The Plug Nickel Times is proud to bring you website links to news information that you may not find through your local media. All links are offsite unless otherwise noted - followed links should open in another browser window. Links can become dated or otherwise fail to function, for this reason we quote the actual headline of an article. This may allow you to find an alternate copy of the article through a news index or search engine. Some sites we link to may require a registration process to view an article - this website may be useful to you in those instances. Comments, corrections and submissions are welcome - an email link is at the bottom of the page.
December 1-15, 2004
December 14, 2004
Slaughter on anniversary of Saddam's humiliation
"On Sunday, US jets dropped 10 precision-guided missiles on insurgents' positions in Fallujah after militants fought running battles with coalition forces. It was unclear if there were any insurgent casualties. 'We are still running into some of these diehard insurgents that have either come back into the city or have been laying low,' spokesman Lieutenant Lyle Gilbert said. 'As we are bringing in contractors to help with the reconstruction of Fallujah, this [fighting] slows the process down.'"
Carbomb targets Green Zone Again - Electricity Outage in All Iraqi Cities for Second Straight Day
U.S. officials press to replace ElBaradei
UN challenges U.S. on Iraq oil sales
"An audit board set up by the Security Council to monitor oil export sales in Iraq during the period the U.S.-led occupation authority ran the country reported Tuesday that there had been widespread financial mismanagement, a failure to curb corruption and overdependence on no-bid contracts."
Judge charges Pinochet with kidnap and murder after ruling him fit to stand trial
Leak of Secret U.S. Spy Program to Be Investigated
"The Justice Department has been asked to investigate the leak of details of a secret spy program which media reports say would involve spending $9.5 billion to build stealth spy satellites, government sources said on Tuesday."
Donkey Power for Green Grass Cutting
"Fed up with paying some 100,000 euros ($132,800) a year to cut the grass on its out-of-town roads with tractor-mowers, the local government of Treviso, near Venice, said on Tuesday it had bought six donkeys to do the work instead."
Retiree Duped by Naked Invitation
"An 81-year-old German dropped his trousers and lost his wallet when two young women asked him to join them in a nude photo shoot but they fled with his belongings as he stripped, police said Monday."
Not a Very Artful Codger!!
December 12, 2004
US bombs Falluja and Mosul
Six Army reservists court-martialed for scrounging equipment in Iraq
"At a time when some U.S. troops in Iraq are complaining they have to scrounge for equipment, six Ohio-based reservists were court-martialed for taking Army vehicles abandoned in Kuwait by other units so they could carry out their own unit's mission to Iraq."
Wreckers and Saboteurs!
Attorney General defends burglars' rights (UK)
"In an interview with The Observer, Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith said that existing legislation was adequate to give home owners the right to repulse burglars using 'reasonable force'. 'We must protect victims and law-abiding citizens,' he said. 'But we have to recognise that others have some rights as well. They don't lose all rights because they're engaged in criminal conduct.'
The Attorney-General's intervention comes at the beginning of a week when the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, is expected to go on the offensive on crime. On Wednesday he will tell his regular round table on gun crime that the government is considering a change to the law to make possession of knives as serious as the possession of firearms."
Air-travel rules are official secrets
"The secret rules are an outgrowth of a 1974 law that allowed the Federal Aviation Administration to withhold from public disclosure any information 'detrimental to the safety of persons traveling in air transportation.' After 9/11, Congress transferred airport security to the newly created TSA in the Department of Homeland Security and broadened the FAA rule to cover anything that might be 'detrimental to the security of transportation.' The government is now declaring all forms of interstate transportation - including airplanes, buses, trains and boats - covered by the cloak of 'sensitive security information' and moving to keep information from public scrutiny, said Todd Tatelman, an attorney with the Congressional Research Service."
The Arrival of Secret Law
"A new report from the Congressional Research Service describes with welcome clarity how, by altering a few words in the Homeland Security Act, Congress 'significantly broadened' the government's authority to generate 'sensitive security information,' including an entire system of 'security directives' that are beyond public scrutiny, like the one former Rep. Chenoweth-Hage sought to examine."
Gary Webb, reporter who linked CIA to drug sales, dead at 49
"He was killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to Sacramento County Deputy Coroner Bill Guillot. Authorities are treating the death as a suicide, Guillot told The Associated Press on Sunday."
