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.

April 1-15, 2005

April 15, 2005

Israeli officer cleared in shooting
"An Israeli military judge has cleared an officer of misusing his weapon in the shooting death of a British cameraman in the Gaza Strip almost two years ago."

Suit Details Abuse Allegations at Guantanamo
Related background on this story
Unlawful detention of six men from Bosnia-Herzegovina in Guantánamo Bay  5/30/03
Six Algerians seized in Bosnia-Herzegovina  5/5/04
Interview with the Families of the Bosnian Detainees  10/9/04
"In January 2002, six Algerians resident in Bosnia were acquitted of charges that they conspired to attack the US and British embassies in Sarajevo. The very morning they expected to be released into the arms of their families, the six men were hooded and kidnapped by US agents and extradited to Guantanamo Bay."

More US troops questioning Iraq duty

US mercenaries spill blood over Afghan opium
"It was the first day of Afghanistan's new opium eradication programme and the quiet town of Maiwand in Kandahar province had been chosen for action."

April 13, 2005

At least 17 Killed by Bombs, 4 US Contractors Wounded by Prof. Juan Cole

Violence Flares in Iraq; U.S. Hostage on Tape

Many Iraqis killed in US air attack

Vanunu put back on trial
"Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has gone on trial, accused of violating terms of his release from prison by talking to foreign reporters and trying to visit the West Bank."

More UK terror trial: Evil foiled or more mendacity?
"The cats were out of their bags April 13 -- today -- in the United Kingdom on the UK ricin cell terror trial. In the last edition of National Security Notes, readers were informed that no ricin had originally been found at the apartment in Wood Green on January 5, 2003. What were found was 22 castor seeds and notes in Arabic addressing ricin and a handful of other poisons, nicotine, solanine, botulinum and cyanide.

In any case, as had been written in National Security Notes on Monday, the jury found Kamel Bourgass guilty of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance with poisons and all co-defendants not guilty last week. They hung on a charge against Bourgass of conspiracy to murder and were given two extensions to reach a decision before being dismissed. The second extension expired today. They remained hung on the conspiracy to murder charge and were subsequently discharged.

Bourgass had been convicted of the dastardly murder of a policeman in a prior unpublicized trial and was committed to a life sentence. An additional 17-year sentence was administered for the conviction on conspiracy to commit a public nuisance."
Murder... and conspiring to create a public nuisance!  *

UK terror trial finds no terror: Not guilty of conspiracy to poison London with ricin
"One of the last claims in Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003 blew away like dust in the wind late last week in the Old Bailey, London's central criminal court."

Killer jailed over poison plot
"An al-Qaeda suspect who stabbed to death a policeman has been jailed for 17 years for plotting to spread ricin and other poisons on the UK's streets."

Introducing the 'Matrix' laptop-triggered landmine
"The US Army will by June deploy in Iraq its "Matrix" system of remotely-detonated landmines, despite widespread concerns about the technology. The Mosul-based Styker Brigade will, according to Yahoo! news, be able to control individual devices from a laptop via a WLAN set-up."

LexisNexis Data on 310,000 People Feared Stolen
"Data broker LexisNexis said Tuesday that personal information may have been stolen on 310,000 U.S. citizens, or nearly 10 times the number found in a data breach announced last month."

Secret Service Investigates Bush Stamp Art
"Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur stated, 'We need to ensure, as best we can, that this is nothing more than artwork with a political statement.'"
"Axis of Evil: The Secret History of Sin,"
at the Glass Curtain Gallery, Columbia College in Chicago - 4/6-5/11/05
Brandtner Design
Other work featured in the exhibit

April 9, 2005

Iraqis demand US exit as 29 killed
"Tens of thousands of Shiite protesters poured into central Baghdad to demand that US troops leave Iraq as 29 people were killed in attacks on the second anniversary of Saddam Hussein's downfall."

Bush Drafts Plan to See Intl Banking Records
"The Bush administration is developing a plan to give the government access to possibly hundreds of millions of international banking records in an effort to trace and deter terrorist financing, The New York Times reported in Sunday editions.

Citing interviews with government officials, the newspaper reported that the new initiative, conceived by a working group within the Treasury Department, would vastly expand government access to financial transactions via logs of international wire transfers into and out of U.S. banks."

