Monday, May 5, 2008

The Devil's in the details

666 an infamous mark of state lottery fix in 1980
It took awhile before April 24, 1980, became recognized as a historic date.

The 6 million Pennsylvanians watching the Pennsylvania Lottery's Daily Number drawing that night never knew that the fix was in for the $3.5 million jackpot. The winning combination of 6-6-6 was rigged by Nick Perry, a Pittsburgh broadcast pioneer, and Edward Plevel, a lottery official.

Rumors of a fix quickly surfaced. By June, state officials moved the lottery telecast out of Pittsburgh, and within a year Perry and several others were convicted. Pennsylvania's is the only known U.S. state lottery-fixing scandal.

The fix caused big change for lotteries, which stopped using Ping-Pong balls to draw numbers for big jackpot games because they were vulnerable to tampering, said Charles Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which oversees Powerball.

DOT employees arrested for bribery
(MCALLEN, Texas) - An indictment charging three Texas Department of Transportation (TX DOT) employees for accepting bribes has been unsealed following their arrest, United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle announced today. Each of the three TX DOT employees, Cresenciano "Chano" Falcon, 56, of Edinburg, Texas, a district maintenance administrator; Ray Llanes, 50, of San Benito, Texas, and Noe Beltran, 42, of San Juan, Texas, each a highway inspector, is charged with one count of violating Title 18, U.S.C Section 666, accepting bribes regarding programs receiving federal funds.

Cheaper Wi-Fi access on way
People in Shanghai are to be able to access broadband wireless networks in the city through Shanghai Mobile's services at a lower cost than at present, the city's biggest mobile phone operator said yesterday after signing agreements with the city agency for IT industry promotion.
Shanghai Mobile is to establish 666 additional Wi-Fi base stations at the Olympic Games and World Expo sites.

Armageddon and 666
With all the current events in the Middle East, what does the Bible say about a third and possilby LAST World War. Who would be in it?
What is the place of the United States in end-time prophecy? What does the number "666" mean?
Pastor Tom Ventura will attempt to start digging into the Bible and see what it says about a coming Third World War that takes place in the Mideast.
Are we living in the "end times", or is that just a metaphor? Pastor Tom will be looking in the book of Ezekiel and Revelation to see what it says about our future.

Author Reveals Beast of Revelation in Interview with Royce Holleman on Paranormal Palace Radio
Have you ever felt that the world was guided in ways that are beyond man's control? The constant changes in the world since the time of Nimrod 4000 years ago until today and all the events that have shaken the world have been to bring the universe back into the hands of the Prince of Darkness, Lucia, a world that he had ruled with his Watchers before it was all ripped from Lucia's grasp when man was created. Nimrod Rising paints a diabolical picture of how the Prince of Darkness executes the evil plot to take the world back by force and destroy civilization in the process. From the Great Builder Nimrod in 4000 BC to today, 666 generations later, you can ride the storm of Nimrod Rising and experience the death of a world and the birth pangs of another. You will swear it is really upon us.

Nimrod Rising is a work of fiction based on truth and represents twelve years of work. No one knows what the terms, 666 or Antichrist really mean. We can only put together what seems historically and biblically logical. Nimrod Rising is not a Christian novel, but does declare its premise to be based on what Seven believes to be truth in the Bible. It is scary, not so much for its content as because it is such a timely and realistic story. Stephen does not write material for the purpose of making people afraid. Steven likes to think that he tells the truth and the truth scars them. Also, Nimrod Rising is a real look at the religion of Islam. Steven has spent his whole adult life working with Muslims. That gives him a real knowledge of the faith of over one billion people.

Carlyle May Pay $525 Million for Stake in NYC Tower
Carlyle Group, the world's second- largest private-equity firm, is poised to buy a stake in the retail portion of 666 Fifth Ave. in New York for $525 million in a transaction that would help the building's owner Jared Kushner repay debt, according to people familiar with the matter.
Carlyle, based in Washington, plans to make the purchase with Crown Acquisitions as a leasing partner, said the people, who declined to be named because the deal isn't complete. Carlyle may not buy all of the space available, according one person familiar with the transaction.
The purchase would be the second high-profile commercial real estate acquisition by Carlyle this month. The firm acquired 650 Madison Ave. for $680 million with Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. A sale of the 666 Fifth retail space would enable Kushner Cos. to pay some of the short-term debt incurred after purchasing the building last year for $1.8 billion.
Police Investigate Church Vandalism
Inside the church, all pew cushions were slashed, ketchup was smeared everywhere and a large Bible was shredded. Doors were also broken and the vandals emptied fire extinguishers on a piano and other musical instruments. Sink drains were also blocked and parts of the church were flooded.
Messages of devil worship and the number "666" were also left behind in ketchup.

