Monday, January 14, 2008

UK: Hi-tech 'satellite' tagging planned

13 Jan 2008
 
" ... Ministers are planning to implant "machine-readable" microchips under
the skin of thousands of offenders as part of an expansion of the
electronic tagging scheme that would create more space in British
jails.

Amid concerns about the security of existing tagging systems and
prison overcrowding, the Ministry of Justice is investigating the use
of satellite and radio-wave technology to monitor criminals.

But, instead of being contained in bracelets worn around the ankle,
the tiny chips would be surgically inserted under the skin of
offenders in the community, to help enforce home curfews. The radio
frequency identification (RFID) tags, as long as two grains of rice,
are able to carry scanable personal information about individuals,
including their identities, address and offending record.

The tags, labelled "spychips" by privacy campaigners, are already used
around the world to keep track of dogs, cats, cattle and airport
luggage, but there is no record of the technology being used to
monitor offenders in the community. The chips are also being
considered as a method of helping to keep order within prisons.

A senior Ministry of Justice official last night confirmed that the
department hoped to go even further, by extending the geographical
range of the internal chips through a link-up with satellite-tracking
similar to the system used to trace stolen vehicles. "All the options
are on the table, and this is one we would like to pursue," the source
added. ... "
 

Secret email that freed the mole at the Foreign Office

13 Jan 2008
The Observer

" ... The bundle of documents delivered to the Crown Prosecution Service by the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 6 December last year should have
contained few nasty surprises. The files told the alarming story of Derek
Pasquill, a civil servant in a hitherto obscure new unit set up to improve
relations with the Islamic world, who had broken one of the golden rules of
a Crown servant.

Pasquill, 48, had handed over confidential documents to an Observer
journalist after becoming concerned about Foreign Office contacts with
Islamic groups and individuals who backed violence. Now he was facing trial
for six breaches of Section 3 of the 1989 Official Secrets Act that,
according to Mariot Leslie, the Foreign Office's director of defence and
intelligence, had seriously damaged UK interests abroad and endangered the
life of a colleague.

The CPS and Special Branch officers who put together the case at the behest
of the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, were convinced that the secrets
case against Pasquill was watertight.

They were wrong. Included among the documents being prepared for disclosure
to Pasquill's defence team was a bombshell. It was an email that should have
been handed to both the defence and the CPS many months before. ... "

~
Read on... ~
 

the 'Shah' and the 'Shaykh'

by Rosa Faiz
" ... In the case of Iran, it is therefore the duty of leftists to insist on a social order and governance that represents and reinforces the true will of the people, who are the true source of all sovereignty, and the only legitimating base for any state. As progressives in Iran and the leftists worldwide, we must recognize and expose Rafsanjani as the face of U.S./U.K. intervention in Iran. It is wise to note that the same Belgian court which reviewed the cases brought against "pragmatists" such as Pinochet and Henry Kissinger, has reviewed a similar case against Rafsanjani. To support a reactionary system in the name of anti-imperialism is as naive as Reza Shah's support for the Germans which ultimately compromised Iran's independence for more than thirty years. As Samir Amin has characterized it, Islamic Fundamentalism is the ‘Dream of the Past’, something highly appreciated by the CIA as a ready-to-use weapon against the progressive forces of the Muslim countries. 4
 
We demand that imperialists stay out of our country, and allow us to settle our accounts with the barbaric regime that is choking us and keeping us all down, to the ultimate delight of the imperialists. An imperialist power that has some thousand of nuclear warheads at the ready, and who daily uses uranium-enriched munitions in Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby exposing all the biological life of the region to radioactive poisoning for the next four billion years (half life of uranium), has no moral authority espousing concern over the offensive capabilities of a nation whose military budget is a mere drop in the ocean that represents the U.S. military expenditure, and who is completely surrounded by the U.S. military presence.
 
We further demand that the Islamic Republic regime respect the safety and health of the Iranian people and cease its pursuing of nuclear plans for the foreseeable future, until a government is established that exhibits thoroughness of modus operandi. In a country where the government cannot, yet, publicly account for the serial killings of the most prominent intellectuals and writers; in a country where thousands of political prisoners have vanished without any culpability; in a country where the government manifestly lacks any accountability for its methods and means when it comes to providing for its people (except when it comes to pursuing, terrorizing and killing dissidents); in a resourceful country that almost half of the population lives in poverty, the government that has thus thoroughly proven its incompetence has no right exposing the public to the enormously poisonous hazards of activities as dangerous as nuclear activities. ... "
 

creating an army of unfeeling monsters?

