Friday, January 23, 2009

Israel may abduct Ahmadinejad, Eichmann kidnapper hints

Former Mossad agent Rafi Eitan hinted in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine that Israel may abduct Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in order to bring him before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

"It could very well be that a leader such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suddenly finds himself before the International Criminal Court in The Hague," the Minister for Pensioners' Affairs told the German publication in an interview published Monday.

In an interview surrounding Eitan's recent revelation that The Mossad agents who kidnapped Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann from Argentina in 1960, which he led, knowingly let the notorious death camp doctor Josef Mengele get away, the 81-year-old minister was asked whether the Mossad still hunts Nazi war criminals. In response, Eitan said "that era is over. But that's not to say that such operations are completely a thing of the past."

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Spotlight: The Who - 'Quadrophenia'

The Real Me

From Wikipedia:

Quadrophenia is a 1979 British film based on the 1973 rock opera album Quadrophenia by The Who. The film stars Phil Daniels in the leading role as a Mod named Jimmy. The film also stars Toyah Willcox, Mark Wingett, Leslie Ash, Ray Winstone, Timothy Spall, Gary Holton, Phil Davis, Michael Elphick, Kate Williams, Sting, John Altman and Trevor Laird. It was directed by Franc Roddam in his feature directing debut.

In 2004 the magazine Total Film named Quadrophenia the 35th greatest British film of all time.

The cast were reunited after 28 years at Earls Court on 1st and 2nd September 2007 as part of 'The Quadrophenia Reunion' at the 'London Film & Comic Con' run by Subsequently the cast have agreed to be part of a Quadrophenia Convention at Brighton in 2009.


From QUADCON The Quadrophenia Movie Convention

Welcome to Quadcon.

Home of The Quadrophenia Movie Convention

Featuring actors & crew, talks, lectures autograph sessions and memorabilia this annual convention celebrates the British cult classic - Quadrophenia

The Rock

ARREST BUSH rally on Barack Obama's Inauguration day

Boot Bush Out January 19, 2009

UK: Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001


"To amend the Terrorism Act 2000; to make further provision about terrorism and security; to provide for the freezing of assets; to make provision about immigration and asylum; to amend or extend the criminal law and powers for preventing crime and enforcing that law; to make provision about the control of pathogens and toxins; to provide for the retention of communications data."

[ ... ]

The key element of the bill was the government's determination to find a way to deal with foreign nationals whom the security services suspected of committing, organising or supporting terrorism. Under the European convention on human rights, many of these individuals could not be deported because they came from countries with poor human rights records and faced torture or the death penalty if forced to return. Faced with suspected terrorists who they could neither prosecute nor deport, the government created provisions to indefinitely detain foreign nationals deemed to threaten national security without charging them or bringing them to trial. MPs were told that intelligence services had drawn up a list of approximately 20 Islamic fundamentalists who would be detained when the new legislation came into force.

The act also enables communication service providers to retain data – not content – so that it can be accessed under existing legislation by law agencies investigating criminal and terrorist activity. It was governed by a voluntary Code of Practice later codified into the Retention of Communications Data (Code of Practice) Order 2003, which was developed in consultation with the Information Commissioner and industry.

Communications data can include the identity and location of the caller, texter or web user. The government emphasised retained data was a vital tool for the security services and was necessary in order to safeguard national security and investigate crime.

In order to shepherd the bill through the House of Lords, the government made a series of concessions including a "sunset clause" for the controversial detention provisions and the communications data clause that meant elements of the act would expire unless they were renewed within five years. Other clauses in the act would be reviewed by a privy council committee after two years, and any areas the committee had concerns about would be referred to and debated in parliament. If they were not reaffirmed they would cease to be law within six months.

The most controversial element of the bill proved to be the government's attempt to make a new criminal offence of inciting religious hatred. The home secretary was forced to abandon the provisions, which would have extended race hate laws to cover religion, after peers twice voted against the measure.

In October 2008, prime minister Gordon Brown invoked elements of the act to freeze the British assets of Icelandic bank Landsbanki during the Icelandic financial crisis.

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Vatican may join EU anti-terrorism body

The Vatican is considering whether to join the European Union's anti-terrorism body, Eurojust, in a bid to increase security, an official said Saturday.

Vatican City's chief prosecutor, Nicola Picardi, said the increased threat of international terrorism required new forms of cooperation among countries.