Postman hits the charts
This month, his song called Simon Cowell, which he produced just days before, made it to number six in the chart of alongside Halloween, which made number three and 666 at number nine.

His songs have a quirky and fun edge. He said: "666 is all about what I would say to the Devil if we ever met. I would ask him why he took away the loved icons such as Elvis, Lennon, Diana and Sinatra. In the song I blend the famous names with my grandparents who have passed away as a tribute to them all."

The awfully nice guys allowing US torture at Guantanamo Bay

The thing is – they knew. It was the US government's explicit policy to wipe away the Geneva conventions and subject the supposedly most dangerous captives to what were euphemistically called "aggressive" interrogation techniques – techniques that flouted international law. The people behind the policy are therefore, according to the British human rights lawyer Philippe Sands, criminals who may well face charges should they choose to take a holiday in, say, France or Germany.

And who are they, these people? Top government lawyers who – at the behest of Donald Rumsfeld, the then defence secretary – cooked up a means of bypassing Geneva and in effect allowed the interrogators on the tip of Cuba to do whatever the hell they wanted. And, at Guantanamo Bay, lowly, inexperienced lawyers on the ground who were left isolated to provide the legal regulation for what might constitute humane treatment and what might not.

Meanwhile some of the top military brass, including General Richard Myers, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, were hoodwinked about what was really going on.

We may have suspected that the US government had approved all this stuff, but we didn't know for sure until the publication last week of a remarkable book by Sands, who works at Matrix chambers alongside our own lovable Cherie Booth QC, the wife of a man who – according to her fellow QC – knew full well what was being done at Guantanamo and did nothing whatsoever to urge a halt.

"Blair knew," Sands says, shaking his head. "Of course he knew. I mean, if I knew about it back then, Blair must have done."

Torture Team, Sands's book, published by Penguin, may well be the best bit of contemporary investigative journalism you will read: it is right up there with Woodward and Bernstein, a tour de force of relentlessly dogged pursuit, of interviews with guilty men acquired against all the odds, a beautifully told and humane narrative that follows a paper trail and nails the truth. What is perhaps most remarkable about it is the clear sympathy that Sands, a leftie, has for the succession of gung-ho, proto-Republican legal professionals who either deliberately or inadvertently allowed the torture of prisoners to take place.

~ more... ~


Former President Carter To Be Tried For Peace Crimes (satire)

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND—An international peace-crimes tribunal commenced legal proceedings against former U.S. President Jimmy Carter for alleged crimes against inhumanity Monday.

"Jimmy Carter's political career includes a laundry list of anti-war-making offenses," said chief prosecutor Charles B. Simmons. "Carter's record of benevolence, diplomacy, and respect for human life is unrivaled in recent geopolitical history. For millions, the very sight of his face evokes memories of his administration's reign of tolerance."

The former president, whom Simmons described as "relentless in his naked pursuit of everlasting global peace," has been sought by peace-crimes officers in the international war-making community for decades. Police apprehended Carter on July 25 in South Florida, where he was building low-income housing as a part of a Habitat For Humanity project. Shortly thereafter, he was extradited to Geneva, where he will be prosecuted for "grossly humane acts against all nations."

~ read on... ~


The Film they Tried to Ban: 'On the Verge'

The new Smash EDO Campaign Movie is currently on tour. Police forces around the country have attempted to stop screenings of the film visiting venues and citing licensing laws to try to get screenings of the film pulled. Despite the repression the tour is going ahead.


Trailer for 'On the Verge' - The Smash EDO Campaign film


Verge on the road as SMASHEDO movie tour goes ahead despite censorship attempts

SchNEWS and SmashEDO have combined forces to bring the world "the film they tried to ban" - On the Verge, the story of the four -year campaign against EDO MBM, Brighton's favourite bomb-builders. Determined to beat the censorship imposed by Sussex Police and their allies (See SchNEWS 625), SchMOVIES have taken the show(ings) on the road.

The first leg of the tour over the last week has taken in Oxford, Bath, Hereford and finished up at Bristol's Kebele social centre. According to movie director Steve Bishop, "The whole things has been massively energised by Sussex Police's cack-handed attempt at censorship – so cobblers / bollocks to them basically. Venue organisers have been surprised at the turn outs – obviously huge credit has to go to everyone who organised a screening at short notice."..


'A misguided piece of official hysteria'

Police are going to unusual lengths to stop you seeing an obscure, low-budget documentary about an arms manufacturer in Brighton. Steven Morris on the bizarre saga of On the Verge
A celebrated independent cinema was forced to cancel a screening of a controversial film on Brighton and Hove Council's orders.

