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November 16-30, 2005

November 28, 2005

Bush plot to bomb his Arab ally
"President Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a 'Top Secret' No 10 memo reveals.
Bush disclosed his plan to target al-Jazeera, a civilian station with a huge Mid-East following, at a White House face-to-face with Mr Blair on April 16 last year."

Gold nears $500 an ounce

American company to fight pirates off Somalia
"New York-based Topcat Marine Security Inc. signed a deal worth more than $50 million with the Somali Transitional Federal Government in Nairobi to escort ships plying Somali waters."

Burglars face drug tests in new ruling   (UK)
"Suspects arrested for so-called acquisitive crime - even though they may they later prove innocent -- will be automatically swabbed for traces of cocaine, crack or heroin in their bodies in an effort to identify those who are stealing to fund a drug habit. They will then be assessed by counsellors, and those considered to be addicted will be offered rehab treatment.

Refusing to be tested will be punishable with a fine or jail sentence, while declining to comply with the assessment means offenders risk being denied bail. People who turn out to be innocent who have tested positive for drugs, will still be offered rehab treatment if their habits are considered to be serious."

Supreme Court Denies FBI Translator's Case
"A former FBI translator failed Monday to persuade the Supreme Court to revive her lawsuit alleging she was fired for reporting possible wrongdoing by other linguists involved in counterterrorism investigations.

The high court also rebuffed a request by Sibel Edmonds and media groups to rule on whether an appellate court improperly held arguments in the case in secret without being asked to do so by either side."

Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity
"Perhaps the prime illustration of the Pentagon's intelligence growth is CIFA, which remains one of its least publicized intelligence agencies. Neither the size of its staff, said to be more than 1,000, nor its budget is public, said Conway, the Pentagon spokesman. The CIFA brochure says the agency's mission is to 'transform' the way counterintelligence is done 'fully utilizing 21st century tools and resources.'

One CIFA activity, threat assessments, involves using 'leading edge information technologies and data harvesting,' according to a February 2004 Pentagon budget document. This involves 'exploiting commercial data' with the help of outside contractors including White Oak Technologies Inc. of Silver Spring, and MZM Inc., a Washington-based research organization, according to the Pentagon document."

Patriot Act Searches Are Rare
"The relatively infrequent use of the new 'sneak-and-peek' power stands in contrast to the government's growing use of similar authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows for secret wiretaps and searches in connection with counterintelligence and international terrorism investigations. In 2004, 1,758 such warrants were sought, nearly double the number from 2001.

'That act doesn't just delay notice. It does away with it altogether,' Mr. Jaffer observed. 'They don't even have to show criminal probable cause.'

The government has also expanded its use of administrative subpoenas that require no court approval. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that the FBI is now issuing more than 30,000 'national security letters' each year, demanding information from financial institutions, telephone companies, and Internet providers. In most cases, the information obtained through a national security letter is more limited than that which could be captured in a court-ordered search. The precise number of national security letters issued annually is classified."

Miami police take new tack against terror
"Miami police announced Monday they will stage random shows of force at hotels, banks and other public places to keep terrorists guessing and remind people to be vigilant.

Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats."

Worries mount about system to ID drivers   (TX)
"Gov. Rick Perry unveiled a five-year homeland security wish list Wednesday that calls for checking the coming high-tech thumbprints of all driver's license applicants with federal criminal and terrorism lists.

Scott Henson, a privacy expert for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, called Perry's goal further evidence that a recent change in state law 'lets formerly private personal information be used by law enforcement for any conceivable purpose with no judicial oversight.'

Digimarc Corp., based in Beaverton, Ore., landed a $30 million contract last month from the Texas Department of Public Safety to collect biometric thumbprint and facial images on all Texas driver's licenses."

Texas sues Sony BMG for 'spyware' on CDs
"The state of Texas sued Sony BMG, alleging that the company 'surreptitiously' installed spyware on personal computers through music CDs with a copy protection program."

Pieces Fall From Supreme Court Facade
"A basketball-sized piece of marble molding fell from the facade over the entrance to the Supreme Court Monday, landing on the steps near visitors waiting to enter the building."
Notice that the fallen piece came from just above the fasces held by the centurion representing Order. Looks like it's comin' apart at every nail!

San Diego-area Rep. Cunningham pleads guilty to bribery, resigns
"Rep. Randy 'Duke' Cunningham tearfully resigned Monday after pleading guilty to bribery and admitting he took $2.4 million to steer defense contracts to conspirators using his leadership position on a congressional subcommittee.