In October, the Vatican successfully joined Interpol, and the Vatican's Gendarmeria has been attending meetings of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe since 2006, he said.

While only 492 people live in Vatican City, some 18 million pilgrims and tourists pass through Bernini's splendid colonnade to enter St. Peter's Basilica or visit the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums each year.

As a result, crime does happen here — Pope John Paul II survived an assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square 1981.

Nowadays, though, the most serious crimes usually involve petty theft. Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, however, security measures have been significantly beefed up, with visitors now required to pass through metal detectors to enter the Basilica and attend audiences with the pope.

Picardi, the Vatican's so-called "promoter of justice," proposed the Eurojust membership as he outlined the state of law and order in the tribunals of the Vatican city-state during a ceremony to start the Vatican's judicial year.

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Iceland may take UK to European court over freezing of bank assets

The Icelandic government is examining "all possibilities" of dragging the British government before the European court of human rights over its decision to use anti-terror laws against the bank Landsbanki, it emerged today.

The move, revealed in a statement by the office of Iceland's prime minister, Geir Haarde, follows legal advice that a claim for damages in the UK courts would be unlikely to succeed.

Reykjavik is looking at the European court as an "alternative option" to seek redress over Gordon Brown's decision to use the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 to seize assets.

Relations between the countries were strained in October after the Financial Services Authority swooped in to protect British depositors shortly after Iceland's banking sector fell under the weight of bad debts.

Brown at the time branded Iceland's refusal to guarantee British savings in Icelandic banks "totally unacceptable and illegal", and resorted to anti-terrorism powers.

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Italy antiterror law stunts Wi-Fi, critics say

Italy's antiterrorism law, renewed by government decree at the beginning of this year, is being accused of stifling the development of Wi-Fi technology in the country.

The law, named after Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu, who introduced it in 2005 after the London bombings, obliges the operators of public Wi-Fi services and Internet cafés to keep a record of the identities of all their clients and a log of their Internet traffic for possible consultation by the police.

Critics say the law, intended to help the police combat the use of the Internet by terrorists and criminals, is hurting the development of Wi-Fi by making it difficult and costly for businesses to offer Internet access to their clients. Those intending to do so have to register for a special license with their local police headquarters.

"There are a total of 4806 public access Wi-Fi hotspots in Italy. In France there are five times as many," noted Lorenzo Gennarin, writing in Italy's Web site on public administration issues. "This decree is considered by many as one of the principal reasons why it is so rare here to be able to connect to Internet from a bar, a restaurant, a square or a railway station, while that is normal in other European countries and North America."

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Remembering indigenous resistance

From History of Indigenous resistance

January 26 is the first Invasion Day (Australia Day) since the federal Labor government made the official apology recognising the wrongs suffered by the Stolen Generations - the Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families and lands.

The inequality between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians in life expectancy, child mortality and quality of life was also acknowledged in that apology. However, the promised changes it contained have not materialised. In fact, living conditions for some Aboriginal people have grown worse.

On January 26, 2008, with the newly elected Labor government's promised apology close at hand, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said: “Australia Day is a time to celebrate our nation's past achievements and it's a time to embrace our nation's future. We should be deeply proud of our country. Proud of Aboriginal culture, which represents the oldest continuing culture in human history.”

Those comments, made on a date that marks the arrival in 1788 of European settlers and the beginning of 220 ugly years of Aboriginal dispossession, were ironic. It is why many people who oppose the racism that continues to be suffered by Australia's Indigenous population prefer the term “Invasion Day” for this most celebrated of national public holidays.

The government apology to the Stolen Generations had been demanded by the Aboriginal rights movement since 1997.

In 1995-96, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission conducted the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. Sir Ronald Wilson and Aboriginal activist Mick Dodson co-chaired the inquiry, with the assistance of co-commissioners in all states.

The inquiry provided many Indigenous people with a long-withheld opportunity to tell their harrowing life stories. It produced, in 1997, the Bringing Them Home report. In that report, which contained 54 recommendations, Social Justice Commissioner Dodson said that any response “was fundamentally flawed without an expression of real regret that would be evidenced by a national apology”.

The demand for a national apology was denied outright by then-prime minister John Howard. Howard tried to deny the extensive injustices suffered by Aboriginal people and to cloak Aboriginal related policy issues in the language of “history wars” in which any acknowledgement of past wrongs was dismissed as a “black armband” view of history.

