MinnesotaÂ Independent – At a Republican Jewish Coalition event in Los Angeles last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann offered a candid view of her positions on Israel: Support for Israel is handed down by God and if the United States pulls back its support, America will cease to exist. Read article
Asian Times – Dollar-denominated risk assets, including asset-backed securities and corporates, are no longer wanted at the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), nor at China’s large commercial banks. The Chinese government has ordered its reserve managers to divest itself of riskier securities and hold only Treasuries and US agency debt with an implicit or explicit government guarantee. This already has been communicated to American securities dealers, according to market participants with direct knowledge of the events. Read Article
The Times – The Foreign Secretary persuaded senior judges to erase “exceptionally damning criticism” of MI5 from their ruling yesterday detailing the Security Service’s complicity in the torture of Binyam Mohamed. The revelation came as the Court of Appeal dismissed an attempt by David Miliband to stop publication of seven paragraphs showing MI5′s complicity in his mistreatment, which took place at GuantÃ¡namo Bay. The judges’ decision to allow publication was the climax of a long battle by Mr Mohamed, who says that the service knew that he was being tortured at the behest of the United States after his arrest in Pakistan in 2002. Read Article
Daily Mail – The U.S. has warned its relationship with Britain has been harmed by the court ruling that revealed Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed was tortured at the behest of American authorities.The White House expressed dismay after the Government lost its bid to suppress the documents which showed MI5 knew about the treatment of Mohamed.It declared that it was ‘deeply disappointed’ by the ruling and warned it would make intelligence sharing with Britain more difficult. Spokesman Ben LaBolt said: ‘We shared this information in confidence and with certain expectations. As we warned, the court’s judgment will complicate the confidentiality of our intelligence-sharing relationship with the UK, and it will have to factor into our decision-making going forward.’ Read Article
The Times – People living in the poorest areas of England can expect to suffer about 17 more years of ill health and disability than those in wealthier areas, a major review of health inequalities concludes today. The tax and benefits system “needs overhauling” in order to encourage more people to find and stay in work, according to Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who led the Government-commissioned review. Read Article
IMEMC – A seven-story building constructed by right-wing Israeli settlers on Palestinian land, in East Jerusalem in 2004, is moving toward receiving ‘retroactive approval,’ with the unexpected support of Israel’s Interior Minister, Eli Yishai. This support adds an air of legitimacy to the settler’s illegal maneuver. Read article
Croatian Times – A top scientist in Croatia has warned Europe to prepare for an ice age instead of talking about global warming. Physician Vladimir Paar suggests one would not need to cross the sea when travelling from Ireland or UK to Croatia via the rest of Europe. “A majority of Europe will be under ice, including Germany, Poland, France, Austria, Slovakia and part of Slovenia”, Paar said in an interview on Croatian news website Index. Read Article
Ed – Of course as with any predictions about future weather, they should be treated as such, just predictions.
BBC – Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has had his appeal against an 11-year prison sentence rejected by a court in Beijing, his lawyer has said. Mr Liu was convicted six weeks ago on charges of subversion, to widespread international condemnation. The United States and the European Union have called for the 54-year-old dissident’s immediate release. In 2008, Mr Liu co-wrote a direct appeal to Chinese authorities calling for expanded political freedoms. Read Article
Newsweek – Paralyzing the “frown” muscles also inhibits the ability to understand anger and sadness. And here I thought my Botoxed friends were happy, mellow, and sweet-tempered because a couple of injections of a neurotoxin had eliminated their frown lines, knocked years off their apparent age, and made them no longer look “tired and unapproachable,” as the company’s Web site cheerfully puts it. (If someone starts selling makeup named “Unapproachable,” send me a case. But I digress.) But no! According to an amusing little study, by paralyzing the frown muscles that ordinarily are engaged when we feel angry, Botox short-circuits the emotion itself. Read article
AP — Less than a month after calling bank executives’ pay “obscene,” President Barack Obama is declining to criticize bonuses received by two top Wall Street chief executives, saying he doesn’t “begrudge people success or wealth.” In an interview with Bloomberg Business Week, the president compared Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., with athletes who are paid even more. “First of all, I know both those guys,” Obama said. “They’re very savvy businessmen. And I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That’s part of the free market system.” Read Article
Ed – And they and their companies also bankrolled the most expensive election campaign in history, over $1 billion dollars for “Obama ’08″, his his lack of begrudging is probably quite helpful with another election only 2 years away.
ABC – Trucking giant Lindsay Fox is passionate about road safety.That is why he is unapologetic for rolling out new GPS satellite technology which keeps close tabs on his employees at Linfox. The black box tracking device was shown off to dozens of transport ministers and officials from Australia and APEC nations at Mr Fox’s Australian Automotive Research Centre near Wensleydale in country Victoria. “You can watch the truck moving along and watch the speed that it’s doing,” Mr Fox said. Read Article
Ed – Technology that government’s around the world are looking very actively at, usually under the auspices of congestion charging, and will soon be fitted in every car as a result. There are civil liberties implications. Be aware.
