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.
March 16-31, 2005
March 30, 2005
Car Bomb Targeting Shiites Kills 7, Wounds 9 by Prof. Juan Cole
250 Israeli high school students declare refusal to serve
"A new declaration of refusal by 'shministim' - students of the 11th and 12th grades of Israeli high schools - addressed to prime minister Ariel Sharon, Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz, IDF chief of staff Moshe Yaalon and Education Minister Limor Livnat, has already collected 250 signatures of youngsters facing their term of compulsory military service. The first members of the group are due to report at the IDF induction in the coming days, and the refusenik community is awaiting to see how the army treats them."
Metro cop planted drugs in suspect's car
"While officers were in the process of arresting local resident Mark Lilly last July on suspicion of selling harmless legal substances and claiming they were narcotics, an official police spokesman now admits, canine officer David Newton placed real controlled drugs in Mr. Lilly's vehicle. He has since contended he did so 'as a training exercise' for his dog."
Advisory Commiteee on Minimum Standards for Driver's Licenses and Personal Identification Cards
"This document sets forth the schedule for the meetings of the Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee on Minimum Standards for Driver's Licenses and Personal Identification Cards. Pursuant to section 7212 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the Office of the Secretary, DOT, is establishing a committee to develop, through negotiated rulemaking procedures, recommendations for minimum standards to tighten the security for driver's licenses and personal identification cards issued by States, in order for these documents to be accepted for use by Federal agencies for any official purpose, including identification, a given time after the final rule goes into effect."
March 28, 2005
No Government and 16 Dead by Prof. Juan Cole
Sharon vows to keep W Bank colonies
US defends Pakistan F-16 jet deal
"US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Washington Post newspaper the US was trying to build relations with Pakistan and India at the same time.
'What we're trying to do is to solidify and extend relations with both India and Pakistan at a time when we have good relations with both of them, something that most people didn't think could be done, and when they have improving relationships with one another,' she said."
Detainee held despite exonerating evidence
"A military tribunal determined last fall that Murat Kurnaz, a German national seized in Pakistan in 2001, was a member of al-Qaida and an enemy combatant whom the government could detain indefinitely at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In fact, that evidence, recently declassified and obtained by the Washington Post, shows that U.S. military intelligence and German law enforcement authorities had largely concluded there was no information that linked Kurnaz to al-Qaida, any other terrorist organization or terrorist activities."
Secret Service's Distributed Computing Project Aimed at Decoding Encrypted Evidence
"To date, the Secret Service has linked 4,000 of its employees' computers into the 'Distributed Networking Attack' program. The effort started nearly three years ago to battle a surge in the number of cases in which savvy computer criminals have used commercial or free encryption software to safeguard stolen financial information, according to DNA program manager Al Lewis.
Yet, like most security systems, encryption has an Achilles' heel -- the user. That's because some of today's most common encryption applications protect keys using a password supplied by the user. Most encryption programs urge users to pick strong, alphanumeric passwords, but far too often people ignore that critical piece of advice, said Bruce Schneier, an encryption expert and chief technology officer at Counterpane Internet Security Inc. in Mountain View, Calif."
March 25, 2005
No Government any Time Soon in Iraq by Prof. Juan Cole
Accounts of Iraq Raid Rife With Discrepancies
"Official descriptions of a clash between Iraqi forces and rebels somewhere northwest of Baghdad on Tuesday vary greatly; US military, Iraqi government and Western media sources nevertheless all cheer a 'successful' assault."
Major Battle North of Samarra Leaves Dozens Dead... Or Does It? by Prof. Juan Cole
30 Killed on Tuesday, Including US Soldier by Prof. Juan Cole
Kyrgyzstan Government Collapses After Protest
UK Lawmakers Accuse U.S. of Grave Rights Violations
"The United States has committed 'grave violations of human rights' against prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Foreign Affairs Committee of Britain's parliament said in a report on Friday."
Pentagon Censored "Embarrassing" Document, New Version Reveals
"In December last year, the American Civil Liberties Union released scores of internal documents it had obtained from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act. While containing clues about the Bureau's operations at the military-run detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the emails and reports were heavily redacted by the government before their release to the public.
Now a US Senator has pressured the Justice Department into disclosing some of the previously hidden information in one of the memos, revealing more information about the FBI's stance on the military interrogation techniques employed at the base."
Washington Focuses on Southern 'Axis of Evil' by Jim Lobe
"While U.S. President George W. Bush played nice to a deeply frustrated Mexican President Vicente Fox at the North American Summit in Texas Wednesday, U.S. media attention was focused more on Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld's efforts to sound the alarm against Latin American troublemakers in his swing through the region this week."