" ... Since World War II, our military has sought and found any number of ways to override the values and belief systems recruits have absorbed from their families, schools, communities and religions. Using the principles of operant conditioning, the military has found ways to reprogram their human software, overriding those characteristics that are inconvenient in a military context, most particularly the inherent resistance human beings have to killing others of their own species. "Modern combat training conditions soldiers to act reflexively to stimuli," says Lt. Col. Peter Kilner, a professor of philosophy and ethics at West Point, "and this maximizes soldiers' lethality, but it does so by bypassing their moral autonomy. Soldiers are conditioned to act without considering the moral repercussions of their actions; they are enabled to kill without making the conscious decision to do so. If they are unable to justify to themselves the fact that they killed another human being, they will likely -- and understandably -- suffer enormous guilt. This guilt manifests itself as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and it has damaged the lives of thousands of men who performed their duty in combat."

By military standards, operant conditioning has been highly effective. It's enabled American soldiers to kill more often and more efficiently, and that ability continues to exact a terrible toll on those we have designated as the "enemy." But the toll on the troops themselves is also tragic. Even when troops struggle honorably with the difference between a protected person and a permissible target (and I believe that the vast majority do so struggle, though the distinction is one I find both ethically and humanely problematic) in war "shit happens." When soldiers are witness to overwhelming horror, or because of a reflexive accident, an illegitimate order, or because multiple deployments have thoroughly distorted their perceptions, or simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time -- those are the moments that will continue to haunt them, the memories they will not be able to forgive or forget, and the stuff of posttraumatic stress injuries.

And it's not just the inherent conscientious objector our military finds inconvenient: current U.S. military training also includes a component to desensitize male soldiers to the sounds of women being raped, so the enemy cannot use the cries of their fellow soldiers to leverage information. I think it not unreasonable to connect such desensitization techniques to the rates of domestic violence in the military, which are, according to the DoD, five times those in the civilian population. Is anyone really surprised that men who have been specifically trained to ignore the pain and fear of women have a difficult time coming home to their wives and families? And clearly they do. There were 2,374 reported cases of sexual assault in the military in 2005, a 40 percent increase over 2004. But that figure represents only reported cases, and, as Air Force Brig. Gen. K.C. McClain, commander of DoD's Joint Task Force for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response pointed out, "Studies indicate that only 5 percent of sexual assaults are reported." ... "

~ Read more... ~

Colville Tribe pleased with U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Teck Cominco case

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to intervene in an appeals court ruling that holds Canadian miner Teck Cominco Ltd. (TSX:TCK.B) subject to a U.S. Superfund law for polluting the Columbia River, under which Teck may have to pay a share of an estimated $1 billion in cleanup costs.

A federal appeals court last year ruled that Vancouver-based Teck could have to pay a share of the cost to clean up Lake Roosevelt, a 240-kilometre stretch of the upper Columbia River behind Grand Coulee Dam.

The Columbia has been polluted for a century with heavy metals and black slag leaching downstream from Teck Cominco's lead and zinc smelter complex in Trail, B.C., 15 kilometres north of the U.S. border and about 215 kilometres north of Spokane, Wash.

The company asked the Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court ruling, arguing that the Superfund law doesn't apply to a Canadian company discharging hazardous waste unless it "arranged" for the contamination to end up in the United States.

The pollution resulted from an "action of nature" - the southward flow of the river from Canada into the United States - the company said in court papers.

U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement said that for decades the company discharged millions of tonnes of hazardous substances into the river just north of the border. Likening the discharges to firing a gun across the border, Clement said "it was inevitable that the river would carry the pollution directly into the United States."

Virgil Seymour, a member of the local Colville Tribe's business council, said he was pleased with the top court's decision....

