The Plug Nickel Times is proud to bring you website links to news information that you may not find through your local media. All links are offsite unless otherwise noted - followed links should open in another browser window. Links can become dated or otherwise fail to function, for this reason we quote the actual headline of an article. This may allow you to find an alternate copy of the article through a news index or search engine. Some sites we link to may require a registration process to view an article - this website may be useful to you in those instances. Comments, corrections and submissions are welcome - an email link is at the bottom of the page.
January 16-31, 2005
January 31, 2005
Report hits at disbursement of oil money by authorities
"According to a report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraqi reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq failed to ensure that nearly $9bn in oil revenues it gave to Iraqi ministries was used for its intended purposes."
China and Venezuela sign oil agreements
Judge faults U.S. on Cuba detainees
"A U.S. judge ruled Monday that the Bush administration has been wrongly blocking terrorism suspects held in Cuba from fighting their detention and that the review procedure set up to determine whether they are 'enemy combatants' is inherently unfair and unconstitutional."
January 27, 2005
USAF playing cat and mouse game over Iran
"The U.S. Air Force is playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Iran's ayatollahs, flying American combat aircraft into Iranian airspace in an attempt to lure Tehran into turning on air defense radars, thus allowing U.S. pilots to grid the system for use in future targeting data, administration officials said.
The flights, which have been going on for weeks, are being launched from sites in Afghanistan and Iraq and are part of Bush administration attempts collect badly needed intelligence on Iran's possible nuclear weapons development sites, these sources said, speaking on condition of strict anonymity."
Gitmo Soldier Details Sexual Tactics
"Saar said he witnessed about 20 interrogations and about three months after his arrival at the remote U.S. base he started noticing 'disturbing' practices."
Iraq War Planner Feith to Leave Pentagon Job
ICE agents seize oil firm, 43 Pennsylvania wells
"Mr. Boyd said ICE agents, along with Investigators from the Monroe County, Pa., Sheriff's Office, located the assets after the money-laundering probe determined they had been purchased with illegal drug proceeds. A federal court in Miami had ordered them forfeited to the U.S. government.
In total, ICE and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office have seized and turned over more than $70 million as part of the ongoing investigation.
The seizures were based on a 1981 guilty plea by Paul Edward Hindelang, who operated one of the nation's largest marijuana smuggling operations in the late 1970s."
(Also see 'Narco-Dollars for Beginners' on the Soapbox side under today's date.)
January 25, 2005
Stay indoors and don't tell anyone your name, Iraq candidates told
"In a darkened hall, candidates for Iraq's main Shia party sit listening to a turbaned cleric speaking into a microphone. They are being told how to campaign for the election without getting killed.
The instructions are simple - avoid public places and do not reveal your identity, the cleric advised. Most candidates should stay at home as much as possible, he added."
Iraq: How the U.S. Can Attack an Ally
"Arbil is normally a quiet place. Capital of the Kurdish autonomous area in Northern Iraq, the city of 800,000 has largely avoided the bloodshed of 22 months of war and occupation.
Kurdish fighters here fought alongside the United States in the initial invasion. Since the fall of Saddam, the area has been governed by Kurdish leaders, whose followers provide security. There are no American soldiers on the streets, and no humvee patrols. The area had not seen a single American attack since the invasion.
Until this month, that is."
Iraqi Women Paying the Price by Dahr Jamail
Low Fuel, High Violence by Dahr Jamail
Newspaper Shuttered, Editor Held In Baghdad
"A local newspaper has been shut down and its manager arrested over an article that U.S. occupation authorities and Iraqi officials considered an incitement to violence and a threat to human rights in Iraq."
IDF reviving psychological warfare unit
"The Israel Defense Forces is reestablishing its psychological warfare unit, after a lengthy period in which the unit was dormant. It operates mostly in the Palestinian arena.
The overall intention is to conduct 'awareness operations' to influence Palestinian public opinion, mostly through propaganda, psychological warfare and sometimes disinformation.
Psychological warfare officers were in touch with Israeli journalists covering the Arab world, gave them translated articles from Arab papers (which were planted by the IDF) and pressed the Israeli reporters to publish the same news here."
