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August 2006

August 28, 2006

Two Iraqi units have refused deployment
And people say there's no good news from Iraq!
First it's just one or two - and then there were none!

F - IW

Ryanair threatens government over airport security
"Ryanair today threatened to sue the government for compensation unless airport security measures are returned to normal within seven days.

Michael O'Leary, the outspoken chief executive of Ryanair, described the new restrictions as 'farcical Keystone Cops security measures that don't add anything except to block up airports', as he issued the ultimatum.
Ryanair, which says it has lost 2m from cancelled flights, has written to the secretary of state for transport, asking him to immediately restore the security measures at Britain's airports to 'normal' standards in 'order to get Britain's airports and airlines moving again'".
More from Ryanair here.
(Waaaarrning - here there be Fuzzybits!)

Blair's ID card plan undermined by security breaches

Feds appeal ruling on surveillance
"The Justice Department launched an appeal within hours of a federal judge's ruling that, for the first time, struck down President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program as an unconstitutional infringement on the right to privacy and free speech.
While siding with the ACLU on the surveillance issue, Taylor dismissed a separate claim by the group over NSA data-mining of phone records. She said not enough had been publicly revealed about that program to support the claim and further litigation would jeopardize state secrets."

Rumsfeld Says Terrorists Manipulate Media
"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday he is deeply troubled by the success of terrorist groups in 'manipulating the media' to influence Westerners.
'They are actively manipulating the media in this country' by, for example, falsely blaming U.S. troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said."
Wily stiffs - asymetrical warfare - no doubt.

Guilty plea in kickback scheme
"A former U.S. Army Reserve officer admitted Friday that he steered millions of dollars in Iraq-reconstruction contracts in exchange for jewelry, computers, cigars and sexual favors."

US sues Maine officials for probe on Verizon, NSA
"The U.S. government sued Maine officials on Tuesday to block their demand that Verizon disclose whether it gave the government's spying program access to its customer data, documents showed."

Court rules 2003 money seizure correct despite no drugs found
"A federal judge in Nebraska said the evidence was not strong enough to link the money to drug trafficking, but the 8th Circuit Court on Thursday disagreed.

'We believe that the evidence as a whole demonstrates ... that there was a substantial connection between the currency and a drug trafficking offense,' the court wrote. 'We have adopted the commonsense view that bundling and concealment of large amounts of currency, combined with other suspicious circumstances, supports a connection between money and drug trafficking.'"

Ky. court will consider if police can lie
"Today, as a result, the Kentucky Supreme Court will hear arguments on an issue it has never addressed: Whether a defendant's consent to a search can ever be 'voluntary' - as required for a search without a warrant - when it is the product of a police officer's deceit and misrepresentation."
I think it's well understood that they can lie - the issue is whether they may lie...

Crop Cops Take to the Sky
"Farmers may seem like trustworthy people, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking no chances. It's spending tens of millions of dollars to create an enormous computerized map of every farmer's field in America. The program is intended to make sure farmers are doing what's required to earn their government subsidies."

Teacher's flag burning inflames many
"A Stuart Middle School teacher has been removed from the classroom after he burned two American flags in class Friday as part of a civics lesson, according to Jefferson County Public Schools officials."

Teacher showing foreign flags put on leave
"A seventh-grade geography teacher who refused to remove Chinese, Mexican and United Nations flags from his classroom was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday by Jefferson County officials who were concerned that the display violates the law."
Not such a small world after all...

Under Fire! U.S. Army Intelligence Analyst Targeted For Suggesting New Independent 9/11 Investigation
"According to unnamed military sources contacted by The Iconoclast, SFC Buswell 'used his Government issued email account to send messages disloyal to the United States...' Because of these statements, SFC Buswell could soon find himself dishonorably discharged, court martialed, or worse."
Curious ideas this man's father has about Abe Lincoln...?!

