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October 2006

October 31, 2006

Militants blame U.S. for Pakistan strike
"Missiles fired by Pakistani helicopters destroyed a religious school on the Afghan border Monday that the military said was a front for an al-Qaida training camp, killing 80 people and prompting strong protests against the country's president and the United States.
U.S. and Pakistani military officials denied American involvement and rejected claims that children and women died in the strike that flattened the building in the remote northwestern village of Chingai, two miles from the Afghan border."

U.S. info led to airstrike, Pakistanis say
"The country's major Islamic party charged that U.S. military planes carried out the attack, which demolished the school, located near the border with Afghanistan. Pakistani and U.S. military officials denied that, saying the raid was the work of Pakistani helicopter gunships and forces, though U.S. intelligence had prompted it.

'This was a training camp, and they had been warned to stop their activities,' said Gen. Mahmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan's ambassador in Washington. 'They did not pay heed, so they were hit by our gunships and all the people there were killed. There will be a lot of unhappy or misguided people saying we are killing our own people for the sake of the Americans, but we had a commitment to fight terrorism on our soil, and we made a decision.'"

Permission to travel
"The USA Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed that airlines cruise lines, and operators of all other ships and planes - including charter flights, air taxis, fishing vessels, etc. - be required to get individual permission ('clearance') from the DHS for each passenger on all flights or ocean voyages to, from, or via the USA. Unless the answer is 'Yes' - if the answer is 'no' or 'maybe', or if the DHS doesn’t answer at all - the airline wouldn’t be allowed to give you a boarding pass, or let you or your luggage on the plane."

Court Told It Lacks Power in Detainee Cases
"Moving quickly to implement the bill signed by President Bush this week that authorizes military trials of enemy combatants, the administration has formally notified the U.S. District Court here that it no longer has jurisdiction to consider hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed by inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba."

Iraq propaganda program legal: Pentagon report
"We concluded that the Multi-National Force-Iraq and Multi-National Corps-Iraq complied with applicable laws and regulations in their use of a contractor to conduct Psychological Operations and their use of newspapers as a way to disseminate information."

Web could be terror training camp in U.S., politician says
"Disaffected people living in the United States may develop radical ideologies and potentially violent skills over the Internet and that could present the next major U.S. security threat, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Monday.

'We now have a capability of someone to radicalize themselves over the Internet,' Chertoff said on the sidelines of a meeting of International Association of the Chiefs of Police."

FBI director wants ISPs to track users

Judge orders Cheney visitor logs opened
"A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to release information about who visited Vice President Dick Cheney's office and personal residence, an order that could spark a late election-season debate over lobbyists' White House access.
The Secret Service can still try to withhold the records but, in a written ruling Thursday, Urbina questioned the agency's primary argument - that the logs are protected by Cheney's right to executive privilege."

Suit filed over wire transfers
"An immigrant rights group is spearheading a class-action suit filed Wednesday against Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, alleging that his office illegally seized millions of dollars in Western Union wires as part of its campaign to shut down money laundering by border smugglers.
The federal action alleges that Western Union clients are not advised that they can challenge the seizures in court, where the state would have to prove illegal conduct. It also says numerous customers have been 'interrogated, intimidated and threatened by Goddard's agents when attempting to find out about their money. Still others report making several attempts to recover their money and receiving no response.'"

More about money transfers by immigrants
"Smugglers adopted the system, known as triangulation, after state investigators began monitoring wire transactions at Western Unions in Arizona, the state Attorney General's Office says.

The state's years-long investigation of wire transactions has led to the seizure of huge sums of laundered money and provided data used to attack criminal organizations. It also has led to a court battle with Western Union, which dominates the business of financial wire transfers.
Goddard said state agents have intercepted more than 15,000 suspected coyote wire transfers into the state in the past few years, seizing upward of $17 million.
Several years ago, task force investigators began obtaining warrants to freeze suspicious wire transfers. Recipients cannot get their money unless they demonstrate to police that it is legitimate. Unclaimed funds are forfeited under racketeering statutes and used for law enforcement."

Court upholds Oregon law restricting forfeitures
"The Oregon Supreme Court upheld a voter-passed law Thursday that requires a criminal conviction before police can seize and sell property tied to illegal activity."

Chicago Voter Database Hacked
"Bob Wilson, an official with the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project - which bills itself as a not-for-profit civic organization dedicated to the correction of election system deficiencies - tells ABC News that last week his organization hacked the database, which contains detailed information about hundreds of thousands of Chicago voters, including their Social Security numbers, and dates of birth."

