Daily Archives

High-profile US official was waiting for Rigi in Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan

Ahlul Bayt – According to Ahlul Bayt News Agency (ABNA), the captured ringleader of the Jundallah terrorist group, Abdolmalek Rigi, was scheduled to meet US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke at the Manas Air Base for talks on waging an insurgency against the Islamic Republic of Iran, a journalist says. Rigi had planned to meet a high-profile US official at the Manas Air Base near Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek. Read article

Hackers expose security flaws with ‘Elvis Presley’ bio-metric passport

CNN – In the name of improved security a hacker showed how a biometric passport issued in the name of long-dead rock ‘n’ roll king Elvis Presley could be cleared through an automated passport scanning system being tested at an international airport. Using a doctored passport at a self-serve passport machine, the hacker was cleared for travel after just a few seconds and a picture of the King himself appeared on the monitor’s display. Adam Laurie and Jeroen Van Beek, who call themselves “ethical hackers,” say the exercise exposed how easy it is to fool a passport scanner with a fraudulent biometric chip. Read Article

Obama administration embroiled in illegal removal of Haitian children

Daily Telegraph – Senior members of the Obama administration approved the illegal removal of 12 Haitian children from a Port-au-Prince orphanage to Pennsylvania last month even though the children were not up for adoption in the US and some were not orphans.  Read Article

Russia announces plans to buy four French warships from France

Times Online – Russia is to buy four warships from France in the biggest defence deal with a Nato member since the end of the Cold War. In a move that has alarmed Georgia and the Baltic States, France and Russia said that they were in “exclusive talks” on the sale of Mistral-class amphibious assault ships. President Sarkozy said that he wanted to “turn the page on the Cold War” after meeting President Medvedev in Paris. Read article

Drought Threatens Syria Economy as Refugees Flee Parched Farms

Bloomberg – A few miles beyond an irrigated golf course on the outskirts of Damascus, scores of refugees fleeing drought in Syria’s northeastern breadbasket have settled into tents on a rocky field. “Our wells are dry and the rains don’t come,” said Ahmed Abu Hamed Mohieddin, a wheat farmer from the town of Qamishli in the Fertile Crescent, a rich agricultural area stretching from Iraq to Israel. “We cannot depend on God’s will for our crops. We come to the city, where the money is.” He and three sons work as porters in the capital’s vegetable markets. They are among about 300,000 families driven to Damascus, Aleppo and other cities in one of the “largest internal displacements in the Middle East in recent years,” according to a Feb. 17 report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.  Read Article

Ed – It should also be noted that Syria has an estimated 1.2 million Iraqi refugees living inside its borders currently

UN warns HIV/Aids leading cause of death in women

BBC – HIV has become the leading cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age worldwide, the UN programme on HIV/Aids says.At the start of a 10-day conference in New York, UNAids launched a five-year action plan addressing the gender issues which put women at risk. One of the key issues, it says, is that up to 70% of women worldwide have been forced to have unprotected sex. UNAids says such violence against women must not be tolerated.  Read Article

Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat plans to demolish Palestinian homes for park

Times Online – Scores of Palestinian homes in one of Jerusalem’s most volatile neighbourhoods will need to be demolished to make way for a parks project under plans unveiled yesterday by the city’s Israeli mayor. More than 88 homes in the Arab-dominated Silwan valley area of the city are scheduled to be removed to make way for a tourist centre. The plan has been criticised by Palestinians and the United Nations. Read article

A New World Order: EU Federal Economic Government Plans Gain Steam

De Spiegel -  With Greek finances dragging down the euro, calls for coordinated fiscal policy within the common currency zone have become more frequent. Now, Germany and France have presented a paper outlining what such a regime might look like,” reports Spiegel Online, outlining the move towards a centrally planned economy with Brussels exercising complete control over of the financial affairs of member states in a shocking lurch towards economic fascism. Chair of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who received the new proposal from German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, highlighted the need for a “European economic government” to solve the Greece debt crisis Read Article

Ed – Exactly the turn of events that we predicted would happen on 6th February 

A Conservative Estimate of Total Direct U.S. Aid to Israel: Almost $114 Billion

Washington Report – This estimate of total U.S. direct aid to Israel updates the estimate given in the July 2006 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. It is an estimate because arriving at an exact figure is not possible, since parts of U.S. aid to Israel are a) buried in the budgets of various U.S. agencies, mostly that of the Defense Department (DOD), or b) in a form not easily quantifiable, such as the early disbursement of aid, giving Israel a direct benefit in interest income and the U.S. Treasury a corresponding loss. Given these caveats, our current estimate of cumulative total direct aid to Israel is $113.8554 billion. Read article

Internet Freedom Under Attack – China – State tightens internet controls

BBC – China has tightened controls on internet use, requiring anyone who wants to set up a website to meet regulators and produce ID documents. The technology ministry said the measures were designed to tackle online pornography, but internet activists see it as increased government censorship. A number of websites are now being registered overseas in an attempt to avoid controls. Read Article

Australian aboriginals to sue British Government over nuclear tests

Daily Telegraph – Australian aborigines and former servicemen are to sue the British Ministry of Defence over diseases and disabilities that they claim were caused by nuclear testing in the Outback more than 50 years ago. A group of 250 people, including 150 former servicemen, say they have suffered cancer, skin disease and deformities because of the fallout from blasts.  Read Article

US plans ‘dramatic reductions’ in nuclear weapons

BBC – US President Barack Obama is planning “dramatic reductions” in the country’s nuclear arsenal, a senior US administration official has said. This would come as part of a sweeping policy review designed to prevent the spread of atomic weapons, he said. He added that the new strategy will point to a greater role for conventional weapons. Read article

Ed – then why is he spending MORE to maintain the current stockpile?

