Daily Archives

China police probe Xinjiang ‘slave labour’ factory

BBC – Chinese police are investigating reports that a group of people with mental disabilities have been working in slave-like conditions. The 11 workers were apparently sold by an unauthorised charitable organisation to a factory in the country’s north-west. Reports say the workers were unpaid and lived in appalling conditions. This is not the first time a case like this has been uncovered in China, where there are no independent trade unions. Media reports suggest the workers lived as virtual slaves. They were given no pay, no protective clothing and had not showered for years, according to the Global Times newspaper. Read Article

Deadly bomb attack in Iran city of Chabahar

BBC – A bomb explosion in the south-eastern Iranian city of Chabahar has killed at least 38 people and injured many more, the official Iranian news agency says. The blast, reported to be a suicide attack, took place outside the Imam Hossein Mosque, the Irna agency said. Irna said the governor-general of Sistan-Baluchistan province had confirmed the incident. Read Article

FLASHBACK 26 February 2007 US funds terror groups to sow chaos in Iran (Daily Telegraph)

Why do we let this creepy company called Google spy on our emails?

Daily Mail – To many, the colourful home page of Google is the friendly face of the internet. Indeed, the company, which was created 12 years ago by two American PhD students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, has always prided itself on its quirky presentation. The hallways of the ‘Googleplex’ headquarters in California are stuffed with pianos, lava lamps, games and funky furniture for the enjoyment of staff, its webpage often features specially designed logos for days such as Halloween, Christmas and national festivals and – crucially – Google gives away its software for free. Read Article

Pakistan floods: No food, no homes, no help

Daily Telegraph – The water stretched as far as the eye could see, with only the tops of trees showing that the Dadu in Sindh had once been a fertile and productive agricultural plain. But, after 30 years of visiting and reporting from Pakistan, I found the sight of the flooded city of KN Shah even more shocking and surreal. Some 200,000 people once lived there. Now half of them had fled – and the rest were stranded… Read article

U.S. Called Vulnerable to Rare Earth Shortages

New York Times – The United States is too reliant on China for minerals crucial to new clean energy technologies, making the American economy vulnerable to shortages of materials needed for a range of green products — from compact fluorescent light bulbs to electric cars to giant wind turbines. So warns a detailed report to be released on Wednesday morning by the United States Energy Department. The report, which predicts that it could take 15 years to break American dependence on Chinese supplies, calls for the nation to increase research and expand diplomatic contacts to find alternative sources, and to develop ways to recycle the minerals or replace them with other materials. At least 96 percent of the most crucial types of the so-called rare earth minerals are now produced in China, and Beijing has wielded various export controls to limit the minerals’ supply to other countries while favoring its own manufacturers that use them.  Read Article

Editorial Comment – As we discussed in our Editorial of 31st October this year.

Wall Street Set For Best Two Years Ever, Thanks To Bailout

Huffington Post – Two agonizing years for the U.S. economy have been some of the best years on record for Wall Street. After first receiving billions in taxpayer aid, and now ultracheap funding from the Federal Reserve, Wall Street banks are on track to wrap up two of their best years ever. Even if the current quarter only matches the third in revenue, this year will be the second best ever for Wall Street, capping a two-year winning streak fueled by government dollars, Bloomberg reports. Read Article

US drone strike kills four in Pakistan

AFP – A US drone strike in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt on Tuesday has killed four militants, destroying their vehicle, local security officials said. The strike took place in Spalga village, 15 kilometres south of Miranshah, the main town of the North Waziristan tribal district, near the Afghan border. “It was a US drone strike, which targeted a militant’s vehicle, killing four rebels,” a senior local security official told AFP. Advertisement: Story continues below Another security official confirmed the strike and said the drone fired two missiles. Read Article

WikiLeaks cables name UK banker as middleman in Kazakh corruption ring

Guardian – A British tycoon is identified by US diplomats as the man at the centre of one of America’s worst recent corruption scandals, in which large bribes were allegedly handed over in the ex-Soviet state of Kazakhstan. Robert Kissin, a UK banker and commodity trader, is alleged to be the key middleman who handled a $4m (£2.5m) secret payment. According to leaked US diplomatic dispatches released by WikiLeaks, the cash was moved through a Barclays bank account set up in London on behalf of an offshore shell company registered in the Isle of Man, where true ownerships are easier to conceal. Read Article

