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June 30, 2006
Cast a vote, win $1 million: Initiative makes ballot (AZ)
"The state on Thursday certified the first citizens' initiative for the November ballot. The unusual proposal would randomly award $1 million to a voter.
Tucson ophthalmologist and political activist Mark Osterloh, who launched the initiative, had 149,448 signatures certified, well above the required 122,612 signatures."
June 29, 2006
Taking DNA Pre-Conviction Widely Accepted
"Hoping to solve and prevent more crimes, the federal government and a growing number of states are casting the DNA net wider by taking genetic samples from people accused but not convicted of breaking the law."
"Meyerle is patenting a design for a modified cartridge that would be fired by a burst of high-frequency radio energy. But the energy would only ignite the charge if a solid-state switch within the cartridge had been activated. This would only happen if a password entered into the gun using a tiny keypad matched one stored in the cartridge.
When they are sold, cartridges could be programmed with a password that matches the purchaser's gun. An owner could set the gun to request the password when it is reloaded, or to perform a biometric check before firing. The gun could also automatically lock itself after a pre-set period of time has passed since the password was entered.
The system would undoubtedly cost more than a conventional gun, but many firearm enthusiasts would surely pay a premium for such added security."
Ummmm - no.
June 27, 2006
Rebuilding Not Yet Reality for Fallujah
"One and a half years after the November 2004 U.S. military assault on Fallujah, residents tell of ongoing suffering, lack of jobs, little reconstruction and continuing violence."
Residents Struggle to Survive, In and Out of Ramadi
"As the threat of a giant U.S. military operation in Ramadi lingers and sporadic clashes plague the city daily, residents struggle to cope, both inside and outside the sealed city.
The operation is part of a renewed crackdown on what the Pentagon says is a stronghold of the Sunni Arab resistance. As the threat of an all-out U.S. attack on the city looms, Imad Al-Muhammadi with the Iraqi Red Crescent in Ramadi told IPS, 'Ramadi is a lot more difficult than the Fallujah crisis because people cannot flee to Baghdad and many other cities due to the threat of sectarian death squads, so it is very difficult to provide them with safe shelter at a reasonable distance from the military operations.'"
Secret U.S. Program Tracks Global Bank Transfers
"The U.S. government, without the knowledge of many banks and their customers, has engaged for years in a secret effort to track terrorist financing by accessing a vast database of confidential information on transfers of money between banks worldwide.
Under this effort, Treasury routinely acquires information about bank transfers from the world's largest financial communication network, which is run by a consortium of financial institutions called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT.
The SWIFT network carries up to 12.7 million messages a day containing instructions on many of the international transfers of money between banks. The messages typically include the names and account numbers of bank customers - from U.S. citizens to major corporations - who are sending or receiving funds."
Supreme Court upholds no-knock police search
Indictment reveals little hard evidence of terrorist plot
"Seven of the men were definitely up to no good, authorities say. According to a federal indictment unsealed Friday, they were a cadre of al-Qaida wannabes who planned to create an 'Islamic army' and 'wage a full ground war' on the United States by blowing up the Sears Tower in Chicago and FBI offices in Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C.
But, long on ambition, they were short on success. They acquired combats boots, a cell phone, a camera and some cash, but never stockpiled explosives, carried out a mission nor posed any real threat.
They also had another major problem. The al-Qaida representative who allegedly told them he had come 'from overseas' to evaluate and finance their jihad was actually a government informant, authorities said."
AMA: Health insurance should be required
Second Amendment Foundation's Lawsuit Successful, Overturns San Francisco Handgun Ban
"The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) said Monday’s decision by the Superior Court in San Francisco to throw out that city’s handgun ban was a victory for gun owner rights all over the Golden State.
'The right of citizens to be safe in their homes and communities can never be subject to a popular vote,' said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. 'This ruling shows that the politicians who pushed this gun ban were wrong.'"
Rhode Island police seek open access to Internet, phone records
"Critics like Bankston say under the proposed legislation, the only standard the police would need to get a customer's information is an assertion by a police chief that the information is necessary for an investigation. Bank and credit card information could also be included to show means of payment for phone or Internet services, critics say.
State police say going before a judge to get a warrant can be time-consuming and cumbersome."
Kyl bill targets Net child porn, touts Web labels
"Much of the Stop Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Youth Act, or Internet SAFETY Act, introduced by Kyl on Tuesday, is based on recommendations of the Justice Department. In May, the department issued a report declaring that the Internet is helping to fuel 'an epidemic of child pornography.'