Duke of York's in Preston Circus, Brighton, pulled the anti-war documentary at the last minute after an environmental health officer raised concerns over its lack of a certificate.

Cinema staff say they were told police had contacted the council to inform them of the potential breach of their licence.

They say it is the first time in recent memory a film has been pulled for that reason...


DNA database plans for children who 'could become criminals'

Primary school children should be put on the national DNA database if their behaviour suggests they will become criminals, a senior Scotland Yard expert said yesterday.
Gary Pugh, the director of forensic science and the new DNA spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, called for a debate on the measures required to identify future offenders.

He said: "If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large.

"We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society."

But critics said this was a step towards a police state that would risk stigmatising youngsters who had yet to commit a criminal act.

The details of more than 4.5 million people, including about 150,000 children under the age of 16, are held on the Government's database, making it the largest system of its kind in the world.

~ more... ~


'Cinderella' files to trap crooks by their shoes

Criminals who leave footprints behind when committing crimes will be more likely to get caught from next month when a national database of footwear evidence is launched.

Police officers will be able to compare marks left by shoes and boots at crime scenes with records taken from those arrested on suspicion of previous offences.

The Footwear Intelligence Technology system - the first of its kind - will speed up the traditional linking of footprint evidence to individuals through a centralised computer base.

As well as using shoe types and sizes to identify suspects, it will also record information on the angle of footfall and weight distribution – solving the problem of suspects claiming to have lent their footwear to others.

Experts at the Forensic Science Service who are developing the database have called it "Cinderella analysis".

Partial or full footprints are thought to be left behind at close to 40 per cent of crime scenes and the markings are behind only DNA and blood as the most frequently collected evidence type.

~ read on... ~


Protecting Yourself From Suspicionless Searches While Traveling

The Ninth Circuit's recent ruling (pdf) in United States v. Arnold allows border patrol agents to search your laptop or other digital device without limitation when you are entering the country. EFF and many civil liberties, travelers' rights, immigration advocacy and professional organizations are concerned that unfettered laptop searches endanger trade secrets, attorney-client communications, and other private information. These groups have signed a letter asking Congress to hold hearings to find out what protocol, if any, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) follows in searching digital devices and copying, storing and using travelers' data. The letter also asks Congress to pass legislation protecting travelers' laptops and smart phones from unlimited government scrutiny.

If privacy at the border is important to you, contact Congress now and ask them to take action!

In the meantime, how can international travelers protect themselves at the U.S. border, short of leaving their laptops and iPhones at home?

Many travelers practice security through obscurity. They simply hope that no border agent will rummage through their private data. Too many people enter the country each day for agents to thoroughly search every device that crosses the border, and there is too much information stored on most devices for agents to find the most revealing and confidential tidbits. But for travelers who may be targeted based on their celebrity, race or other distinguishing factor, obscurity is not an option. As last week's news that Microsoft is giving away forensic tools that can quickly search an entire hard drive on a USB "thumb drive" shows, it won't be long before customs agents can efficiently perform a thorough search on every machine. So long as there are no protocols or oversight for these searches, every traveler's personal information is at risk...