"Murder in Samarkand" confiscated by Luton airport security

August 19, 2006

Israel Asks U.S. to Ship Rockets With Wide Blast
"Israel has asked the Bush administration to speed delivery of short-range antipersonnel rockets armed with cluster munitions, which it could use to strike Hezbollah missile sites in Lebanon, two American officials said Thursday.

The request for M-26 artillery rockets, which are fired in barrages and carry hundreds of grenade-like bomblets that scatter and explode over a broad area, is likely to be approved shortly, along with other arms, a senior official said."

Israel Pounds Border Crossings to Syria

Zimbabwe lifts fuel prices 1,300%

Zimbabwe: Much Ado About Money
"Zimbabweans were caught off-guard earlier this month when Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono introduced monetary reforms designed to rein in hyperinflation, which is hovering at about 1,000 percent. He set a three-week deadline for about Z$40 trillion (US$160 million) in old currency to be exchanged for a new denomination, and introduced a new official exchange rate of Z$250 to US$1, from the old official rate of Z$250,000 to the US dollar.

Individuals are only permitted to exchange Z$100 million (US$ 1,000 at the old official rate) daily, and companies were limited to Z$5 billion (US$50,000).
Roadblocks were set up soon after Gono announced his currency reforms, leading to the arrest of thousands of people and the confiscation of Z$10 trillion (US$40 million). Individuals carrying more than Z$100 million (US$1,000) were deemed to have accrued it illegally, unless they had receipts to prove otherwise.

As much as Z$35 trillion (US$140 million) was estimated to have been circulating outside of the banking system - in the last ten days or so the central bank has stopped issuing statements on how much money it has seized at roadblocks."

S Africa warns white farmers of expropriation
"South Africa has told white farmers it may seize their properties under the land restitution program if they fail to agree on a selling price within six months.

The program aims to hand back land or offer financial compensation to black people who were forcibly removed from their ancestral homes under apartheid.

It is part of efforts to correct skewed land ownership created under white minority rule.

President Thabo Mbeki's Government wants 30 per cent of farm land in black hands by 2014."

Swiss Court Lets U.S. Get Banking Info
"Swiss authorities will provide the United States with details from bank accounts U.S. investigators suspect of being used for terrorist funding, a Justice Ministry official said Wednesday.

Ministry spokesman Folco Galli said the documents will be handed over this month now that Switzerland's highest court has approved the transfer."

Recipients of "Leaks" May Be Prosecuted, Court Rules

9-11 Investigative Journalist Harassed And Beaten By Undercover Cops
"After calling 911 to report a suspicious vehicle with three armed men in my neighborhood, I was harassed, beaten and shocked with a Taser gun in my front yard in Hoffman Estates, Ill., in front of my wife and child. I was subsequently charged with resisting arrest and aggravated assault. I was then subjected to six hours of abuse at the hands of the local police."

Shooting victim remains uncooperative
"Police are investigating a shooting Thursday evening in south Wichita that left a 26-year-old man with a gunshot wound in the groin.

The shooting happened at about 7:30 p.m. in the 1000 block of South Wichita, Capt. Ken Atnip said. The victim refused repeated commands to raise his hands to where officers could see them, Atnip said, so an officer used his Taser to subdue the man."

Fla. Police Tape Is No Laughing Matter to Protester
"A newly surfaced videotape that shows Broward Sheriff's Office officials laughing over footage of Ritter being shot by rubber bullets and calling protesters 'cockroaches' has sparked outrage and prompted an apology from law enforcement." Shutting Down U.S.-Targeted Operations
"BetOnSports PLC, the British-based Internet gambling company that has been charged with fraud and racketeering in the United States, said Friday it will shut down its services for American gamblers."

Cobb County police recruit class fired for cheating
"Cobb County Police dismissed an entire class of 20 recruits on Monday after they were accused of cheating on a test at the police academy."

Town Gives Teen's Worm Biz The Hook
"Town Planner Craig Minor said town regulations are vague on businesses such as lemonade and farm stands. In his opinion, the stands are allowed because they are considered customary use of property - just like a backyard barbecue, which doesn't require an assembly permit, or a doghouse that doesn't need special approval.

