of something we consider to be a very evil and deadly policy known as gun control.
The 1968 Gun Control Act, as we know it today, became law during the Johnson administration. The history behind the 1968 act is indeed fascinating.
The author of the federal Gun Control Act, Senator Thomas Dodd, was an attorney with the U.S. Justice Department at Nuremburg. He obtained the Reichsgesetzblatt, which is the German equivalent of our Federal Register. He was able to use the German gun-control laws after giving them to the Library of Congress to translate for him. They did indeed translate the laws for him, and that was the model, the basis, for the 1968 Gun Control Act in America.
16 May 2008
MPs from across the political spectrum have urged justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin to explain the arrest of a cartoonist on discrimination charges.
The cartoonist, who operates under the pseudonym Gregorius Nekschot, was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of publishing work which discriminates against Muslims and 'people with dark skins'. The arrest follows a complaint made against Nekschot in 2005.
In a short statement, Hirsch Ballin said there was no question of there being limits placed on the right to free speech in the Netherlands.
Nekschot, an established cartoonist whose work features in magazine HP/De Tijd amongst others, was released after spending Tuesday night in custody. His house was searched and a quantity of work taken away.
In a statement, the public prosecution department said cartoonists are by nature satirical and often insulting to others. However, Nekschot's work broke the boundaries of freedom of expression and artistic licence, the department said.
Italian police began a nationwide round-up of nearly 400 illegal immigrants from the Balkans and North Africa yesterday in the midst of a series of arson attacks on Roma gypsy camps in the suburbs of Naples.
The first step in a drive on crime promised by the new centre-right government of Silvio Berlusconi targeted temporary encampments on the outskirts of cities from Naples to northern Italy. Some 118 people held in the operation were ordered to be expelled immediately for offences ranging from drug dealing and robbery to prostitution.
But in Naples local people have anticipated the new policy, taking the law into their own hands.
This week’s assaults on Roma shanty towns by scores of youths on scooters and motorbikes wielding iron bars and throwing Molotov cocktails were sparked off by the capture of a 17-year-old Roma girl who last weekend entered a flat in Ponticelli and tried to steal a 6-year-old girl. Chased by the mother and neighbours, she had to be rescued by police from being lynched.
Obese and overweight people require more fuel to transport them and the food they eat, and the problem will worsen as the population literally swells in size, a team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine says.
This adds to food shortages and higher energy prices, the school's researchers Phil Edwards and Ian Roberts wrote in the journal Lancet on Friday.
"We are all becoming heavier and it is a global responsibility," Edwards said in a telephone interview. "Obesity is a key part of the big picture."
At least 400 million adults worldwide are obese. The World Health Organization (WHO) projects by 2015, 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese.
15 May 2008
The Netherlands should abolish the overseas “integration test” that discriminatorily targets only migrants of certain nationalities trying to join their families, while citizens from other, “western” countries are exempt, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper released today. People of Moroccan and Turkish origin – two of the three largest “non-western” migrant communities in the Netherlands – have been especially affected.
Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director: 'These measures keep families apart and appear to be aimed at keeping certain kinds of people out of the Netherlands.
In the 44-page briefing paper, “Discrimination in the Name of Integration, Migrants’ Rights Under the Integration Abroad Act,”,Human Rights Watch offers an analysis of the Dutch overseas integration test in light of the Netherlands’ international human rights obligations. Human Rights Watch found that people of Moroccan and Turkish origin are especially affected, while citizens from “western” countries such as Canada, Australia, and Japan are exempt.
“The overseas integration test is discriminatory because it explicitly applies only to relatives from predominantly ‘non-western countries,’” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “These measures keep families apart and appear to be aimed at keeping certain kinds of people out of the Netherlands.”
14 May 2008
The massive 7.9-magnitude earthquake that killed thousands in China this week revealed a breach in the communist nation's outbound flow of online information.
Chinese bystanders were able to send images and videos quickly to the rest of the world in the hours following Monday's quake, exposing holes in the "great firewall of China," media and technology experts say.
"They [the Chinese government] have strong controls over information that comes into the country, but they've never thought of and, until this moment, they've never needed censorship of outbound data," said Clay Shirky, a faculty member at the interactive telecommunications department at New York University.
In this disaster, the worst quake to hit China in three decades, media-sharing services have been vital in spreading news. FOXNews.com
There could be alien life forms and believing they exist isn't contradictory to having faith in God, the top astronomer at the Vatican said in an interview published Tuesday.
In the Vatican newspaper piece, titled "The Extraterrestrial Is My Brother," the Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes said the expansiveness of the universe means there could be life on planets other than Earth.