Probably a typo, a clerical error - I'm sure that'll be corrected by Monday...
December 10, 2004
Fuel crisis threatens Iraqi interim govt
"Iraq used to export refined oil products before the war. Imports now cost the country $200 million a month, with oil products coming by truck from Turkey, Iran, Jordan and Syria, and through the Khor al-Zubeir terminal on the Gulf."
OPEC will cut output
"Iraq, which produces about 2 million barrels a day, has been exempted from quotas to enable it to rebuild its economy."
New US security chief pulls out
Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police chief, was chosen a week ago to head the department created after the 11 September 2001 attacks.
But he has pulled out, citing personal reasons, amid controversy about his links to the stun-gun company, Tasar. Mr Kerik, who sat on the board of Tasar, earned $6.2m from stock options he received from the company, which had done highly profitable business with the department Mr Kerik was now to head, according to FBI sources quoted by the Associated Press news agency."
Return of 'floating White House'
"The US is to spend $2 million (£1.03 million) buying back the presidential yacht from a private owner, saving a national treasure from the potential indignity of becoming a floating casino.
The money was slipped into a $388 billion (£200 billion) spending bill approved by Congress, angering some politicians at a time when education budgets have been slashed, the national debt increased and the war bill is rising daily."
Suitcase with plastic explosives still missing
"A week after the disappearance of plastic explosives placed in a traveler's suitcase during a training exercise for bomb-detecting dogs at Paris' main international airport, French authorities conceded today they still have no idea where the material ended up."
"Lithuanian border guards yesterday uncovered a 1.8-mile hose being used to smuggle vodka from Belarus."
Vermont College Students Fight to Bare All
"Students occasionally parading buck naked around Vermont's Bennington College campus has been a tolerated, if peculiar, part of the university's student culture here since the 1960s. Now Robert Graves, hired this year as Bennington's dean of students, has embarked on a crusade against public nudity -- one that has run afoul of the school's free-spirited students.
'Bennington College is not a clothing-optional campus and we don't live in a clothing-optional society,' Graves told Reuters, adding he realized he had 'ruffled some feathers' by going after unclothed campus denizens."
December 9, 2004
"Two weeks ago someone was allowed into Fallujah by the military to help bury bodies. They were allowed to take photographs of 75 bodies, in order to show pictures to relatives so that they might be identified before they were buried. These pictures are from a book of photos. They are being circulated publicly around small villages near Fallujah where many refugees are staying. The man who took them was only allowed to take photos and bury bodies in one small area of Fallujah. He was not allowed to visit anywhere else. Keep in mind there are at least 1,925 other bodies that were not allowed to be seen."
Link to actual photos is from this article. There's little to be gained from actually viewing the photos other than to ascertain that these 'insurgents' come in all shapes and sizes - the Dogs of War don't discriminate.
Judge Orders Soldier to Report to Iraq
"A soldier who challenged an Army policy requiring him to serve past the date of his enlistment contract must return for duty in Iraq while his lawsuit is under review, a federal judge ruled Wednesday."
Officer Won't Be Charged For Shooting Unarmed Man
"The Denver police officer who shot and killed an unarmed 63-year-old bedridden man will not be charged, Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter announced Wednesday morning. After a three-month investigation, nine members of the grand jury could not come to an agreement on whether there was enough evidence to indict Officer Ranjan Ford Jr. Ford had mistaken a soda pop can for a weapon and shot and killed Frank Lobato on July 14."
Border Patrol in Ariz. poised to double
"Federal law enforcement's presence on the Arizona-Mexico border could double during the next five years as the size and number of immigrant detention facilities increases substantially if the intelligence bill negotiated in the U.S. House of Representatives becomes law."
December 7, 2004
So much loss...
Rebels Aided By Sources in Syria, U.S. Says
"The argument over the nature of the insurgency also has provoked some infighting over a classified briefing given late last month to Rumsfeld about steps U.S. forces could take in Iraq to put down the militants. One of the slides in the briefing, delivered by Army Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, deputy director for Middle Eastern affairs on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended actions that would 'intimidate the intimidators.' Some U.S. officials in Baghdad resented the briefing, which they saw not only as a form of long-distance micromanagement but also as misguided in its recommendations. For example, some fear that it could lead to a resumption of the tough tactics used sometimes last year as the insurgency emerged, such as taking families hostage to compel an insurgent leader to turn himself in. Subsequent internal Army reviews have criticized such tactics as counterproductive."