Teachers and Classmates Express Outrage at Arrest of Girl, 16, as a Terrorist Threat
"According to a government document provided to The New York Times by a federal official earlier this week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has asserted that both girls are 'an imminent threat to the security of the United States based on evidence that they plan to be suicide bombers.' No evidence was cited, and federal officials will not comment on the case."

US: Pentagon Detention Guidelines Entrench Illegality
"Proposed Pentagon guidelines will formalize the U.S. military’s illegal policy of holding 'enemy combatants' without protections under the Geneva Conventions, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The new policies, set out in a 142-page final draft document prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff entitled 'Joint Publication 3-63: Joint Doctrine for Detainee Operations,'include a directive that would allow the military to hold enemy combatants as 'ghost detainees,' by denying access to them by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The guidelines formalize a new category of detainee, 'enemy combatants,' in connection with 'the Global War on Terror' who are 'not entitled to the privileges and protection of the Geneva Conventions.' The document then cites an extensive and expanding list of 'terrorists and terrorist groups' identified under President Bush’s 2001 Executive Order 13224, and states: 'Anyone detained that is affiliated with these organizations will be classified as EC [Enemy Combatant].'

Executive Order 13224, currently 92 pages, contains common names and aliases like 'Mohammad Zia' and 'Abdullah Ahmed,' shared by tens of thousands of persons worldwide, and names groups that are neither at war with nor engaged in terrorism against the United States, such as the Basque group ETA; the Sword of David or American Friends of the United Yeshiva Movement; and the Real Irish Republican Army."

Tag Texas Cars with RFIDs?
"Texas state Rep. Larry Phillips, a Republican whose district covers Fannin and Grayson counties northeast of Dallas, has proposed HB 2893 that reads like a futuristic scene from science fiction come to life: He wants to put a 'tamper-resistant transponder,' in other words, a RFID, in Texans' vehicle registration stickers."

Defense doctrine web site goes dark
"A large portion of a major Department of Defense web site was taken offline overnight after unclassified documents on the site became the subject of news stories and public controversy."

Leaders shrug off Rome handshakes

April 7, 2005

Huhn? The Real Iraq by Prof. Juan Cole
"If you spend any time reading Arabic newspapers, the main conclusion you draw about Iraq is that it just isn't like the typical American imagination of it. I've extracted a few paras. (from a long set of summaries) from the BBC World Monitoring for April 3 and 4 from the Iraqi press below. Each of the entries has a 'what in the world?' factor as I read them, just because you don't see this sort of thing in the US media."

US probes whether troops hold Iraq women "hostage"
"The U.S. military in Baghdad confirmed on Wednesday it was holding two Iraqi women and was investigating accusations that they were being held hostage to pressure their fugitive male relatives to surrender.

A spokesman said the women were detained as insurgent suspects, not hostages. The latter would be a breach of international law, human rights experts say; it could, however, be legitimate to hold relatives as suspects in their own right."

Flawed FBI Probe Of Bombing Used A Secret Warrant
"The Justice Department is acknowledging for the first time that the FBI used a secret search warrant to copy and seize material -- including DNA samples -- from the home of Brandon Mayfield, a Portland, Ore., man who was wrongly arrested and jailed last year in connection with the March 2004 train bombings in Madrid.
But in a March 24 letter to Mayfield, sent as part of the ongoing lawsuit, the department acknowledged that during clandestine searches of his home the FBI made copies of computer drives and documents, and that 'ten DNA samples were taken and preserved on cotton swabs and six cigarette butts were seized for DNA analysis.' Authorities took approximately 355 digital photographs.

Finally, the letter said, 'Mr. Mayfield is also hereby notified that he was the target of electronic surveillance and other physical searches authorized pursuant to FISA' -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which governs such warrants and was expanded under the Patriot law."

Air Security Agency Faces Reduced Role
"Every morning, Stone begins a daily two- to four-hour intelligence meeting, in which he and 40 of his top managers review incident reports from the country's 429 major airports and from train, bus and trucking systems. They comb reports of evacuated terminals, unruly passengers and unattended bags, looking for the next big threat.