"In my opinion this possibility exists," Funes, the director of the Vatican Observatory, told L'Osservatore Romano. "Astronomers believe the universe is made up of 100 billion galaxies, each of which consists of 100 billion stars. ... Life forms could exist in theory even without oxygen or hydrogen."
Funes said that there might even be other intelligent life out there, but believing in its existence doesn't pose a problem for those of the Catholic faith.
"It is possible. So far we have no proof. But certainly in a universe so big we can not exclude this hypothesis," he told the paper.
"As there is a multiplicity of creatures on earth, so there may be other beings, intelligent, created by God. This does not conflict with our faith, because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom of God." He said human beings could even consider another life form an "extraterrestrial brother" because it, too, would be one of God's creatures.
13 May 2008
"The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."
Einstein, who was Jewish and who declined an offer to be the state of Israel's second president, also rejected the idea that the Jews are God's favoured people.
"For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."
"May we live long and die out"
Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth's biosphere to return to good health. Crowded conditions and resource shortages will improve as we become less dense. VHEMT - website
One of their video's:
12 May 2008
Marijuana is no longer a taboo issue in the 2008 Presidential Race. Watch this video for a quick overview of each candidates positions on Medical Marijuana and the reform of the current laws. YouTube - 2008 Presidential Politics and Marijuana
Sudan raised the spectre of war with neighbouring Chad yesterday, accusing it of backing Darfuri rebels who launched a daring assault on its capital, Khartoum.
Hundreds of fighters from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) also attacked Omdurman, which lies across the Nile from the capital, on Saturday. Sudanese forces responded with artillery and helicopter gunships as fighting raged throughout the weekend. It was the first time that the conflict in Darfur had reached the gates of the capital.
UN sources and analysts in Khartoum said that Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of the JEM, wanted to show his strength rather than launch a serious attempt to topple the Government. But the attack brings closer the prospect of the region’s proxy war becoming a full-blown conflict.
About 200 vehicles mounted with heavy machineguns made the four-day journey from their strongholds in the Jebel Moon region of West Darfur. They crossed into the north of the region and then into Northern Kordofan, using areas controlled by sympathetic tribes.
Police in Nepal arrested more than 500 Tibetan protesters, nearly all of them women, on Sunday before what was to be the first all-female rally against China's actions in Tibet.
A senior police officer said the protesters were arrested for carrying the Tibetan flag and wearing head bands that read "Free Tibet."
Activists said the protesters were arrested from around the royal palace in Kathmandu while they were gathering for a peaceful rally.
The protesters were expected to be released in the evening. In general, protesters arrested in Nepal in recent weeks have been released that evening.
Nepal strictly controls any anti-China activities on its soil and maintains that Tibet is part of China.
"Of the 559 arrested, 535 were women and 24 were men, and included monks and nuns," officer Sarbendra Khanal said.
11 May 2008
An American woman who claims that she was gang-raped by co-workers in Baghdad while employed by Halliburton/KBR, a defence contractor, can take her case to trial, a federal judge has ruled.
The decision has opened the door for other American women who have reported sexual assaults in similar circumstances to challenge clauses in their employment contracts restricting such claims to private arbitration and keeping them out of court.
It comes at a time when the US Congress is examining whether the Government is adequately protecting contractors who allege sexual assault.
In Britain, MPs are investigating allegations of sexual harassment and abuse at the Embassy in Baghdad. The allegations also concern employees of KBR, which was hired to maintain the Embassy's premises.
10 May 2008
Government Clings to Military Power
Today the Myanmar government broadcast a message to its citizens - but it was not about the 1.5 million Burmese clinging to life, the victims of Cyclone Nargis who have no food, no water, no place to sleep. It was not about the international aid workers blocked from entering the country, humanitarians who might be the only line of defense against widespread disease that creates a second wave of death and catastrophe.
Instead, the bulletin discussed a countrywide referendum to be held Saturday that critics say is an attempt to entrench the military's power.
The message, delivered on state television, did not even mention the storm that blew into the country Saturday, flooding thousands of square miles of land.
Government Discourages Foreign Aid Workers
Those who survived the storm are still largely left to fend for themselves.
Their government continues to refuse to allow most foreign aid workers to help them, although the regime said today that it would welcome foreign aid - as long as it came in without accompanying workers.
"It's critical. If we don't get large quantities of relief in time, and the experts who need to come with that aid, there could be a second wave of disaster, and it could be just as serious as the effects of the cyclone itself," Richard Horsey, a spokesman for the U.N. humanitarian relief office, told ABC News.
The United Nations says it has reached 276,000 people in Yangon and the Irrawaddy Delta, the region hardest hit by the cyclone's 120 mph winds. But that is only one out of every seven people who are in desperate need of aid.
"If it takes another few days to reach another 276,000 people, it's going to be too late," Horsey said. "We don't have that much time."