Internet Freedom Under Attack – UK – Open Wi-Fi ‘outlawed’ by Digital Economy Bill

ZDNet – The government will not exempt universities, libraries and small businesses providing open Wi-Fi services from its Digital Economy Bill copyright crackdown, according to official advice released earlier this week. This would leave many organisations open to the same penalties for copyright infringement as individual subscribers, potentially including disconnection from the internet, leading legal experts to say it will become impossible for small businesses and the like to offer Wi-Fi access. Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at Sheffield University, told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the scenario described by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in an explanatory document would effectively “outlaw open Wi-Fi for small businesses”, and would leave libraries and universities in an uncertain position Read Article

Greek PM says sacrifices vital to avert bankruptcy

Reuters – Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Tuesday his country was fighting for survival against bankruptcy and urged civil servants and pensioners to accept sacrifices to save the debt-burdened nation. In a dramatic speech to his Socialist PASOK party on the eve of a cabinet meeting expected to approve new austerity measures, Papandreou said: “I will fight to save the fatherland from whatever the nightmare possibility of bankruptcy might entail.” Under pressure to meet European Union demands to find up to 4.8 billion euros ($6.5 billion) in additional savings before he visits Germany on Friday, he played up the risk of default, saying speculators had made borrowing costs prohibitive. Read Article

UFO reports to be destroyed in future by MoD

Telegraph – The Ministry of Defence will destroy all future UFO reports it receives so it does not have to make them public, a previously secret memo discloses. Britain’s official UFO investigation unit and hotline were closed down at the start of December. Since then reports of strange sights in the skies sent to the MoD have been kept for 30 days before being thrown out, the newly released policy document shows. This stance was adopted so defence officials would not have to publish the information in response to freedom of information (FoI) requests or pass it to the National Archives. Read article

Ed – One could be forgiven for thinking this is just lazy public servants not wanting to have to deal with FOI requests. But if that were the case, why bother creating any paperwork in the first place?

Landslide ‘kills 100′ in Uganda region of Bududa

BBC – More than 100 people have been killed in a landslide in the mountainous eastern region of Bududa in Uganda, a minister has told the BBC.Minister for Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru has gone to the remote area to assess what help is needed. Rescuers are digging through the mud with handheld tools, looking for survivors and bodies. Up to 60 children are missing. They took shelter in a health centre which reports say was destroyed overnight.  Read Article

Egypt blogger military trial criticised

BBC – Egypt has been strongly criticised by Human Rights Watch for trying a blogger, Ahmed Mustafa, before a military court. The 20-year-old is accused of publishing false information in a blog a year ago, alleging a case of nepotism at Egypt’s premier military academy. Egypt’s emergency law, in place since 1981, allows indefinite detention and trials of civilians in military courts. Egyptian officials have denied that the power is much used. Read Article

Iraqi Christians protest over killings

BBC – Hundreds of Iraqi Christians have taken part in protests calling for government action after a spate of killings. At least eight Christians have been killed in the past two weeks in the volatile northern city of Mosul. The killings prompted an appeal by Pope Benedict on Sunday for Iraqi authorities to protect vulnerable religious minorities. Read article

Facial recognition phone application described as a ‘stalker’s dream’

Daily Mail – A prototype camera phone application that enables the user to find names and numbers of complete strangers has been labelled a ‘stalker’s dream’. The application, called Recognizr, has been developed to find personal information through facial recognition software.The user simply has to take a picture of a person and hit the ‘Recognize’ button Read Article

Ed – The technology of the state however is already many, many times more powerful than this consumer application

US steps up diplomatic pressure on Russia over Iran sanctions

Telegraph – Amid fears that Moscow remains intent on weakening a planned Security Council resolution punishing Tehran for its nuclear programme, western diplomats are seeking to convince Russia to support much more robust measures. They hope the West’s case for robust action will be strengthened on Monday when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, meets in Vienna to discuss a damning new report on Iran’s atomic intentions. Read article

El Niño and a Pathogen, Not Global Warming, Killed Costa Rican Toad

Science Daily “” Scientists broadly agree that global warming may threaten the survival of many plant and animal species; but global warming did not kill the Monteverde golden toad, an often cited example of climate-triggered extinction, says a new study. The toad vanished from Costa Rica’s Pacific coastal-mountain cloud forest in the late 1980s, the apparent victim of a pathogen outbreak that has wiped out dozens of other amphibians in the Americas. Read Article