Ad networks owned by Google, Microsoft serve malware

The Register – Two of the world’s biggest ad serving networks – one owned by Google and the other by Microsoft – have been caught delivering booby-trapped banner ads that infect computers with malware without any action required on the part of the end user. The ads on Google’s DoubleClick and Microsoft’s rad.msn.com contained heavily obfuscated javascript in an attempt to conceal the attack, according to an analysis by web security firm Armorize. As a result, people surfing to Scout.com, MSNBC.com and other sites that relied on the ad platforms were surreptitiously attacked by malicious code that in many cases was able to install malware without any warning. Read Article

Vatican Bank mired in laundering scandal

AP — This is no ordinary bank: The ATMs are in Latin. Priests use a private entrance. A life-size portrait of Pope Benedict XVI hangs on the wall. Nevertheless, the Institute for Religious Works is a bank, and it is under harsh new scrutiny in a case involving money-laundering allegations that led police to seize $30 million in Vatican assets in September. Critics say the case shows that the “Vatican Bank” has never shed its penchant for secrecy and scandal. Read article

WikiLeaks: Julian Assange bail hearing makes legal history with Twitter ruling

Daily Telegraph – The district judge hearing the bail application from Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, made an unusual form of legal history allowing live updates to be sent from his court on the website Twitter. Read article

Espionage Act: How the Government Can Engage in Serious Aggression Against the People of the United States

Huffington Post – This week, Senators Joe Lieberman and Dianne Feinstein engaged in acts of serious aggression against their own constituents, and the American people in general. They both invoked the 1917 Espionage Act and urged its use in going after Julian Assange. For good measure, Lieberman extended his invocation of the Espionage Act to include a call to use it to investigate the New York Times, which published WikiLeaks’ diplomatic cables. Reports yesterday suggest that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder may seek to invoke the Espionage Act against Assange. Read Article

Climate Fact Of The Day – Antarctic Spring/Summer Sea Ice Above Normal For Two Straight Years

Source: http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/S_timeseries.png

Source: http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/S_timeseries.png

Antarctic ice anomalies are located at lower latitudes than Arctic ice anomalies, so they have a larger effect on the Earth’s radiation budget – by reflecting sunlight back into space. Global sea ice anomalies cool the planet.

Nigeria: Government Drops Charges Against Cheney, Halliburton

All Africa.Com – THE Federal Government’s effort at prosecuting former United States Vice President Richard Bruce ‘Dick’ Cheney and other officials of Halliburton paid off, following payment of huge sums of money to the coffers of Nigeria, as Nigeria has reportedly agreed to drop charges against Cheney and Halliburton.The development followed agreement reached between Nigerian officials in the negotiating team and top officials of the United States and Halliburton in a meeting held in London, weekend.At the meeting, Halliburton agreed to pay about N20 billion as criminal penalty, while promising to liaise with the United States Government to recover the outstanding $I32 million which is currently frozen in Switzerland. Read Article

Editorial Comment – The least surprising news of the week

Assange accuser may have ceased co-operating

Crikey – Anna Ardin, one of the two complainants in the rape and sexual assault case against WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, has left Sweden, and may have ceased actively co-operating with the Swedish prosecution service and her own lawyer, sources in Sweden told Crikey today. The move comes amid a growing campaign by leading Western feminists to question the investigation, and renewed confusion as to whether Sweden has actually issued charges against Assange. Naomi Klein, Naomi Wolf, and the European group Women Against Rape, have all made statements questioning the nature and purpose of the prosecution. Read Article

Riots break out in Rome after Silvio Berlusconi survives confidence votes

The Guardian – Against an alarming background of violence inside and outside parliament, Silvio Berlusconi today scraped through confidence votes in both houses of the Italian parliament.The survival of his rightwing government was greeted by widespread disturbances in Rome where hooded and helmeted protesters set up flaming barricades, attacked police with sticks and bars, smashed the windows of shops and banks, and set alight cars, police vans and local authority vehicles. Police responded with baton charges, teargas and, in some cases reported by witnesses, indiscriminate beatings.Ninety people, including 50 police, were reported injured. According to police, there were 41 arrests. Read Article