Consumer watchdogs demand recall of spychipped credit cards
"Consumer watchdog group CASPIAN is demanding a recall of millions of RFID-equipped contactless credit cards in light of serious security flaws reported today in the New York Times. The paper reports that a team of security researchers has found that virtually every one of these cards tested is vulnerable to unauthorized charges and puts consumers at risk for identity theft."

Study: Some preschoolers can use Ritalin

School district stops teaching students to attack intruders
"A suburban Fort Worth, Texas, school district has halted a program teaching students to attack a gunman if he invades a classroom, administrators said Wednesday.
Crummel said the district didn't know about that aspect until the training had been completed.

'That was not something we believe in and not something we supported,' he said."

School Safety Drill Upsets Some Parents
"A school safety drill that included police officers in riot gear with weapons has caused concern among some parents who say it was too realistic and frightened some students.

Police in the western Michigan community of Wyoming entered two classrooms at Lee Middle and High School on Thursday and announced there was a threat to the school, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

Students, who were unaware police were conducting a drill, were taken from the classroom into the halls, patted down by officers and asked what they had in their pockets, the newspaper said."

October 15, 2006

Outspoken Putin critic shot dead in Moscow
"Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead on Saturday at her apartment block in central Moscow, police said."
Interesting... her murder falling on Putin's birthday - reminds me of the murder of Georgi Markov.

UK troops worsen problems in Iraq: army head
"The head of Britain's army said the presence of British troops in Iraq was exacerbating the security situation on the ground and they should be withdrawn soon, according to a British newspaper."

U.S. Supporter of Al-Qaeda Is Indicted on Treason Charge
"In a Washington news conference announcing the charges, Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty said that the treason charge 'is not one that we bring lightly' but that 'this is the right case for this charge.'

'Adam Gadahn is an American citizen who made a choice -- he chose to join our enemy and to provide it with aid and comfort by acting as a propagandist for al-Qaeda,' McNulty said, adding later: 'Today's indictment should serve as notice that the United States will protect itself against all enemies, foreign and domestic. . . . Betrayal of our country will bring severe consequences.'"

Judge rejects Ashcroft's immunity claim
"Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft could be called to testify in a lawsuit that claims a student was wrongly imprisoned in a computer terrorism case, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge rejected Ashcroft's argument to toss out the lawsuit because he was entitled to absolute immunity since his position at the Department of Justice was prosecutorial."

Court temporarily OKs domestic spying
"The Bush administration can continue its warrantless surveillance program while it appeals a judge's ruling that the program is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The Justice Department had urged the appeals court to allow it to keep the program in place while it argues its appeal, claiming that the nation faced 'potential irreparable harm.' The appeal is likely to take months."

Detainee bill lifts Bush's power to new heights - President now has legal authority even courts can't challenge
"With the final passage through Congress of the detainee treatment bill, President Bush achieved a signal victory Friday, shoring up with legislation his determined campaign against terrorism in the face of challenges from critics and the courts.
Rather than reining in the formidable presidential powers that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have asserted since Sept. 11, 2001, the law gives some of those powers a solid statutory foundation. In effect it allows the president to identify enemies, imprison them indefinitely and interrogate them - albeit with a ban on the harshest treatment - beyond the reach of the full court reviews traditionally afforded criminal defendants and ordinary prisoners."

Censored Affidavit Issued in National Security Case
"Federal District Court in Manhattan has made public an affidavit from a plaintiff whose identity cannot be revealed. In the affidavit, he says he has to lie to those close to him to preserve the secrecy of a national security investigation that he believes is morally questionable.

The affidavit, which has been heavily censored, provides vivid details of an upside-down life. The plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, is a businessman who filed a lawsuit in 2004 challenging the constitutionality of federal demands for Internet and telephone records. He describes himself as the former president of an Internet access and consulting business."

Bush Says He Can Edit Security Reports
"In the law Bush signed Wednesday, Congress stated no one but the privacy officer could alter, delay or prohibit the mandatory annual report on Homeland Security department activities that affect privacy, including complaints.

But Bush, in a signing statement attached to the agency's 2007 spending bill, said he will interpret that section 'in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch.'"

Colleges join U.S. to track negative overseas press
"A consortium of major universities, with Homeland Security Department funds, is developing software that would let the government monitor negative opinions of the United States or its leaders in newspapers and other publications overseas.

The 'sentiment analysis' is intended to identify potential threats to the nation, security officials said."

Report: Thousands Wrongly on Terror List
"Maher Arar, a Canadian software engineer, was detained at New York's Kennedy Airport in 2002 because Canadian officials had asked that he be placed on a watch list. The U.S. transferred him without court approval to Syria where he was tortured and imprisoned for a year. A Canadian inquiry found that Arar should not have been on the list because he didn't do anything wrong."