~ read on... ~

'what the Olympics can do with those shiny torches'

From: 'Extinguished'

by Marcus Gilmer
 
" ... The Torch Committee thought it important to bring us all together so we could get to know one another and share the patriotic experience as a group, an orgy for the ego. We were all decked out in the same jumpsuit. The pants were plain white while the jacket, worn over a white t-shirt embossed with the Olympic Rings logo, was white with a silver and blue snowflake. The jacket and shirt also sported the inspirational motto of the 2002 Winter Olympics, “Light the Fire Within.” Not that all that an entire outfit made: it also included white gloves and a matching knit cap, the latter of which, my sister helpfully pointed out, looked like a condom on my head.

I milled about the parking lot, introducing myself to the other torch runners. Every time the subject of What Great Feats Got Us Here came up, it was impossible to trump them. “I beat cancer” or “I saved a man's life” topped “I learned how to make a bong out of a Mountain Dew can, a plastic fork, and a straw.” With each passing conversation, my stomach began to stir. I didn't belong.

After an hour of this meeting and greeting, one of the “handlers,” the impossibly cheery young people who told us what to do, huddled us into groups of twenty and corralled each group onto one of the identical busses stationed around the parking lot, all with the torch logos and motto emblazoned on their sides. My family waved goodbye and headed off to find the point on the route where I would receive the Olympic flame. As I took my seat on the bus, I found myself sitting next to the combat nurse, who smiled at me and giggled, “My, isn't this going to be a fun bus ride?” ... "

Why is Iran Still in the Cross-Hairs?

Clues from the Project of a New American Century

by Dr. Ellen Hodgson Brown

Global Research
12 Jan 2008

In the latest escalation of tensions with Iran, on January 5, 2008 five
Iranian patrol boats surrounded three U.S. ships in the Strait of
Hormuz, coming within a "threatening" 200 meters. A voice with a thick
accent then said in English, "I am coming at you -- you will explode in a
couple of minutes." The U.S. ships prepared to strike, when the patrol
boats backed off. That is how the Pentagon told it, but Iranians have
questioned where the threatening voice came from, and Pentagon officials
have admitted that they could not confirm that it came directly from the
Iranian crews involved. They have also admitted that the voice and the
video film were recorded separately, adding to the mysterious
circumstances. 1

Skeptical observers might think that the two countries were being goaded
into World War III -- either that, or that someone wanted to convince
American viewers that Iran indeed remained a threat, despite a recent
National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) finding that the country is not
engaged in a nuclear weapons program as formerly alleged. Before
President George W. Bush left for his Middle East visit on January 8, he
told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, "Part of the reason I'm going
to the Middle East is to make it abundantly clear to nations in that
part of the world that we view Iran as a threat, and that the NIE in no
way lessens that threat." 2 Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said in a recent MSNBC
news broadcast that there is still a "great possibility" of nuclear
action against Iran. The target has just shifted from nuclear power
plants to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which has been declared a
terrorist organization. Paul said, "[T]here are still quite a few
neoconservatives who want to go after Iran under these unbelievable
conditions." 3

The question is, why? One popular theory holds that the push for war is
all about oil; but many countries have oil, and we don't normally invade
them to get their assets. Why go to war for Iran's oil when we can just
buy it?

Another theory says that the saber-rattling is about defending the
dollar. Iran is threatening to open its own oil bourse, and it is
already selling most of its oil in non-dollar currencies. Iran has
broken the petrodollar stranglehold imposed in the 1970s, when OPEC
entered into an agreement with the United States to sell oil only in
U.S. dollars.4 But as William Engdahl pointed out in a March 2006
editorial, Iran is not alone in wanting to drop the dollar as its oil
currency; and war with Iran has been in the cards as part of the U.S.
Greater Middle East strategy since the 1990s, long before it threatened
to open its own oil bourse. 5

The Greater Middle East strategy

. . . Could the published plans for that program hold some clues? Iran
was targeted in the infamous policy paper titled "Rebuilding America's
Defenses," published by the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in
2000. The document was patterned from an earlier blueprint called "A
Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," drafted for Israeli
Prime Minister Netanyahu in 1996. 6 In a May 2005 summary of the PNAC
directive, Professor Michel Chossudovsky described PNAC as a
neo-conservative think tank linked to the Defense-Intelligence
establishment, the Republican Party and the powerful Council on Foreign
Relations (CFR), which plays an important role in the formulation of
U.S. foreign policy. In "Rebuilding America's Defenses," PNAC called for
"the direct imposition of U.S. 'forward bases' throughout Central Asia
and the Middle East, with a view to ensuring economic domination of the
world, while strangling any potential 'rival' or any viable alternative
to America's vision of a 'free market' economy." 7