Army Orders Further Involuntary Troop Call-Up
"The U.S. Army is ordering more people to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan involuntarily from a seldom-used personnel pool as part of a mobilization that began last summer. They are part of the Army's Individual Ready Reserve, made up of soldiers who have completed their volunteer active-duty service commitment but remain eligible to be called back into uniform for years after returning to civilian life."
City-snoop Program Returns?
"Back in the summer of 2003, I wrote a little story for the Village Voice on the Pentagon's plan to track everything that moves in a city. Since then, there hasn't been much word from the Defense Department about 'Combat Zones that See,' or CTS. A planned demonstration at Ft. Belvoir never came about - or was kept very quiet. Last year, Congress moved to yank funds from the program's budget.
But now, CTS may be on the way back, if Tony Tether -- the head of Defense Department far-out research arm Darpa -- has his way. The agency's proposed 2006 budget calls for $20 million over three years for CTS. It's part of an expanded, $340 million push by Darpa to develop technologies for urban battles (see Falluja, Najaf, etc.)"
Senate Bill Would Allow Citizens to Kill Those Who Threaten Them
"A bill permitting the use of deadly force during a home invasion or when an individual considers themselves threatened unanimously passed the Florida Senate on Wednesday. The measure (SB 436) would eliminate criminal penalties for an individual who uses deadly force as self-protection in his home or vehicle and other unspecified circumstances."
Cartoonist faces Greek jail for blasphemy
"He meant it as a piece of religious satire, a playful look at the life of Jesus. But Gerhard Haderer's depiction of Christ as a binge-drinking friend of Jimi Hendrix and naked surfer high on cannabis has caused a furore that could potentially land the cartoonist in jail.
Haderer did not even know that his book, The Life of Jesus, had been published in Greece until he received a summons to appear in court in Athens in January charged with blasphemy."
March 22, 2005
Gun battles leave many dead in Iraq
45 Dead in Continued Guerrilla War - Baghdad Pitched Battle Kills 24 by Prof. Juan Cole
Gas pipeline blown up in Pakistan
"A gas pipeline has been blown up in Pakistan's Baluchistan, the latest attack in the province where tribal fighters are waging a renewed campaign for autonomy."
Myers: U.S. Weighs Long-Term Afghan Bases
"America's top general said Wednesday that Afghanistan is secure and the United States is considering keeping long-term bases here as it repositions its military forces around the world.
'That'll all be considered as we go forward with the whole global basing construct,' he said. 'Clearly the United States has an interest in the long-term security and stability in Afghanistan, so we'll be discussing that future relationship.'"
Iran to restart nuclear programme
Guantanamo abuse 'videotaped'
Aerial photos could track home projects
"New technology soon could let government officials look right into your back yard to see your new deck - and then check whether you filed the proper permits.
Genesee County officials are considering using Pictometry Visual Intelligence, a new, ultra-detailed data and aerial photograph system that can show a picture from up to 12 different angles and lets users combine the pictures with all sorts of material - even a tool to measure how big that deck is."
Calif. University Says 59,000 Affected by Hackers
"Hackers attacked computer servers of a California university and may have gained access to the personal information of 59,000 people affiliated with the school, a university spokesman said on Monday.
California State University, Chico in northern California is alerting students, former students, prospective students and faculty that their personal information, including Social Security numbers, may have been compromised in the attack three weeks ago, said spokesman Joe Wills."
U.S. in Talks to Settle with Tobacco Companies
"U.S. government lawyers have begun talks with cigarette makers to try to settle the government's racketeering case against the industry, a source close to the case said on Tuesday.
The government had been seeking the 'disgorgement' of up to $280 billion in past profits."
Remote Approach Launches PDF Tracking Service
"On Thursday, Toronto-based company Remote Approach announced the launch of its inaugural solution, an online service that provides its clients with the ability to track and administer PDF documents through a variety of distribution channels.
'Every time the PDF is read, it briefly interacts with the reporting repository to record the event. The user has access to live reports and data to see reports on views, distribution by channel or user group, or even download the logs into other systems and applications,' Bielby said."
March 19, 2005
Two Car Bombings of US Troops - Iraqi Politics Still Unsettled by Prof. Juan Cole
Journalists tell of US Falluja killings
Shave and a haircut: A killing matter in Iraq
"In southern Baghdad, the hazards of life have come to this: Gangs of militant Islamists are warning barbers that it is haram - forbidden - to shave men's beards or do Western-style haircuts. As many as 12 barbers have been killed, Iraqi officials say, including five in one day in late January."
