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May 2007

U.S. orders more spy towers for Iraq
"The $10 million contract option announced Thursday provides the Army with 16 of Raytheon's RAID towers for deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan later this year.

Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment towers are equipped with remote-control infrared sensors that can cast an unblinking eye on wide areas and detect enemy forces that may be skulking around in the darkness. The surveillance allows U.S. commanders to respond to ambushes and other threats.

The towers can be built as high as 100 feet and have been in service in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. While the towers offer opportunities for target practice by insurgents, the systems are 'ruggedized' and include a self-defense mechanism that protects the tower base from tampering."
Don't think this might be a taste of your future living in the Land of Those Hated for Their Freedom... think again.

New detainees strain Iraq’s jails
"Nearly 20,000 people were in Iraqi-run prisons, detention camps, police stations and other holding cells as of the end of March, according to a U.N. report issued last month, an increase of more than 3,500 from the end of January. The U.S. military said late last week that it was holding about 19,500 detainees, up more than 3,000 since the U.S. and Iraqi governments began implementing the security plan in mid-February.
'The reason why there's more detainees is because there's more forces on the ground, both Iraqi and coalition, out there doing operations. So you've got more people to go out and detain them,' said Brig. Gen. Joseph Anderson, chief of staff for the top American military field commander in Iraq. 'The bottom line is we have more than we can handle collectively.'"

Pakistan set to declare state of emergency
"President Musharraf could declare a state of emergency in Pakistan amid growing civil unrest against his increasingly embattled regime.

Security forces were placed on high alert yesterday, detaining hundreds of activists on the eve of an anti-government rally in Karachi. Rival demonstrations are planned by supporters of General Musharraf, raising fears of violent clashes in the southern port city today."

Scandal-linked Japanese minister kills himself
"Japan's farm minister committed suicide Monday hours before he was expected to face questions in parliament in a scandal over political donations and rigged contracts, officials said.

Toshikatsu Matsuoka was found unconscious in a residence for lawmakers and rushed to hospital where he died.

News reports said the 62-year-old hanged himself while in his pyjamas using a dog leash attached to his living room door."

Second suicide in corruption scandal
"A former executive implicated in a bid-rigging scandal jumped to his death from an apartment block yesterday, only 24 hours after a government minister committed suicide on the eve of an inquiry into corruption.

Shinichi Yamazaki was wearing pyjamas when he plunged from his building into a car park in Yokohama, west of Tokyo. Mr Yamazaki, 76, was a former director of a government-affiliated agency that allegedly rigged contracts for public forestry projects for the benefit of political donors of Toshikatsu Matsuoka, the former Agriculture Minister."

China's former top drug regulator gets death penalty
"In an unusually harsh sentence, a court Tuesday ordered the death penalty for the disgraced former head of the nation's food and drug agency, making a show of China's resolve to crack down on public health violations.

Zheng Xiaoyu was found guilty of taking bribes and dereliction of duty, according to the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate Court. He's the highest-ranking Chinese official to get the death penalty since 2000."

ACLU: Boeing Offshoot Helped CIA
"The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday it is suing Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing Co. (BA), claiming it provided secret CIA transportation services to shuttle three terrorism suspects overseas, where they were tortured."

National ID: Biometrics Pinned to Social Security Cards
"The leading immigration proposal with traction in Congress would force employers to accept only a very limited range of approved documents as proof of work eligibility, including a driver's license that meets new federal Real ID standards, a high-tech temporary work visa or a U.S. passport with an RFID chip. A fourth option is the notional tamper-proof biometric Social Security card, which would replace the text-only design that's been issued to Americans almost without change for more than 70 years.

A second proposal under consideration would add high-tech features to the Social Security card allowing employers to scan it with specially equipped laptop computers. Under that proposal, called the 'Bonner Plan,' the revamped Social Security card would be the only legal form of identification for employment purposes."

Work bill would create new ID database
"The so-called Employment Eligibility Verification System would be established as part of a bill that senators began debating on Monday, a procedure that is likely to continue through June and would represent the most extensive rewrite of immigration and visa laws in a generation. Because anyone who fails a database check would be out of a job, the proposed database already has drawn comparisons with the 'no-fly list' and is being criticized by civil libertarians and business groups.

All employers - at least 7 million, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - would be required to verify identity documents provided by both existing employees and potential hires, the legislation says. The data, including Social Security numbers, would be provided to Homeland Security, on penalty of perjury, and the government databases would provide a work authorization confirmation within three business days."

Revolt against new U.S. ID card grows
"New Hampshire on Thursday joined a growing list of states to reject a controversial U.S. identification card that opponents say will cost billions of dollars to administer and present a risk to privacy.

The Democratic-controlled state Senate approved legislation to prohibit the Real ID program in a 24-0 vote, and Gov. John Lynch said he would sign the bill, which passed the state House of Representatives on April 6.