Israel group blasts arrests of Palestinian minors

Herald – Heavily armed Israeli police dragged the Dana brothers from their home before dawn, tossed them in armored jeeps and hauled them in for interrogation, the Palestinian boys and their father told The Associated Press. While Israel has long relied on night raids like this to nab Palestinian militants who seek to kill Israelis, the Dana brothers didn’t fit the bill. Their alleged crime: throwing stones. Their ages: 14 and 16. In a report released Monday, the Israeli rights group B’Tselem says the youths’ arrest is part of an Israeli campaign targeting Palestinian minors – one just 5 years old – for stone throwing in east Jerusalem. Read Article

Black segregation in US drops to lowest in century

AP — America’s neighborhoods took large strides toward racial integration in the last decade as blacks and whites chose to live near each other at the highest levels in a century. Still, segregation in many parts of the U.S. persisted, with Hispanics in particular turning away from whites. Read article

Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci ‘linked to organ trafficking’

BBC – Former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commanders are accused of serious human rights abuses, including organ and drug trafficking in a report from the human rights body, the Council of Europe. A draft copy, seen by the BBC, names Hashim Thaci, Kosovo’s current prime minister and wartime political leader of the KLA, 27 times in as many pages. Read Article

Assange granted bail but still behind bars

ABC – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been granted bail in a London court but will spend at least another night in jail pending an appeal against the decision.A British judge granted Mr Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for questioning over alleged sex crimes, bail of 200,000 pounds ($316,000).But prosecutors representing Swedish authorities quickly said they would appeal against the bail decision and Judge Howard Riddle said Mr Assange must remain in custody until a new hearing is held within the next 48 hours. Read Article

Sweet deal: Nestle to buy Jenny Craig

ABC – Nestle, the company behind Smarties, Chokito and Fantales, has announced it will soon engulf the weight-loss organisation Jenny Craig. The chocolatier and multinational food company said it would acquire, at an undisclosed price, all shares of the group that controls the Jenny Craig franchise in Australia and New Zealand. The acquisition next month will complete Nestle’s takeover of Jenny Craig, a process which began in 2006 with the US$600 million buy-out of its international arm. The weight-loss company was founded in Australia in 1983 and so it was fitting to reunite it with the growing international business, Jenny Craig chief executive Patti Larchet said. Read Article

China Said to Plan for at Least $1.1 Trillion Credit Expansion Next Year

Bloomberg – China is likely to set a target of at least 7 trillion yuan ($1.1 trillion) of new loans for 2011 after leaders met to decide key economic policy objectives for the coming year, said two people briefed on the matter. The government also aims for 4 percent inflation, 8 percent economic growth and 16 percent money supply expansion for next year, the people said, declining to be identified because the information isn’t public. No final target for new lending has been set and the figure may change, one person said. Read Article

Potential Chink in Armor of African Sleeping Sickness Parasite: It’s Social

ScienceDaily — Long considered a freewheeling loner, the Trypanosoma brucei parasite responsible for African sleeping sickness has revealed a totally unexpected social side, opening a potential chink in the behavioral armor of this and other supposedly solitary human parasites, according to research presented at the American Society for Cell Biology’s 50th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. Read article

Swedish Military Had Prior Knowledge Of Suicide Blast

The Local – A Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) employee warned an acquaintance to stay clear of an area in central Stockholm on Saturday where, several hours later, two explosions went off in what is being called a terrorist attack. Read Article

UK Local councils ‘face average 4.4% cut’

Independent – Town halls in England will face no more than an 8.9% reduction in their spending power next year, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said today. Setting out the financial settlement for councils for the next two years, Mr Pickles said the average reduction in spending power for 2011/12 would be 4.4%. But he did not give the exact figures for cuts to councils’ revenue support grant in his statement to the Commons. The figure was not immediately available from the Department for Communities and Local Government. Read Article