Pakistan clashes leave many dead
"Clashes between Baluchi tribesmen and the Pakistani army in Baluchistan have left 50 people dead and scores injured, an Aljazeera correspondent in Islamabad said."
Justice Department Defies Appellate Courts Ruling on Clinton Pardon Documents
"Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, is in receipt of 915 blacked-out pages relating to the Clinton pardon scandal after four years of litigation."
March 17, 2005
Random violence a part of Baghdad life
Iraqi Parliament Meets to Sound of Bombs by Prof. Juan Cole
"The London Times's Catherine Philp in Baghdad reports the opening of the Iraqi parliament with perhaps the least enthusiasm and most acuteness of anyone in the mainstream media. The parliament did not really open, as in, open for business, because it is not able to form a government by electing a presidential council that would choose a prime minister. It just met for two hours.
Despite calls for the meeting to be held outside the heavily fortified "Little America" compound of the Green Zone, it was of course far too dangerous to meet anywhere else. The capital was locked down for security, and three major bridges were closed by the US military. As it was, mortar shells exploded only a few yards from the building where they were meeting."
Fallujah, Tent City, Awaits Compensation by Prof. Juan Cole
"Readers often write in for an update on Fallujah. I am sorry to say that there is no Fallujah to update. The city appears to be in ruins and perhaps uninhabitable in the near future. Of 300,000 residents, only about 9,000 seem to have returned, and apparently some of those are living in tents above the ruins of their homes. The rest of the Fallujans are scattered in refugee camps of hastily erected tents at several sites, including one near Habbaniyyah, or are staying with relatives in other cities, including Baghdad."
Hizb Allah rejects US call to disarm
Woodside says it has no links to Lightfoot (AU)
"Woodside Energy Ltd today rejected claims it used Liberal Senator Ross Lightfoot to smuggle $25,000 into Iraq.
Senator Lightfoot said he armed himself with a high-powered pistol and gave the money, in $US20,000, to the Kurdish Regional Government in January.
The money was intended as a "donation" from Woodside Petroleum, a company in which Senator Lightfoot had held shares, according to the parliamentary register.
Woodside Energy, a subsidiary of Woodside Petroleum, said today it had no relationship with senator Lightfoot."
Pinochet Hid Funds at Citigroup, Others -- U.S. Senate
"Chilean ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet used an intricate web of more than 100 U.S. bank accounts, including 63 with Citigroup, to hide and launder at least $15 million, a U.S. Senate report due out on Wednesday shows."
U.S. House backs $81.4 billion war spending bill
"If approved, the bill would bring to almost $300 billion the amount Congress has authorized in emergency war spending since U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq in March 2003."
Guantanamo transfers: none convicted
"Three years after the US opened its prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, 65 detainees have been handed over to their home countries but none has been convicted of any crime."
Bush Defends Packaged News Stories from Government
"President Bush said on Wednesday that the U.S. government's practice of sending packaged news stories to local television stations was legal and he had no plans to cease it.
His defense of the packages, which are designed to look like television news segments, came after they were deemed a form of covert propaganda by the Government Accountability Office watchdog agency."
FBI Whistleblower Edmonds Files New Lawsuit
"Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI contract linguist who was terminated in 2002 after becoming a whistleblower regarding the 9/11 tragedy, today filed the most detailed lawsuit to date outlining her allegations. The complaint, filed under the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA), reveals for the first time details surrounding Ms. Edmonds' interactions with a former FBI colleague who raised suspicions by her perceived efforts to recruit the Edmonds into at least two Turkish organizations. Also disclosed are the names of those within the FBI who went out of their way to undercut Ms. Edmonds' concerns."
Norton's role in casino scandal probed
"Federal officials are investigating the role of Interior Secretary Gale Norton and some of her associates in a widening corruption scandal centering on Indian casinos and gambling rights."
Auditors Find IRS Workers Prone to Hackers
"More than one-third of Internal Revenue Service employees and managers who were contacted by Treasury Department inspectors posing as computer technicians provided their computer login and changed their password, a government report said Wednesday."
US Army asks for longer enlistments as recruitment numbers fall
"The US Army has asked Congress to allow it to extend enlistment contracts offered to future soldiers by two years in order to "stabilize the force," as top defense officials warned that key recruitment targets for the year could be missed."
Scooter is blown up for being a 'terrorist bomb' (UK)
"A woman who tried to register her new scooter at a DVLA office had it blown up by the Army when it was feared that it could be a terrorist bomb.
A security guard said she could leave it in the car park. On Monday, staff called the police because it had no number plates. The town centre was closed for four hours and the Army carried out a controlled explosion."