New Hampshire becomes the 13th state to oppose the identification card. Another 22 states are considering similar legislation or resolutions to reject it, according to the American Civil Liberties Union."

Man Accused of Running 'Warehouse Bank'
"A man operated a 'warehouse bank' out of his home in the south Seattle suburbs, taking at least $28 million from people around the country who wanted the discretion of a Swiss bank account without going to Switzerland, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

Robert Arant, of Des Moines, had hundreds of customers, many of whom apparently used the bank to conceal assets for the purpose of evading taxes, IRS agent Susan Killingsworth wrote in a sworn declaration. U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman issued a preliminary injunction last month freezing the assets of his bank, Olympic Business Systems LLC."

TSA Loses Hard Drive With Personal Info
"The Transportation Security Administration has lost a computer hard drive containing Social Security numbers, bank data and payroll information for about 100,000 employees."

US Government Forces E-gold Redemptions - Seizes Gold
"In an unprecedented move on or just before Wednesday May 9th, 2007, the United States of America has forced Omnipay et al E-gold to redeem all the gold backing the 58 previously frozen accounts owned by e-gold, 1mdc, icegold and a handful of other exchangers and customers to be liquidated effective immediately to a us dollar account owned by the federal government."
Related: E-gold Criminal Case Unsealed. USA Moves To Seize Company In Its Entirety.

Internet Calls Subject To Phone Tapping
"Companies that provide Internet phone service have just six days to meet a deadline from the Justice Department. By next Monday, they'll have to make their systems easier to tap. That's right - make it easier to secretly listen in on your phone calls, or face daily fines of $10,000 dollars."

U.S. town opposes "Big Brother" Mexico border fence
"A pilot project to place a high-tech network of surveillance towers along a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border has met boisterous opposition in this Arizona town, where some residents call it 'Big Brother.'

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is installing a network of nine towers with ground radar and night vision cameras to monitor a 28-mile (45-km) stretch of border near Arivaca, southwest of Tucson.

It is the first trial for the communications and technology arm of the government's Secure Border Initiative announced in 2005. Dubbed 'SBInet,' authorities say it will be extended across some 6,000 miles of the Mexican and Canadian borders in segments in coming years."

US to Meatpackers: Don't Do Mad Cow Test
"The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The Agriculture Department tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. But Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.
A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. The ruling was to take effect June 1, but the Agriculture Department said Tuesday it would appeal - effectively delaying the testing until the court challenge plays out."

'Secret cases' opened by feds
"About a third of the U.S. federal courts use an electronic docketing practice that has concealed the existence of hundreds of civil and criminal cases.

The widespread secrecy was disclosed recently by the U.S. Judicial Conference in Washington, D.C., as part of an effort to eliminate what it has called 'the appearance of a secret docket' in U.S. courts. Last month, the conference urged courts to change the way cases are docketed to acknowledge the existence of every case that's filed."

Sacramento: Assembly OKs micro-stamp on some guns
"In an effort to curb deadly gun violence, the state Assembly on Tuesday passed a bill that would make California the first in the nation to require a mechanism inside semiautomatic pistols to stamp information that would help authorities track down criminals.
The measure, AB1471, would require starting in 2010 that all semiautomatic pistols sold in California contain a mechanism to stamp the gun's make, model and serial number on the shell casing of the bullet every time the weapon is fired."

Street lockdowns proposed for Baltimore
"A city council leader, alarmed by Baltimore's rising homicide rate, wants to give the mayor the power to put troubled neighborhoods under virtual lockdown.
Under Curran's plan, the mayor could declare 'public safety act zones,' which would allow police to close liquor stores and bars, limit the number of people on city sidewalks, and halt traffic during two-week intervals.

Police would be encouraged to aggressively stop and frisk individuals in those zones to search for weapons and drugs."

Gas station owner told to raise prices
"A service station that offered discounted gas to senior citizens and people supporting youth sports has been ordered by the state to raise its prices. Center City BP owner Raj Bhandari has been offering senior citizens a 2 cent per gallon price break and discount cards that let sports boosters pay 3 cents less per gallon.

But the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says those deals are too good: They violate Wisconsin's Unfair Sales Act, which requires stations to sell gas for about 9.2 percent more than the wholesale price."

Man accidentally shoots himself without a gun
"Damion M. Mosher, who put bullets in a vise and whacked them with a hammer to empty the brass shell casings, was hit in the abdomen by one of the shots, authorities said.

Warren County deputies said they were called to Mosher's home in Lake Luzerne on Saturday afternoon after one bullet went about a half-inch into his abdomen. He was treated at Glens Falls Hospital and was released. No charges were filed.

Mosher, 18, told authorities he was trying to empty the .223-caliber rounds to collect the brass casings for scrap."

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