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April 2007

Amnesty condemns rise in Iraqi executions
"Iraq is now the fourth highest user of the death penalty in the world, an Amnesty International report said today.

The campaign group, which condemned the executions, said there had been a rapid acceleration in its use since the current Iraqi government took control in 2004.
Amnesty said only three countries - China, Iran and Pakistan - executed more people."

Secret paper reveals Labour's lies over ID cards   (UK)
"Whitehall papers, which the Government has fought for two years to suppress, disclose that Labour intended to force the public to sign up to the programme.

They appear to contradict commitments given by Labour in its 2005 Election manifesto, which pledged that the cards, and the national identity register containing people's names, addresses, fingerprints and other information, would be 'on a voluntary basis'."

Vigilantes impose peace in Rio slums
"In this city of 6 million people, one of the world's most violent, 'the police provide security for the rich' and 'the militias are the security of the poor,' said Marina Maggessi, a congresswoman and a former senior drug-control official. She has mixed feelings about the militias, saying they represent the 'collapse of the state.'

First gaining strength in 2003 as an alternative to ineffective, often corrupt police, the illegal security forces have mushroomed since late last year and now control about 90 of Rio's 600 'favelas,' Maggessi said. Success in slums like Roquete Pinto, meanwhile, fuels their expansion into others."

Venezuela staggers under Easter booze ban
"'In the working class areas there is no alcohol ban,' said one bar owner in the central district of Chacao. 'The police won't go in there because the delinquents are better armed than they are.'

Pedro Carreno, the interior and justice minister in the government of firebrand socialist President Hugo Chavez, has championed the ban, insisting: 'You don't have to have alcohol to have a good time.'"

82 Inmates Cleared but Still Held at Guantanamo
"More than a fifth of the approximately 385 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been cleared for release but may have to wait months or years for their freedom because U.S. officials are finding it increasingly difficult to line up places to send them, according to Bush administration officials and defense lawyers.

Since February, the Pentagon has notified about 85 inmates or their attorneys that they are eligible to leave after being cleared by military review panels. But only a handful have gone home, including a Moroccan and an Afghan who were released Tuesday. Eighty-two remain at Guantanamo and face indefinite waits as U.S. officials struggle to figure out when and where to deport them, and under what conditions."

Administration Seeks to Expand Surveillance Law
"The proposed revisions to FISA would also allow the government to keep information obtained 'unintentionally,' unrelated to the purpose of the surveillance, if it 'contains significant foreign intelligence.' Currently such information is destroyed unless it indicates threat of death or serious bodily harm.

And they provide for compelling telecommunications companies and e-mail providers to cooperate with investigations while protecting them from being sued by their subscribers. The legal protection would be applied retroactively to those companies that cooperated with the government after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."

Party-issued laptops now a White House headache
"Waxman told RNC Chairman Mike Duncan in a letter that such exchanges 'indicated that in some instances White House officials were using nongovernment accounts specifically to avoid creating a record of communications' that could be reviewed by congressional committees or released under the Presidential Records Act.

Lawyers for the committees say that use of campaign-connected e-mail addresses may make it easier to gather information because it would be harder for the White House to make a broad claim of executive privilege. Lawyers for congressional Democrats have anticipated that the White House will invoke executive privilege in an effort to block requests for information about its role in the firing of U.S. attorneys, Abramoff and other matters."

Feinstein Leaves Senate Defense Panel Amid Controversy
"Government watchdog groups want more answers as to why Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) stepped down from a military appropriations subcommittee at a time questions were being asked billions of dollars in federal defense contracts going to her husband's companies."

2,176 Secret Warrants Issued in 2006
"But in its three-page public report, sent to Senate and House leaders, the Justice Department said it could not yet provide data on how many times the FBI secretly sought telephone, Internet and banking records about U.S. citizens and residents without court approval.

The department is still compiling those numbers amid an internal investigation of the FBI's improper - and in some cases illegal - use of so-called national security letters. The letters are administrative subpoenas that do not require a judge's approval."

Inspector Lists Computers With Atomic Secrets as Missing
"The office in charge of protecting American technical secrets about nuclear weapons from foreign spies is missing 20 desktop computers, at least 14 of which have been used for classified information, the Energy Department inspector general reported on Friday."
This NYT link may require site registration. may offer an alternative - and the full text may also be found here.

Representatives okay Real ID ban
"The New Hampshire House voted overwhelmingly yesterday to reject the federal Real ID Act as amounting to the creation of a national ID card.

The House voted 268-8 to send the bill to the Senate. The legislation would bar the state from complying with a federal act that sets standards for driver's licenses.

Gov. John Lynch has said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk."

Gov signs law rejecting Real ID act
"The bill the governor signed rejected implementing the Real ID act in Montana, a federal law that sets a national standard for driver's licenses and requires states to link their record-keeping systems to national databases."

Disk With Data on 2.9M Georgians Lost
"A computer disk containing the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of 2.9 million Medicaid and children's health care recipients is missing, Georgia health officials said Tuesday."

Lenders Misusing Student Database
"Some lending companies with access to a national database that contains confidential information on tens of millions of student borrowers have repeatedly searched it in ways that violate federal rules, raising alarms about data mining and abuse of privacy, government and university officials said.

The improper searching has grown so pervasive that officials said the Education Department is considering a temporary shutdown of the government-run database to review access policies and tighten security. Some worry that businesses are trolling for marketing data they can use to bombard students with mass mailings or other solicitations."

Selling stuff online? Here comes the IRS
"The U.S. Treasury Department wants Congress to force auction sites like eBay, and to turn over the identities and Social Security numbers of a large portion of their users to the IRS--so tax collectors know how much each person made through online selling.
Heller, the IRS panel chairman, said in an interview this week: 'Since eBay has all of the information, knows that a transaction has been consummated, knows who the seller is, and the seller is registered, then it would be appropriate for them to report the final transaction. They can track by taxpayer ID number how many transactions the seller does. Since they do have all that information, it would be appropriate for them to file a 1099.'"

Documents Reveal: Cops Planted Pot on 92-Year Old Woman They Killed in Botched Drug Raid
"Atlanta resident Kathryn Johnston's death has finally been exposed to be a case of police coverup in clear example of the insanity of the war on drugs."

Kline says arrest of hospital workers possible with DUI policy
"Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline has adopted a policy calling for hospitals to draw blood from unwilling patients who are suspects in serious alcohol-related traffic accidents.

Kline said his office would try to get search warrants for the blood from judges by telephone. But if the warrants cannot be obtained in a timely manner, he said, he expected hospitals to draw the blood anyway."
This story at the linked location above is already down the 403 memory hole. Research with a search engine or news index will draw up other references to this story and subsequent relevant events. I notice that Lawrence Talyor at the DUI Blog took note of this story also.

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