Strangling any potential rival or viable alternative to America's vision
of a free market economy

. . . Could that be it? It is a matter of historical interest that the
notion of a "free market" economy hasn't always been "America's vision."
In the nineteenth century, "free trade" was something many Americans
resisted. They saw it as a British scheme to exploit America of its
resources, at a time when British bankers had a corner on the gold that
was the exclusive coin of international trade. When the gold standard
was abandoned in 1971, the U.S. dollar became the world's reserve
currency in its stead. Many disillusioned people in developing countries
today suspect that America's global "free market" is another form of
exploitation -- prying countries open to be plundered of their physical
and human resources in return for loans of the dollars necessary to buy
oil at inflated prices. Oil is the bait for ensnaring the world in the
debt trap, and the terrorism that must be suppressed is the rebellion of
any locals who will not be ensnared quietly. The weapon in this economic
war is debt, and the bullets are compound interest.

The story has been widely circulated that when Albert Einstein was asked
what the most powerful force in the universe was, he replied, "compound
interest." The story is probably apocryphal, but it underscores the
force of the concept. Compound interest has allowed a private global
banking cartel to control most of the resources of the world. The debt
trap was set in 1974, when OPEC was induced to trade its oil only in
U.S. dollars. The price of oil then suddenly quadrupled, and countries
with insufficient dollars for their oil needs had to borrow them. In
1980, international interest rates shot up to 20 percent. At 20 percent
interest compounded annually, $100 doubles in under 4 years; and in 20
years, it becomes a breathtaking $3,834. 8 The impact on Third World
debtors was devastating. President Obasanjo of Nigeria complained in 2000:

All that we had borrowed up to 1985 was around $5 billion, and we have
paid about $16 billion; yet we are still being told that we owe about
$28 billion. That $28 billion came about because of the injustice in the
foreign creditors' interest rates. If you ask me what is the worst thing
in the world, I will say it is compound interest. 9

Could the "viable economic alternative" that threatens the Western
economic model be one that declares the collecting of interest to be
illegal? That is the model Iran is now holding out to the world. In
1979, Iran was established as an "Islamic Republic," designed to enforce
the principles of the Koran not just morally or religiously but as a
matter of state government policy. Afghanistan, which is also in the
cross-hairs of the U.S. war machine, and Pakistan, which the U.S. is
trying hard to control, are also Islamic Republics. The economic
principles of the Koran include Sharia banking, which forbids "usury."
In the Koran, usury is defined as charging not just excess interest but
any interest.

That is also how the term was defined under Old English law until
Protestant scholars redefined it in the seventeenth century, opening the
Christian world to a form of economic advantage formerly available only
to Jewish money lenders. In Jewish scriptures, charging interest was
forbidden between "brothers" but was allowed in dealings with
"foreigners." (See, for example, Deuteronomy 23:19, "You must not make
your brother pay interest," and 23:20, "You may make

a foreigner pay interest, but your brother you must not make pay
interest.") This point is raised here not to indict the Jewish people
(who are not the "global bankers") but for its historical relevance in
tracking the divergence of two religious systems. Charging interest on
loans has been accepted banking practice throughout the Judao-Christian
world for so long that we don't think there is anything wrong with it
today, but that hasn't always been true. The history of interest is
detailed in an article in The World Guide Encyclopedia, which is
published in Uruguay and has a Third World/Islamic slant. It states:

The practice of usury -- lending money and accumulating interest on the
loan -- can be traced back 4,000 years. But it has always been despised,
condemned, restricted or banned by moral, ethical, legal or religious
entities. . . .

During the prophet Muhammad's lifetime, criticism of usury became
established. This stance was reinforced by his teachings in the Qur'an,
around 600 AD. . . .

Judaism's criticisms of usury are rooted in several passages of the Old
Testament in which charging interest is scorned, discouraged and
prohibited. . . . [I]n Deuteronomy, [the ban] extends to all loans,
excluding trade with foreigners. The word "foreigner" is interpreted in
general as "enemy" and, armed with this text, Jews employed usury as a
weapon, as other people's needs could be transformed into submission. . . .