Court OKs use of drug-sniffing dogs during routine traffic stops
"The Supreme Court gave police broader search powers Monday, saying the Constitution doesn't protect motorists' vehicles from the 'nosy' inquiries of drug-sniffing dogs during routine traffic stops.
Caballes said the use of the dog violated his right to privacy, since the officers had no evidence to suggest he was a drug offender before the dog arrived on the scene. It was a traffic stop, he said, and to expand the scope of the stop, the officers needed probable cause. The Illinois Supreme Court had agreed with him and thrown out his conviction.
But the justices said Monday that Caballes had no constitutional right to privacy concerning illegal drugs, and because the police dog was trained only to search for contraband narcotics - as opposed to money or any other lawful possession - the officers' action didn't violate constitutional search-and-seizure protections."
Government loses test of obscenity laws
"But in his opinion, Lancaster said that after the Lawrence case, 'the government can no longer rely on the advancement of a moral code, preventing consenting adults from entertaining lewd or lascivious thoughts, as a legitimate, let alone compelling, state interest.'"
Judge rules in favor of pornography business
"The government argued its prosecution of Extreme Associates was valid because the government has the right to restrict the distribution of obscene materials as a way to protect minors and people who don't want access to it.
Lancaster ruled he wasn't prepared to declare such a fundamental right exists, but he acknowledged the Supreme Court ruling could 'be reasonably interpreted as holding that public morality is not a legitimate state interest sufficient to justify infringing on adult, private, consensual sexual conduct even if that conduct is deemed offensive to the general public's sense of morality.'"
San Francisco May Charge for Grocery Bags
"The city's Commission on the Environment is expected to ask the mayor and board of supervisors Tuesday to consider a 17-cent per bag charge on paper and plastic grocery bags. While the goal is reducing plastic bag pollution, paper was added so as not to discriminate.
Officials calculate that the city spends 5.2 cents per bag annually for street litter pickup and 1.4 cents per bag for extra recycling costs."
January 23, 2005
Dying for Democracy
"To protect those who want to vote, whatever the circumstances, the interim administration has put in place a wide range of security measures. The country's borders will be closed from Saturday, January 29 - the eve of polling - for three days and mobile and satellite phone services will be taken off-air to prevent them being used as triggers for suicide bombers. Traffic around polling stations will also be controlled and each will be protected by three rings of heavy security to lessen the risk of car bombs. A dawn-to-dusk curfew has already been instituted and travel on the main highways is being limited to essential services with special permits, but even these strict measures are not expected to keep the determined terrorists at bay. Bowing to the inevitable fact that the suicide bomber will always get through, the ministry of health has announced that hospitals will be on high alert throughout the day to deal with the expected casualties. And that is the unhappy bottom line for this election."
Photo gallery - prisoner abuse near Basra
Gov't decision strips Palestinians of Jerusalem lands
"The Sharon government implemented the Absentee Property Law in East Jerusalem last July, contrary to Israeli government policy since Israeli law was extended to East Jerusalem after the Six Day War. The law means that thousands of Palestinians who live in the West Bank will lose ownership of their property in East Jerusalem.
With the recent construction of the fence in the Jerusalem region, Palestinian landholders from Bethlehem and Beit Jala requested permission to continue working their fields, which are within Jerusalem's municipal jurisdiction. The state's response stated that the lands 'no longer belong to them, but have been handed over to the Custodian for Absentee Property.' At stake are thousands of dunam of agricultural land on which the Palestinians grew olives and grapes throughout the years."
Pentagon Operating Secret Spy Branch - Report
"The Post, citing Pentagon documents and interviews with participants, reported that Rumsfeld had created a unit called the Strategic Support Branch to end "near total dependence" on the CIA for human intelligence.
The unit, which has been operating for two years, deploys teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists with special operations forces, The Post said. The department contended the defense intelligence missions were subject to fewer legal constraints, the newspaper added."
Elite commandos guarded Bush
"Somewhere in the shadows of the White House and the Capitol last week, a small group of super-secret commandos stood ready with state-of-the-art weaponry to swing into action to protect the presidency, a task that has never been fully revealed before.
These commandos, operating under a secret counterterrorism program code-named Power Geyser, were mentioned publicly for the first time last week on a Web site for a new book, 'Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs and Operation in the 9/11 World' (Steerforth Press). The book was written by William Arkin, a former army intelligence analyst."