For a definition of 'sexually explicit,' the bill borrows from existing federal law. It covers sexual intercourse, bestiality, masturbation, sadistic or masochistic abuse, or lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person.
Co-sponsors of the bill are Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas; George Allen, R-Va.; Conrad Burns, R-Mont.; Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas; Olympia Snowe, R-Maine; Mike DeWine, R-Ohio; Charles Grassley, R-Iowa; and Sam Brownback, R-Kansas."
VoIP wiretapping could lead to more problems
AT&T says it owns data on file
Hacker enters Agriculture dept. computers
"A hacker broke into the Agriculture Department's computer system and may have obtained names, Social Security numbers and photos of 26,000 Washington-area employees and contractors, the department said Wednesday."
AIG: Personal data on 970,000 lost in burglary
"Insurance giant American International Group said on Friday that it has lost personal identifying information on about 970,000 consumers through a burglary at an undisclosed office in the Midwest.
The insurer said the break-in occurred March 31 and that it alerted police to the loss of a laptop computer and a file server with insurance applicants' personal records. But the company acknowledged that it has not yet alerted consumers about their possible vulnerability to identity thieves. AIG said it plans to mail out advisories to the affected consumers by the end of this week."
Laptop With D.C. Workers' Data Stolen
"A laptop containing the Social Security numbers and other personal data of 13,000 District of Columbia employees and retirees has been stolen, officials said."
Government Orders Spy Blimp
"The government has hired defense subcontractor Lockheed Martin to design and develop an enormous blimp that will be used to spy on Americans, according to the Athens News. Government agencies such as the NSA are anticipating that as early as 2009 the blimp will be operational and begin supporting new ways of monitoring everything that happens in the country.
The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command has already conducted a study to determine some of the uses of the spy ship. It has the capability of monitoring an area 600 miles in diameter at a time with surveillance equipment, such as high-resolution cameras. The government has ordered 11 of them - enough to monitor every parcel of land in the U.S."
More about the High Altitude Airship from GlobalSecurity.org
Digital camera blocking technology created
"Georgia Institute of Technology scientists say they've created a prototype device that can block digital video cameras from working in a specific area.
The scientists say the prototype - which could be used to stymie unwanted use of video or still cameras - uses off-the-shelf equipment to scan for, find and neutralize digital cameras. The system works by looking for the reflectivity and shape of the image-producing sensors used in digital cameras."
Group protests Dead members' Bohemian Club membership
"The Bohemian Grove Action Network, however, plans to give Weir an earful. The activists who protest the gathering of the Bohemian Club's all-male political elite and movers and shakers at the Bohemian Grove near Monte Rio each July claim Weir and former Dead percussionist Mickey Hart joined what they call 'the Evil Empire' years ago.
Hart bunks in the Hillbillies Camp with George Bush Sr. and Donald Rumsfeld and Weir resides in Rattlers Camp with Edmund Littlefield Jr., whose father is the former CEO of General Electric, Moore said."
Just playing in the band, I suppose?
Tensions run high in forest
"The Rainbow Family peace gathering turned hostile Tuesday when a group of attendees began hurling rocks and sticks at law enforcement officers, U.S. Forest Service officials said.
The incident forced the officers to abandon a checkpoint they had established near the entrance to the Rainbow gathering campsite in North Routt County, Forest Service spokeswoman Diann Ritschard said. Officers had not returned to the checkpoint as of Tuesday afternoon."
Let me bring you songs from the wood, to make you feel much better than you could know...
Clowns Sabotage Nuke Missile
"The activists used bolt-cutters to get into the E-9 Minuteman II facility, located just northwest of the White Shield, North Dakota. 'Using a sledgehammer and household hammers, they disabled the lock on the personnel entry hatch that provides access to the warhead and they hammered on the silo lid that covers the 300 kiloton nuclear warhead,' the group said in a statement. 'The activists painted It's a sin to build a nuclear weapon on the face of the 110-ton hardened silo cover and the peace activists poured their blood on the missile lid.'
This was all done while wearing face paint, dunce caps, misfitting overalls, and bright yellow wigs.
Guards responded within minutes. And when they arrived, the protesters 'ate a lot of gravel,' I'm told."
Can't 'secure' shit - but still capable of wielding that ole jackboot - I feel safer already!
June 12, 2006
Iraqis accuse Marines of killing unarmed civilian
"Before people talked about how Hashim Ibrahim Awad was killed, his friends shared tales about how the Americans wanted him to be an informant.
U.S. Marines had approached him several times, Awad's friends say he told them, asking him to help them find who was planting explosives in this small village outside Baghdad. Every time, Awad, in his 50s with a lame leg and bad eyesight, refused. His family considered the job shameful.