US arms to Pakistan both ‘big ticket’, terror related


Pentagon says military sales to Pakistan worth $4.55bn during 2002-07

By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: Major government-to-government arms sales and grants to Pakistan since 2001 have included items useful for counter-terrorism operations, along with a number of "big ticket" platforms more suited to conventional warfare, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Not a great deal has changed since November 2007 except for the increased value of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for maritime patrol aircraft and the increased value of Foreign Military Sales (FMS) for F-16 armaments. Negotiations on Hawkeye AEW remain inconclusive. Military sales: In dollar value terms, the bulk of purchases is made with Pakistani national funds. The Pentagon reports total FMS agreements with Pakistan worth $4.55 billion for finance years 2002-2007. In-process sales of F-16 combat aircraft and related equipment account for about three-quarters of this figure. The United States also has provided Pakistan with nearly $1.6 billion in FMF since 2001, including scheduled FY2008 funds, with a "base programme" of $300 million per year beginning in FY2005. These funds are used to purchase US military equipment. The CRS said that Pakistan also had been granted US defence supplies as Excess Defence Articles (EDA). Major post-2001 defence supplies paid for with FMF include: eight P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and their refurbishment (valued at $474 million); about 5,250 TOW anti-armour missiles ($186 million); more than 5,600 military radio sets ($163 million); six AN/TPS-77 surveillance radars ($100 million, all delivered and in operation); six C-130E transport aircraft and their refurbishment ($76 million, all delivered and in operation); and 20 AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters granted under EDA, then refurbished ($48 million, 12 delivered, 8 pending refurbishment). The CRS said supplies paid for with a mix of Pakistani national funds and FMF include: up to 60 mid-life update kits for F-16A/B combat aircraft (valued at $891 million, with $108 million of this in FMF - Pakistan's current plans are to purchase 46 of these); and 115 M-109 self-propelled howitzers ($87 million, with $53 million in FMF). Notable items paid for entirely with Pakistani national funds include: 18 new F-16C/D Block 50/52 combat aircraft, with an option for 18 more (valued at $1.43 billion); F-16 armaments including 500 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; 1,450 2,000-pound bombs; 500 JDAM bomb tail kits; and 1,600 Enhanced Paveway laser-guided bomb kits ($667 million); 100 Harpoon anti-ship missiles ($298 million, 70 delivered); 500 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles ($95 million, 300 delivered); and six Phalanx close-in naval guns ($80 million). The CRS said while the Pentagon has notified Congress to the possible transfer to Pakistan of three P-3B aircraft as EDA grants that would be modified to carry the E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning suite in a deal worth up to $855 million, negotiations have not progressed beyond the notification stage. If implemented, FMF could be used towards this purchase. Major EDA grants since 2001 include four F-16A/B combat aircraft (10 more such aircraft will be transferred to Pakistan as they become excess to the US Air Force) and 16 T-37 military trainer jets (20 more are pending). Under Coalition Support Funds (part of the Pentagon budget), Pakistan received 26 Bell 412 helicopters, along with related parts and maintenance, valued at $235 million.
Courtesy Daily Times


Harvard study shows positive impacts of Muslim hajj

Study finds that Muslim pilgrimage experience promotes peace, harmony, women's rights.

HARVARD, Massachusetts – A study on the longer-term effect of participating in the Islamic pilgrimage found that Muslims communities have become more open in many ways after the Hajj experience.
The study, published by Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, says that hajj – Muslim pilgrimage - urges equality and harmony.
"It increases belief in equality and harmony among ethnic groups and Islamic sects and leads to more favorable attitudes toward women, including greater acceptance of female education and employment," the study found.
Entitled 'Estimating the Impact of the Haj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam's Global Gathering', the study also found that the hajj experience promotes peaceful coexistence.
"Increased unity within the Islamic world is not accompanied by antipathy toward non-Muslims," stressed the Harvard study, adding that "Hajjis show increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different religions."
The study, which was based on data from over 1,600 applicants to Pakistan's hajj visa allocation lottery in 2006, can be downloaded here.
The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam that Muslims are expected to perform at least once in their lives if they have the means to do so.

Freedom to Protest: What Does the Proposed Repeal of Sections 132-38 of SOCPA Really Mean?

It seems another consultation on our freedom to assemble and protest is on its way. The House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights has just launched a 'Call for Evidence' in order 'to enquire into the human rights issues arising from policing and protest'. These are some of the questions asked:

• What limits, if any, should be placed on the right to protest and why?

• Should specific limitations be placed on the ability of certain groups to protest? If so, who and why?

• Should the right to protest be more strictly curtailed in relation to certain geographical areas? If yes, where, why and what limits would be acceptable?

• The Government proposes to repeal sections 132-8 SOCPA dealing with protest around Parliament and invites Parliament to consider whether additional provision is needed to ensure that Parliament's work is not disrupted by protests in Parliament Square. What, if any, additional provision is required?

• In what circumstances would it be permissible for the State to take pre-emptive action, which curtailed protests?

• Are existing police powers necessary? Are more or fewer required?

• Are counter-terrorism powers appropriately used in the policing of protests?

• In what circumstances may actions during protests be justifiably criminalised?

• How should the balance be struck between the rights of protesters and other competing interests (such as the rights of others or the prevention of disorder or crime)? Would legislative changes be desirable to strike a better balance between competing rights, or is the current legislative framework about right?

This talk of 'legislative changes' might be the first step for new policies that will allow for a further criminalisation of certain groups who are now protesting against the State and its criminal actions inside and abroad [1]. The introduction of a new set of restrictive laws regarding protest will send a clear message to protesters: "Stay at home and shut up or you might end up in prison". This remains to be seen.

Whether the intention of this consultation is to introduce more draconian legislation or not, the consultation itself should not be conducted in the first place. Our freedoms should never be put to consultation or to a vote, regardless whether a majority votes for or against them. Consultations of this type are just an attempt to give a democratic look to a very undemocratic practice: the removal of individuals' freedoms and rights by the State. It perpetuates the misleading assumption that democracy is based on the rule of the majority. The Italian and German experiences from the 1930s tell us that that is definitely not the case.


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