Travelers, airport workers and flight crew members involved in incidents are nominated to the government's 'watch lists,' meaning they will be singled out for extra screening the next time they arrive at an airport. So-called 'selectees' wind up on the agency's secret list because they disrupted a flight -- not necessarily because they are viewed as terrorists. For at least six months, the selectees will be pulled aside for extra scrutiny every time they fly. Several thousand names are believed to be on the list."

Big Brother monitors your cable or satellite TV

April 4, 2005

Prisoners clash with guards at major detention facility in southern Iraq

Compensation for Fallujah residents slow
"Doctor Hafid al-Dulaimi, director of the Commission for the Compensation of Fallujah Citizens (CCFC), established by the government, told IRIN that a study had been carried to assess the scale of destruction. He reported 36,000 destroyed homes in all districts of Fallujah, along with 8,400 shops.

Al-Dulaimi pointed out that 60 children's nurseries, primary and secondary schools and colleges were destroyed and 65 mosques and religious sanctuaries were almost demolished by the attack, with 13 government buildings requiring new infrastructure."

Fury at 'shoot for fun' memo
"Emails seen by The Observer reveal that employees of Blackwater Security were recently sent a message stating that 'actually it is "fun" to shoot some people.' Dated 7 March and bearing the name of Blackwater's president, Gary Jackson, the electronic newsletter adds that terrorists 'need to get creamed, and it's fun, meaning satisfying, to do the shooting of such folk.'"
Guess there's just no end to 'doing good'...

Drivers die in Afghan ambush
"Suspected Taliban fighters ambushed a convoy of civilian trucks carrying vehicles to the US military in southern Afghanistan, killing eight of the drivers."

Fierce clashes rage in Saudi Arabia
"In a third day of clashes, Saudi security forces have reportedly killed two of the most wanted insurgents in the country."

Gunmen Kill at Least 27 in Brazil Attacks
"At least 27 people were killed in two impoverished suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, in what was suspected to be the work of vengeful police officers."

U.S. court approved record number of terror warrants last year
"The government requested and won approval for a record number of special warrants last year for secret wiretaps and searches of suspected terrorists and spies, 75 percent more than in 2000, the Bush administration disclosed Friday."

Gonzales to Defend Patriot Act Renewal
"Those warrants - which will not expire in December - allow federal officials to search suspects' homes without telling them until later. The Justice Department said federal prosecutors have asked for 155 such warrants since 2001."

Alma Mater As Big Brother
"A proposal by the Education Department would force every college and university in America to report all their students' Social Security numbers and other information about each individual -- including credits earned, degree plan, race and ethnicity, and grants and loans received -- to a national databank. The government will record every student, regardless of whether he or she receives federal aid, in the databank.

The government's plan is to track students individually and in full detail as they complete their post-secondary education. The threat to our students' privacy is of grave concern, and the government has not satisfactorily explained why it wants to collect individual information.
Under the proposal that will soon be submitted to Congress, instead of aggregate statistics, colleges and universities would be required to feed data on each student to the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics. Should an institution refuse, the government could take away federal grants, loans and work-study funds from every student at the college..."

Ex-Aide Says Faith-Based Giving Ignored
"In testimony prepared for a hearing on charities, David Kuo, former deputy director at the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, also criticized Republican efforts to repeal the estate tax because of its potential drain on charitable giving.
Kuo also said estimates show that a full repeal of the estate tax could cost the charitable sector more than $10 billion each year. The estate tax leads wealthy individuals to contribute to charities because the donations reduce their estate tax liability."

Wikipedia victim of onslaught of April Fool's jokes

April 1, 2005  All Fool's Day

Violence claims more lives in Iraq

India to resume talks for Iranian pipeline
"The project, which was conceived a decade ago, has been delayed by strained relations between India and Pakistan. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of the United States said in New Delhi on March 16 that the United States had "concerns" about India's plan to buy gas from Iran."

US firms can be sued for 'Iraq fraud'
"Although much of the money the CPA used was seized from Saddam's government, US government or military workers distributed it on behalf of the CPA. That makes fraud against the CPA equivalent to fraud against the United States, Justice Department lawyers said in a court brief.

The brief came in response to US District Judge TS Ellis III, who is hearing a fraud lawsuit against the security firm Custer Battles LLC. Two former employees are suing Custer Battles, saying the firm cheated the CPA out of about $50 million. The company denies wrongdoing."

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