The Republican congressman and Vietnam War hero choked up as he announced his resignation outside federal court. Until entering his pleas, he had insisted he had done nothing wrong.

'The truth is I broke the law, concealed my conduct, and disgraced my office,' he said. 'I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, most importantly, the trust of my friends and family.'"

Woman's 'crime' was never illegal, judge says
"'You were incarcerated for a case that was not a crime,' said Mesa County District Judge Brian Flynn, who presided over the case.

Flynn, the prosecutor and Isaac's defense attorney were unaware last year that the offense she was charged with was not a violation of the law.

No one had noticed that a prescription drug found in Isaac's possession, an anti-anxiety medication called Buspirone, is not a controlled substance.
But that was not the end of her legal troubles.
In work release, she was receiving another prescription drug, Clonazepam, which is a controlled substance. Another inmate talked her into sharing a tablet.

So Isaac pleaded guilty to distributing Clonazepam and appeared before Flynn Tuesday for sentencing."

Sparrow shot for downing domino record bid
"The Dutch animal protection agency said Tuesday it is investigating the shooting death of a sparrow that knocked over 23,000 dominoes during an attempt to set a world record.

The ill-fated bird flew into an exposition center, threatening to derail a world record Monday, before it was chased into a corner and shot by an exterminator with an air rifle.
'I think they were awfully fast to pull out a rifle,' he said. 'If a person started knocking over a few dominoes they wouldn't shoot him would they?'

A Dutch website called Geenstijl offered a $1,200 reward for anybody who knocks over the dominoes ahead of time to avenge the bird."

'The prisoner' set for TV return in new version
"The new version will not be placed in the original setting, the north Wales village of Portmeirion, or have the arty, "pop" feel of the original, according to the magazine Broadcast.

Damien Timmer, who has been lined up to executive produce the show, told the television and radio industry magazine that the new series 'takes liberties with the original'.

He said: 'Although it will be a radical reinvention, it will still be a heightened show with themes such as paranoia, conspiracy and identity crisis.'"

Jabs don't work on big-bummed girls
"Many vaccines and other medications are administered by a jab in the rear, but doctors have found that needles cannot penetrate the excess bottom fat of many patients, particularly women. To be effective, the drug has to be injected into the underlying muscle."

November 20, 2005

Gold Rises Near 18-Year High on Alternative-Investment Demand

Gatso 2: rollout of UK's '24x7 vehicle movement database' begins
"A '24x7 national vehicle movement database' that logs everything on the UK's roads and retains the data for at least two years is now being built, according to an Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) strategy document leaked to the Sunday Times. The system, which will use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), and will be overseen from a control centre in Hendon, London, is a sort of 'Gatso 2' network, extending. enhancing and linking existing CCTV, ANPR and speedcam systems and databases."

Patriot Act debate grows after probe details scope
"The 132-page federal law, which Congress passed a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, grants FBI officials unprecedented leeway in investigations. The revelations that the FBI issues about 30,000 national security letters every year -- pieced together by the Post -- has refired passions among librarians opposed to controversial provisions of the Patriot Act.
Under the Patriot Act, more than 60 FBI field inspectors may issue national security letters, which can include demands for information about an individual's residence, telephone, e-mail, Internet use, income, purchasing, travel, investment and reading records. Issuance of a national security letter does not require that a person is suspected of terrorist activity -- only that he or she is 'relevant' to an investigation."

Feds Using ISPs to Spy on Internet Users
"As a consequence, the US communications governing body, the Federal Communications Commission issued a final Order effective Monday November 14th compelling all broadband Internet service providers and many Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, companies to include backdoors allowing police and many other enforcement agencies to directly eavesdrop on their customers by April 2007.
This move supplements and updates the 11 year old Communications Alliance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which dealt with the issue of wiretapping on telecommunications carriers, and addresses the concern that emerging technologies such as VoIP, IM and Emails all lie outside the scope of existing legislation."

You are exposed
"Yet Maclean's was able to purchase the privacy commissioner's phone logs online from a U.S. data broker, no questions asked. For about US$200 per order, delivered months of long-distance records from her Bell Canada home and cottage accounts. They were also able to access her Telus Mobility cellphone call logs for October -- a monthly bill she probably hadn't even received at the time. And all the Internet requests were turned around in a matter of hours."

Criminals Violate Post Office Gun Ban!

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