The prohibition of usury was adopted as a major campaign by the earliest
Christian Church, following on from Jesus' expulsion of the
money-lenders from the temple. . . . [T]he Catholic Church of the 4th
century AD banned the clergy from charging interest, a rule that was
later extended in the 5th century to the laity. . . .

[A]round 1620, according to the theologian Ruston, "usury passed from
being an offense against public morality, which a Christian government
was expected to suppress, to being a matter of private conscience, and a
new generation of Christian moralists redefined usury as excessive
interest". . . . [I]t is interesting to contrast the clear moral mandate
expressed through Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum (634-644 AD) about
"ravenous usury" as "a demon condemned by the Church but practiced in a
deceitful way by avaricious men," with Pope John Paul II's encyclical
Solicitude Rei Socialis (1987) which omits any explicit mention of
usury, except for a vague reference to recognizing the Third World debt
crisis.

This "demon" governs current global relations, condemning most of the
world population to living under the sign of debt: i.e., each person
born in Latin America owes already $1,600 in foreign debt; each
individual being conceived in Sub-Saharan Africa carries the burden of a
$336 debt, for something that its ancestors have long ago paid-off. In
1980 the Southern countries' debt amounted to $567 billion; since then,
they have paid $3,450 billion in interest and write-offs, six times the
original amount. In spite of this, that debt had quadrupled by the year
2000, reaching $2,070 billion. 10

Islamic scholars have been seeking to devise a global banking system
that would serve as an alternative to the interest-based scheme that is
in control of the world economy, and Iran has led the way in devising
that model. Iran was able to escape the debt trap that captured other
developing countries because it had its own oil. Few Islamic banks
existed before Iran became an Islamic Republic in 1979, but the concept
is now spreading globally. With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989,
the viable economic model that threatens the global dominance of the
Western banking clique may no longer be Communism. It may be the specter
of an Islamic banking system that would strip a private banking cartel
of the compound interest scheme that is its most powerful economic weapon.

President Bush assured allies before his Mideast trip, "It's important
for the people in the region to know that while all options remain on
the table, that I believe we can solve this problem diplomatically, and
the way to do that is to continue to isolate Iran in the international
community." 11 Isolate Iran from whom? Isolation is something that is
done to prevent contagion. The contagion to be contained may be the
creation of an Islamic State pursuing the principles of Sharia law,
something that is now the rallying cry for many Muslims around the world.

Ellen Brown, J.D., developed her research skills as an attorney
practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest
book, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and
"the money trust." She shows how this private cartel has usurped the
power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people
can get it back. Her eleven books include the bestselling Nature's
Pharmacy, co-authored with Dr. Lynne Walker, which has sold 285,000
copies. Her websites are www.webofdebt.com and www.ellenbrown.com.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7783

We Forget What It Was Really Like Under the Clintons

" ... Bai's contention that Bill Clinton's "wife's fortunes are bound up with his, and vice versa" is incontestable. The primaries and even more so the general election, if Hillary is the nominee, will be a referendum less on Hillary than on Clintonism, the philosophy and strategy that guided the White House for eight years. Hillary clearly welcomes such a prospect, as demonstrated by her constantly reminding voters that she was "deeply involved in being part of the Clinton team."

Bai's much more problematic assertions involve his evaluation of the nature and impact of Clintonism. Bai begins by mocking "Clinton's critics on the left" for displaying "a stunning lack of historical perspective." Yet it is Bai, who demonstrates a remarkable lack of historical knowledge, a dangerous shortcoming for a reporter with his portfolio.

The most glaring example is Bai's bizarre assertion that Clinton "almost single-handedly pulled the Democratic Party back from its slide into irrelevance." The historical fact is that when Clinton took office, the Democratic Party controlled both houses of Congress and a majority of state governorships. By the time he left office, the Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress and two-thirds of the governorships. By the numbers, it was Clintonism that relegated the Democratic Party to the shadows. ... ''

~ read on... ~


Top 10 Youth Activism Victories in 2007

From shutting down toxic waste facilities to making colleges more affordable, young people all over America put their energies into remarkable actions for their communities, and for the world.

http://www.wiretapmag.org/activism/43351/

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image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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