The Times of India – Australia will introduce full body scans for airline passengers as it strengthens aviation security in response to a failed attempt to bring down a US-bound plane, the government said on Tuesday. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said 200 million dollars (173 million US) would be spent over four years on increased airport policing and security technology after the attempted bombing of a jet flying from Amsterdam to Detroit on December 25. “The Christmas Day attempt showed that no nation can afford to be complacent when it comes to security,” he told reporters in Canberra. “The government’s highest priority is the safety and security of Australians.” Rudd said the government would spend 28.5 million dollars helping the industry fund a range of new screening technologies, including body scanners, multi-view x-ray machines, and bottle scanners that detect liquid explosives. Read Article
Sydney Morning Herald – A Bollywood heart-throb has made a mockery of an invasive new airport security system set to be introduced in Australia.Â The British Transport Secretary said last week that images taken by new full-body X-ray scanners, which capture the human anatomy in detail, would be destroyed immediately and not pose a risk to travellers’ privacy.Â But Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan has debunked the government’s claims, telling BBC talk show host Jonathan Ross that he autographed printed scans of his own body for two female security officers. Read Article
The Guardian – Privacy campaigners expressed shock last night after it emerged that large amounts of confidential personal information held about British citizens on a giant computer network spanning the European Union could be accessed by more than 500,000 terminals. The figure was revealed in a Council of the European Union document examining proposals to establish a new agency, based in France, that would manage much of the 27 EU member states’ shared data. But the sheer number of access points to the Schengen Information System (SIS) ““ which holds information regarding immigration status, arrest Âwarrants, entries on the police national computer and a multitude of personal details ““ has triggered concerns about the security of the data. Read Article
The West Australian = High-profile former policemen have spoken out about WA’s proposed stop and search powers, saying they are open to abuse. Former superintendents Dave Parkinson and John Watson said police needed extra powers to deal with street gangs, thugs, people affected by drugs, known troublemakers, special events and Northbridge, but current stop and search legislation was too wide-ranging. “What I don’t support is the fact that police may be put in a position where they can, for no reason, just search anyone on the street,” Mr Parkinson said. “That reeks of going back to a draconian era where innocent people walking down the street are stopped and searched. There must be a reason. Read Article
CNET – The FBI is pressing Internet service providers to record which Web sites customers visit and retain those logs for two years, a requirement that law enforcement believes could help it in investigations of child pornography and other serious crimes. FBI Director Robert Mueller supports storing Internet users’ “origin and destination information,” a bureau attorney said at a federal task force meeting on Thursday. Read Article
CNN — When Annie Brown’s daughter, Isabel, was a month old, her pediatrician asked Brown and her husband to sit down because he had some bad news to tell them: Isabel carried a gene that put her at risk for cystic fibrosis.While grateful to have the information — Isabel received further testing and she doesn’t have the disease — the Mankato, Minnesota, couple wondered how the doctor knew about Isabel’s genes in the first place. After all, they’d never consented to genetic testing. It’s simple, the pediatrician answered: Newborn babies in the United States are routinely screened for a panel of genetic diseases. Since the testing is mandated by the government, it’s often done without the parents’ consent, according to Brad Therrell, director of the National Newborn Screening & Genetics Resource Center.In many states, such as Florida, where Isabel was born, babies’ DNA is stored indefinitely, according to the resource center. Read Article
Harpers – Dr. Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner for New York City, was host of the HBO series Autopsy and is the forensic science contributor to Fox News. I furnished Baden copies of the official autopsy reports for the three GuantÃ¡namo prisoners who died under mysterious circumstances in 2006, as well as information about secondary autopsies arranged by the families of the deceased. Read Article
The Local – The European Court of Justice has told Sweden that it must implement a 2006 measure requiring telecom operators to store information about their customers’ phone calls and emails.The European Union directive, known as the Data Retention Directive, was approved by Brussels in March 2006, but Sweden has yet to implement the measure more than three years after its passage. The Swedish government conceded to the court that it had not fulfilled its obligations and assured the court that the EU directive 2006/24 can be expected to pass into Swedish law on April 1st 2010. But hours after the verdict was made public, Justice Minister Beatrice Ask told news agency TT that the government would not be preparing a legislative proposal on the issue prior to this autumn’s general election. Read Article
Electronic Privacy Information Centre – Today EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Security Agency, seeking records regarding the relationship between Google and the NSA. The press reported that Google and the NSA have entered into a partnership following a recent hacker attack on Google originating from China. Read Article
Ed – Big brother marriage made in hell or just business?
Reuters – Iran believes a nuclear fuel exchange with the West is still possible, state television said on Wednesday, a day after the Islamic Republic’s escalation of uranium enrichment drew a U.S. warning of more sanctions soon. Read article
Daily Telegraph – More people are afraid of losing their independence in old age and being forced to move into a nursing home than they are of dying, a survey has found. As elderly care becomes more expensive, more than two in three Britons fear becoming a burden on friends or family in their old age, it found. While three in four people said they feared getting ill in their old age, just 29 per cent said they feared dying, according to the survey. Read Article
Washington Post – Google staked a claim on another corner of the technology universe Wednesday, saying it now wants to turbocharge your Internet connection. The company said it will begin in certain test markets to offer broadband service capable of delivering bits and bytes at speeds 100 times what most Americans now receive from their cable and telephone companies. The announcement is the latest in a recent series of moves by Google that appear calculated to help the Internet juggernaut leapfrog the existing technology establishment to position itself for the future. Read Article
Roadshow Films, one of the film studios involved in the recent copyright case against internet service provider iiNet, donated almost $500,000 to Australian political parties in the lead up to filing its case. A coalition of Roadshow and other studios, led by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, filed the case late 2008, arguing that the ISP infringed copyright by failing to take steps the studios considered reasonable to prevent customers from downloading and uploading films and TV shows over its network. Read article
Physorg.com – During the UK 2005 general election, the seats Conservative party female candidates were vying for were considered virtually “unwinnable,” and the results were more likely to favor the male Labour party candidates. The reasons behind voter behavior and business appointments are difficult to pinpoint and controversial. Ryan proposes that at the root of the issue is the perception that women are less competent than males, despite evidence that women have broken through “the glass ceiling” and have finally achieved gender equality. Read Article