Defense bill takes aim at predatory debt
"The 2007 defense authorization bill includes a provision capping annual interest rates on consumer credit loans -- including 'payday loans' - to service members and their dependents at 36 percent.
A study released by the Defense Department found military personnel are three times as likely to use payday loans as civilians.
Helping the military steer clear of predatory, high-priced debt is a good thing. It would be even better if the legislation were expanded to include all consumers."
And it would be doubleplusgood if those folks who keep leaving IOUs in the cookie jar would hold all our widdle hands in the parking lot and while we're crossing the street!

Congress puts foot down to curb payday lenders
"According to CRL’s statistics, active-duty military personnel are three times more likely than civilians to take out payday loans. One in five active-duty military personnel were payday borrowers last year, and payday lending costs military families more than $80 million in fees every year.

'If that doesn’t show they’re targets, I don’t know what does,' Reuss said. 'Ask any soldier, and they’ll tell you. Ask them how many payday loan businesses are located near their base.'"
Yep - targets by any other name...

Data at risk when laptops lost or stolen
"The U.S. Department of Transportation has put information about at least 132,000 people at risk by losing laptop computers, WTOP-AM reports.

The Washington-area radio station said records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show nearly 400 laptops have been misplaced since 2001. In nine of those cases, the computers contained payroll information like names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other data."

Berks Mails Letters to Gun Permit Holders
"Letters are in the mail to more than 25-thousand gun permit holders in Berks County who may have had their personal information accessed.

Cannon Technology Solutions of Montgomery County was developing a new computer program for the county when the on-line security was temporarily disabled last month.

County officials say the names, addresses and Social Security numbers were left unguarded for an unknown period of time."

Wyoming sues ATF over gun permits
"A federal agency is balking at a Wyoming law that allows people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence to regain their right to own guns simply because the agency wants to take guns away from as many people as possible, a state lawyer told a federal judge Friday."

Online gambling set for takeover wave
"Investors wiped $7bn (£3.7bn) off the market value of what at the start of trading was an industry worth $12bn, as heavyweight internet gambling companies said they would suspend indefinitely their US operations.
Mr Garber told the Financial Times that he expected the pace of consolidation to quicken, with MGM and Harrah's, which built their gaming empires around the fully regulated Las Vegas casino industry, likely to step in. However, Harrah's had other matters on its mind yesterday with news that it had received a $15bn takeover offer from private equity companies Apollo Management and Texas Pacific.

Now that listed internet gambling companies are expected to quit the US en masse, the remains of their businesses will be free from the spectre of illegality that in the past might have put off investors and prospective buyers.

Mr Garber said: 'I wouldn't be surprised if they [MGM and Harrah's] didn't have an interest in winning non US-facing companies as a means of tipping their toes in the internet world.'"

Florida Police Shot Suspected Cop Killer 68 Times
"Officers fired 110 rounds of ammunition at the man suspected of killing a sheriff's deputy, killing the suspect, according to an autopsy released by the sheriff's office."

Web Site Operator Charged With Obscenity
"A woman who authorities say ran a Web site that published graphic fictional tales about the torture and sexual abuse of children has been indicted on federal obscenity charges.

'Use of the Internet to distribute obscene stories like these not only violates federal law, but also emboldens sex offenders who would target children,' U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said Wednesday in announcing the charges against Karen Fletcher, 54."

High-tech school security is on the rise
"'People need to realize that the day of the open campus is changing,' says Allan Measom, CEO of Raptor Technologies, a Houston firm that sells the visitor tracking system that Spring uses."

Texas school tells classes to fight back
"Youngsters in a suburban Fort Worth school district are being taught not to sit there like good boys and girls with their hands folded if a gunman invades the classroom, but to rush him and hit him with everything they got - books, pencils, legs and arms."

TV show exposes lawmakers' drug use
"A popular Italian satirical TV show has exposed what appears to be widespread drug use among the country's parliamentarians by secretly testing them for a number of illegal substances.

Of 50 lower house deputies who fell for the trick organized by the program Le Iene (the Hyenas), almost one third appeared to have taken drugs in the previous 36 hours, 12 of them testing positive for cannabis and four for cocaine, it said."

Anarchists launch major media offensive
"Center for a Stateless Society - The Molinari Institute, a market anarchist think tank, today launched a new media effort aiming to put their agenda to abolish government front and center in US political discourse. Dubbing their project the Center for a Stateless Society (, institute officials laid out plans to publish and distribute news commentary written by anarchists with radically free-market oriented views on economics - taking market anarchism out of the realm of academia and obscure internet blogs in order to put it in the public eye."

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