In an exclusive interview with Knight Ridder on Friday, Awad's family gave their version of what happened to him in the early morning hours of April 26. They said U.S. Marines dragged Awad from his home, killed him and then planted an AK-47 assault rifle and a shovel next to him to make him look like a terrorist."
U.S. commanders knew Haditha deaths from gunfire
"Marine commanders in Iraq knew within two days of the killings in Haditha in November that gunfire, not a roadside bomb, had killed Iraqi civilians but they saw no reason to investigate further, The New York Times reported on Saturday."
America's robot army
"Military omniscience is the starting point. Three months ago Tony Tether, director of the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), the Pentagon's research arm, described to a US Senate committee the frustration felt by officers in Iraq after a mortar-bomb attack. A camera in a drone, or unmanned aircraft, spotted the attackers fleeing and helped direct US helicopters to the scene to destroy their car - but not before some of those inside had got out. 'We had to decide whether to follow those individuals or the car,' he said, 'because we simply didn't have enough coverage available.' So some of the insurgents escaped. Tether drew this moral: 'We need a network, or web, of sensors to better map a city and the activities in it, including inside buildings, to sort adversaries and their equipment from civilians and their equipment, including in crowds, and to spot snipers, suicide bombers or IEDs [improvised explosive devices] . . . This is not just a matter of more and better sensors, but, just as important, the systems needed to make actionable intelligence out of all the data.'"
Israel introduces new travel restrictions
Guantanamo suicides 'acts of war'
"The camp commander said the two Saudis and a Yemeni were 'committed' and had killed themselves in 'an act of asymmetric warfare waged against us'."
One thousand UK troops AWOL in Iraq
Two brothers held in armed raid on home released without charge
"The two brothers arrested last week in an anti-terror raid on a house in east London, in which one was shot, were released without charge last night after police failed to find any link to an alleged biological terror plot."
Doubts grow over threat behind UK anti-terror police raid
Canada Police Use Sting in Terror Arrests
"The Royal Canadian Mounted Police itself delivered three tons of potential bomb-making material to a group that authorities said wanted to launch a string of attacks inspired by al-Qaida, according to a news report Sunday.
The Toronto Star said the sting unfolded when investigators delivered the ammonium nitrate to the group of Muslim Canadians, then moved in quickly on what officials called a homegrown terror ring."
FBI, informants said to exchange favors
Defense lawyers shut out as war on terror spawns courtroom secrecy
"Such secret procedures, once rare in American courts, have become more common since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Prosecutors say they need secrecy to protect undercover agents, informants and witnesses from terrorist reprisals and keep critical information pipelines from being shut down.
But defense attorneys say the right of defendants to confront their accusers, guaranteed by the 6th Amendment to the Constitution, is being worn away under the guise of national security."
'No-work list' predicted
"As Congress debates immigration reform, experts say a little-discussed aspect of the bill, mandatory employee eligibility verification, is likely to have a colossal impact on the lives of every person in the U.S. labor market - citizen and foreigner alike.
'Everyone who wants to work will feel this provision,' said Tim Sparapani, legal counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. 'People are just beginning to understand the implications of it, and they're big.'"
Data Theft Affected Most in Military
"Social Security numbers and other personal information for as many as 2.2 million U.S. military personnel -- including nearly 80 percent of the active-duty force - were among the data stolen from the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs analyst last month, federal officials said yesterday, raising concerns about national security as well as identity theft.
The department announced that personal data for as many as 1.1 million active-duty military personnel, 430,000 National Guard members and 645,000 reserve members may have been included on an electronic file stolen May 3 from a department employee's house in Aspen Hill. The data include names, birth dates and Social Security numbers, VA spokesman Matt Burns said."
Pentagon sets its sights on social networking websites
"New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon's National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology - specifically the forthcoming 'semantic web' championed by the web standards organisation W3C - to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals."
Appeals Court Sides With White House on Wiretaps
"Companies that provide Web-based telecommunications services must allow wiretapping by law enforcement officials, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday."
Riley says he'll confiscate weapons if disaster strikes, gun rights activists outraged
"In an interview with WWL Radio, Riley said his officers would seize guns from people on the streets if another storm was to hit New Orleans.
'During a circumstance like that, we cannot allow people to walk the street carrying guns...as law enforcement officers we will confiscate the weapon if a person is walking down the street and they may be arrested,' Riley said."
Riley Backs Down on New Orleans Gun Grab After SAF Calls for Investigation