But the zoning regulations, he acknowledged, do not explicitly allow Joe's night crawler placard."

August 10, 2006

U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis

Feds sharpen secret tools for data mining
"At least five of the data-mining programs were developed under a Pentagon program, called Total Information Awareness (TIA), that Congress disbanded nearly three years ago because of concerns that it threatened personal privacy, according to government records and participants in the projects."

White House Proposal Would Expand Authority of Military Courts
"The draft proposed legislation, set to be discussed at two Senate hearings today, is controversial inside and outside the administration because defendants would be denied many protections guaranteed by the civilian and traditional military criminal justice systems.

Under the proposed procedures, defendants would lack rights to confront accusers, exclude hearsay accusations, or bar evidence obtained through rough or coercive interrogations. They would not be guaranteed a public or speedy trial and would lack the right to choose their military counsel, who in turn would not be guaranteed equal access to evidence held by prosecutors.

Detainees would also not be guaranteed the right to be present at their own trials, if their absence is deemed necessary to protect national security or individuals."

It still isn't known if bribery tainted defense projects
"Eight months after former Rep. Randy 'Duke' Cunningham confessed to taking massive bribes in exchange for providing at least $230 million in questionable defense and intelligence contracts, the Defense Department inspector general still has not determined whether any of those projects were improper."

Governors Wary of Change on Troops
"House Bill Would Increase President's Authority Over National Guard Units."

Census Bureau Adopts GPS to Find American Homes
"Two-and-a-half years from now, in early 2009, the Census Bureau plans to send an army of 100,000 temporary workers down every street and dusty, dirt road in America. They will be armed with handheld GPS devices.

Robert LaMacchia, head of the Census Bureau's geography division, says they'll capture the latitude and longitude of the front door of every house, apartment and improvised shelter they find.

'We will actually knock on doors and look for hidden housing units,' he says. 'We will find converted garages; from the outside, it may not look like anybody lives there.'"

540,000 New Yorkers at risk of identity theft
"The names, addresses and Social Security numbers of as many as 540,000 injured workers have been lost, and the state and a contracted company are trying to protect the workers from identity theft.

In New York, company and state officials said Monday that the data was on computer hardware that is missing from a secured facility of the company, Chicago-based CS Stars, an independent insurance brokerage."

High-tech cloning
"With the debate over genetic cloning in full swing, hackers could not have cared less at a conference in New York City, where two presenters demonstrated the electronic equivalent of making a copy of an implanted RFID or radio frequency ID chip."

Hackers Clone E-Passports
"A German computer security consultant has shown that he can clone the electronic passports that the United States and other countries are beginning to distribute this year.

The controversial e-passports contain radio frequency ID, or RFID, chips that the U.S. State Department and others say will help thwart document forgery. But Lukas Grunwald, a security consultant with DN-Systems in Germany and an RFID expert, says the data in the chips is easy to copy."

The World's Worst Internet Laws Sneaking Through the Senate
"The Convention on Cybercrime is a sweeping treaty that has been waiting in the wings of the Senate for nearly three years. Now the administration is putting pressure on the Senate to ratify it in the next two days. If it does, it would mean the U.S. would enforce not just our own, but the rest of the world's bad Net laws."

Google to Keep Storing Search Requests

Farmers Vow Defiance Of State's Registration Rule
"Farmers vowed Tuesday afternoon to defy any effort by the state to make them register their farms as part of the preparations for bird flu or other diseases that could jump from animal to human.

Calling the Vermont Agency of Agriculture's livestock premises registration rule a fascist or Nazi plan, the three dozen livestock owners at a hearing at the state office building in Newport City said they would destroy their animals, or pay fines rather than put their names and addresses on a state registry."

Washington State To Take Door-To-Door Health Survey Of Residents
"In a door-to-door survey of 1,100 randomly selected households across Washington, state health officials will soon start asking detailed questions about the health of some state residents - and even give them brief physical exams.
The survey is being financed by an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and participants will be given a $45 gift card for their help in the study."

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