White House Scraps 'Coalition of the Willing' List
"The White House has scrapped its list of Iraq allies known as the 45-member 'coalition of the willing,' which Washington used to back its argument that the 2003 invasion was a multilateral action, an official said on Friday.
The senior administration official, who spokeon condition of anonymity, said the White House replaced the coalition list with a smaller roster of 28 countries with troops in Iraq sometime after the June transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government.
The official could not say when or why the administration did away with the list of the coalition of the willing.
The coalition, unveiled on the eve of the invasion, consisted of 30 countries that publicly offered support for the United States and another 15 that did not want to be named as part of the group."
One Person Found in Boston FBI Manhunt
"One of the Chinese nationals sought for questioning in connection with an unspecified, unconfirmed threat against the city of Boston has been in U.S. custody for more than two months, the FBI said on Saturday.
Mei Xia Dong has been located in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in the San Diego, California, area, the FBI said in a statement on its Web site.
It said Mei Xia Dong, identified earlier this week as a male, is a woman who was arrested for an immigration violation on Nov. 11, 2004. She has been in custody ever since."
In Age of Security, Firm Mines Wealth of Personal Data
"It began in 1997 as a company that sold credit data to the insurance industry. But over the next seven years, as it acquired dozens of other companies, Alpharetta, Ga.-based ChoicePoint Inc. became an all-purpose commercial source of personal information about Americans, with billions of details about their homes, cars, relatives, criminal records and other aspects of their lives.
ChoicePoint and other private companies increasingly occupy a special place in homeland security and crime-fighting efforts, in part because they can compile information and use it in ways government officials sometimes cannot because of privacy and information laws.
ChoicePoint renewed and expanded a contract with the Justice Department in the fall of 2001. Since then, the company and one of its leading competitors, LexisNexis Group, have also signed contracts with the Central Intelligence Agency to provide public records online, according to newly released documents."
January 19, 2005
Iraqis Discuss Voting, Or Not, in Elections Held Amidst Chaos
In pictures: Shooting in Tal Afar
"...I think of the number of years that she's going to have to carry in her memory... the savagery of this idiotic moment of yours..."
Britain Rocked by Pictures of Apparent Iraq Abuse
Police will be able to fingerprint suspects using roadside scanners under new Bill
"People suspected of crimes would be forced to give their fingerprints to police using roadside scanners under new rules planned by the Home Office.
Anyone suspected of a crime and without good identification would have to place their forefingers on the devices, linking to the records of nearly six million offenders and suspects."
UA prof who killed as student backs anti-bullying bill
"Bechtel, who initially disclosed his violent past to his superiors and students in November, implored a legislative panel on Wednesday to take a crucial first step to outlawing bullying in Arizona schools.
The bill was hung up last year because Arizona schools already have state-mandated anti-hazing policies and federally mandated anti-harassment policies. And when bullying gets physical, children can be charged with assault.
But Bradley, D-Tucson, said Arizona needs specific anti-bullying policies to make sure school employees treat the problem seriously. Arizona is one of 33 states that does not have specific anti-bullying policies, according to a nationwide anti-bullying support group."
January 16, 2005
Blood is Precious by Dahr Jamail
The Tsunami of Iraq by Dahr Jamail
(photo gallery from story)
Collective Punishment by Dahr Jamail
"Seven weeks ago, after having suffered many attacks by the Iraqi resistance in the area, the military began plowing date palm orchards, blasted a gas station with a tank, cut the electricity which is still down, and blocking roads in the rural farming area."
(photo gallery from story)
Curfew Measures on Election Day (Iraq)
Report: U.S. Conducting Secret Missions Inside Iran
The Coming Wars by Seymour M. Hersh
"Rumsfeld will become even more important during the second term. In interviews with past and present intelligence and military officials, I was told that the agenda had been determined before the Presidential election, and much of it would be Rumsfeld’s responsibility. The war on terrorism would be expanded, and effectively placed under the Pentagon’s control. The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia."
Army given free rein in Gaza
"Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said today that he had given orders for troops to carry out unlimited operations against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip."
MI5 boss admits bugging Adams
"THE head of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, has admitted that British intelligence agents have been bugging Gerry Adams and other top Sinn Fein officials."