Special Ops Task Force Threatened Government Agents Who Saw Detainee Abuse in Iraq, Documents Obtained by ACLU Reveal
"Documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that a special operations task force in Iraq sought to silence Defense Intelligence Agency personnel who observed abusive interrogations and that the Department of Defense adopted questionable interrogation techniques at Guantanamo over FBI objections."
CIA: Difficulties lie ahead for Iraq
"A classified cable sent by the CIA's station chief in Baghdad has warned that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating and may not rebound any time soon, according to government officials. The cable, sent late last month as the officer ended a yearlong tour of duty, presented a bleak assessment on matters of politics, economics and security, the officials said.
The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, was said by the officials to have filed a written dissent, objecting to one finding as too harsh, on the ground that the United States had made more progress than was described in fighting the Iraqi insurgency. But the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey Jr., also reviewed the cable and did not dispute its conclusions, the officials said. The station chief's cable has been widely disseminated outside the CIA, and was initially described by a government official who read the document and who praised it as unusually candid."
House OKs intelligence reform bill
"The House of Representatives easily passed a sweeping restructuring of the U.S. intelligence community Tuesday, removing the final obstacle to the most substantial overhaul of the nation's spy apparatus in 50 years. The legislation, which is virtually assured passage today in the Senate, would create an overarching director of intelligence to oversee myriad spy agencies scattered across the government. It would authorize spending for more border security and immigration agents. It also would criminalize certain activities, including support of groups linked to terrorism and participation in a terrorism hoax."
Great - let's start with the joker who came up with the color-coded threat chart!
Homeless Iraq vets showing up at shelters
"Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows that as of last July, nearly 28,000 veterans from Iraq sought health care from the VA. One out of every five was diagnosed with a mental disorder, according to the VA. An Army study in the New England Journal of Medicine in July showed that 17 percent of service members returning from Iraq met screening criteria for major depression, generalized anxiety disorder or PTSD."
Activists Dominate Content Complaints
"The number of indecency complaints had soared dramatically to more than 240,000 in the previous year, Powell said. The figure was up from roughly 14,000 in 2002, and from fewer than 350 in each of the two previous years. There was, Powell said, 'a dramatic rise in public concern and outrage about what is being broadcast into their homes.' What Powell did not reveal - apparently because he was unaware - was the source of the complaints. According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, nearly all indecency complaints in 2003 - 99.8 percent - were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group."
'Make a note - confiscate the cameras before deployment...'
December 5, 2004
Carnage becoming Routine in Iraq: Another Bloody Sunday
Returning Fallujans will face clampdown
"The US military is drawing up plans to keep insurgents from regaining control of this battle-scarred city, but returning residents may find that the measures make Fallujah look more like a police state than the democracy they have been promised. Under the plans, troops would funnel Fallujans to so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses that they must wear at all times. Buses would ferry them into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of suicide bombers, would be banned.
One idea that has stirred debate among Marine officers would require all men to work, for pay, in military-style battalions. Depending on their skills, they would be assigned jobs in construction, waterworks, or rubble-clearing platoons."
Mistakes marked Tillman's 'friendly fire' death
"It would take almost five more weeks - after a flag-draped coffin ceremony, a Silver Star award and a news release, and a public memorial attended by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jake Plummer and newswoman Maria Shriver - for the Rangers or the Army to acknowledge to Kevin Tillman, his family or the public that Pat Tillman had been killed by his own men."
Explosives lost in airport gaffe
"Around 150 grams (about five ounces) of explosive were slipped into the bag of a passenger during sniffer dog training at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. The bag ended up on one of 90 flights leaving at the time, and police are now trying to track it down."
Cybersecurity for das Reich der Amerikaner
"On a fateful day in September 2001, our lives changed forever as a handful of terrorists dramatically proved they had the means to destroy on a level equal to their hatred. Each and every American felt a loss of sanctuary and a loss of security. The government responded and took initial steps to reorganize the federal bureaucracy to better protect the homeland and its citizens. Congress and the Executive Branch worked together to create the Department of Homeland Security."
December 3, 2004
Attacks rock Baghdad
"At least 26 people, including a dozen police personnel, have been killed in two separate attacks north and west of the Iraqi capital."
Fallujah refugees face bleak conditions
"US troops still maintain a tight cordon around Fallujah as they move from house to house, searching for insurgents and arms. Water and electricity supplies are still cut off and the city's general hospital, the first target seized in the assault, remains under US military control, the report said. The al-Rawda al-Mohammadia mosque has been turned into an aid center that residents can use for only four hours each morning. One of Fallujah's main health clinics was destroyed in the assault. In another report two weeks ago, the group suggested that residents would not be allowed to return for some time: 'Some reports are now suggesting that return to Fallujah may take a matter of months rather than days, as was previously suggested by multinational forces.' It is believed that residents will be allowed back one area at a time, once their area has been cleared. TV reports from the city suggest that hundreds of homes have been destroyed or severely damaged."
Fallujah Refugees Tell of Life and Death in the Kill Zone
Four AIPAC officials asked to testify in FBI investigation
"AIPAC was not surprised at the return of the FBI, with a request for more documents and computer files. But they were also presented with a subpoena ordering four senior officials appear before the grand jury investigating the affair. The four are the AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr, research director Rafael Danziger, communications director Renee Rothstein and managing director Richard Fishman. Their testimony is expected by the end of the month, although no precise date has been given."
DHS doles out $2.5 billion in grants to states, high-risk areas
Tenet warns of terrorists combining physical, telecommunications attacks
"Telecommunications technology for government and business should have built-in protections, Tenet said, such as intrusion detection and protection systems, antivirus software, authentication and identify management services, and encryption. 'I know that these actions would be controversial in this age where we still think the Internet is a free and open society with no control or accountability,' he added. 'But, ultimately, the Wild West must give way to governance and control.'"
What a Carpetbagger!
Police Follow Doughnut Trail, Solve Crime
"It was 12:45 a.m. Thursday when Krispy Kreme deliveryman Tim Trostle stopped at a Swatara Township convenience store and left the engine running as he made the delivery. Someone fled with the truck, but since Trostle had left the back doors open, police were able to follow a trail of doughnuts."
'You want to find an outlaw, hire an outlaw. You want to find a Dunkin' Donuts, call a cop.'
December 2, 2004
The Quiet of Destruction and Death
"This past Sunday a small Iraqi Red Crescent aid convoy was allowed into Fallujah at 4:30pm. I interviewed a member of the convoy today. Speaking on condition of anonymity, (so I'll call her Suthir), the first thing she said to me was, 'I need another heart and eyes to bear it because my own are not enough to bear what I saw. Nothing justifies what was done to this city. I didn't see a house or mosque that wasn't destroyed.'"
As more US troops go to Iraq, analysts question how long they can keep up fight
Texas Guard will get Predators
"The Texas Air National Guard will receive a squadron of Predator unmanned aerial vehicles as part of an effort to involve the National Guard and Reserve in more active duty missions, the Air Force said Wednesday."
Judge: Police raid of Hells Angels was 'attack'
"In a blistering decision, Judge Michael Wilkinson of Maricopa County Superior Court described the early-morning operation as an 'attack' that violated Arizona search-and-seizure laws.
Wilkinson, in a two-page order issued Monday, ruled that police made an illegal entry in the 4:42 a.m. raid by attacking the rear of the clubhouse. The assault came within the six seconds it took Coffelt, who was inside the house, to respond to police knocking on the front door, the judge said. Clearly, officers failed to wait a reasonable time before firing a 'diversionary grenade' and breaking a window, he said. Coffelt was armed with a handgun when he came to the front door, Wilkinson said.
Officer Laura Beeler, who at the time was 33 and a nearly nine-year member of the Glendale force, shot Coffelt with a rifle. Beeler claimed that Coffelt took aim at her and fired once, but investigators determined that Coffelt never fired. The handgun recovered from him was fully loaded, police said."
December 1, 2004
Neglect Follows Siege of Fallujah
U.S. to Send 12,000 More Troops to Iraq
PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror
"Several top officials see a danger of blurring what are supposed to be well-defined lines between the stated mission of military public affairs - disseminating truthful, accurate information to the media and the American public - and psychological and information operations, the use of often-misleading information and propaganda to influence the outcome of a campaign or battle."
StockGate: SEC Paper Presented at SIA Symposium Calls Counterfeiting 'Pervasive'