The now generally condemned removal of Aboriginal children from their families, carried out by governments over many decades, was a tactic adopted only after a much longer period of attempted genocide in the form of dispossession, segregation and assimilation.

The first historically significant act of British colonisation was the widespread dispossession of Australia's Aboriginal people of their land and customs. The doctrine of terra nullius - meaning an empty land without a sovereign power - served as the legal justification for this process.

This claim, that the land belonged to no one - that is, the European concept of ownership was not in force before white occupation - rendered Aboriginal people non-existent and without rights. It also allowed large parts of the country to be declared crown land, with any resistance to this claim rendered an act of rebellion.

Over the next century, with the help of the colonial laws, Aboriginal people were forced off their land by white settlers and became economically and socially marginalised. Any resistance to this process was met with brutal repression and punishment, including horrific massacres. This violence was not merely sanctioned but often mandated by the state.

From Piece of indigenous history recognised

A former work camp in a dusty corner of the outback has been declared an historic site because of its significance to the Aboriginal fight for equality and fair pay.

The Union Camp at Newcastle Waters, about 270km north of Tennant Creek, was home to the first Aboriginal employees and their families to protest for equal rights and pay in 1966.

Although they lost their strike action, their voices started a groundswell of resistance to the appalling working standards imposed on black Australia.

It led to a push for equality by Aborigines and resulted in legislation at both the Northern Territory and commonwealth levels.

Union Camp was on Friday recognised as a site of historical significance under the Heritage Protection Act.

It now includes the remnants of two buildings, several small shelters and the remains of a tank stand.

"The strike focused national attention on the entitlements of workers on pastoral properties across the Northern Territory," said NT Heritage Minister Alison Anderson.

"This strike, and other strikes across Australia, helped build momentum and public awareness of issues such as equal wages, housing, education and land rights."

The camp was established in 1966 after several Aboriginal workers and their families walked off Newcastle Waters Station.

This provided the catalyst for similar action at Wave Hill, where 200 Aboriginal stockmen and their families returned to the bush rather than continue as servants of the British-owned station Vesteys.

From Aboriginal resistance fighters gain recognition

Anarchist Joseph Toscano, who yesterday convened a commemoration ceremony to mark the 167th anniversary of the execution opposite the City Baths, is lobbying Melbourne City Council to erect a monument to acknowledge their place in the state's history.

"Theirs is a great Melbourne story of love, resistance, passion and violence, which is much more significant, in my opinion, than the story of Ned Kelly," Dr Toscano said.

"Everyone in Australia knows about Geronimo and Sitting Bull because of crappy TV, but no one knows about this country's indigenous fathers."

Dr Toscano said Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were among 16 Tasmanian Aborigines who were brought to Melbourne in 1839 by the protector of Aborigines, George Robinson, to "civilise" the Victorian Aborigines.

In late 1841, the two men and three women, stole two guns and waged a six-week guerilla-style campaign in the Dandenongs and on the Mornington Peninsula, burning stations and killing two sealers.

They were charged with murder and tried in Melbourne. Their defence counsel was Redmond Barry, who questioned the legal basis of British authority over Aborigines. (Thirty-nine years later, Barry would sentence Ned Kelly to hang.)

The women were acquitted and the men found guilty, although the jury made a plea for clemency on account of the "peculiar circumstances".

Judge Willis ignored the request and the men were hanged in front of 5000 people — a quarter of Victoria's white population — from gallows erected on a small rise near what is now the corner of Bowen and Franklin streets. Their bodies are buried under the Queen Victoria Market.

From Civil unrest could undermine Morales's young administration

“Get down on your knees dirty llama-face Indians and swear your allegiance to the city of Sucre” – the words of a group of young men as they forced 50 indigenous men and women to undress in the centre of a town square and burn the flags of their Quechua identity.

Four months later, on September 11th, 2008, 19 indigenous men and women were killed by armed civilians as they attempted to make their way to a demonstration in support of the government of Evo Morales in the province of Pando.

The incident, described in an independent investigation by the Union of South American Nations as a “massacre”, took place in a wider atmosphere of civil violence.

Groups loyal to the opposition, largely located in the country's eastern provinces, occupied and vandalised state property and damaged gas pipelines in an attempt to destabilise the Morales government.

“There are lots of powerful groups in Bolivia with strong economic, political, and social interests,” says Alex Contreras, former spokesman for President Evo Morales.

“Up until three years ago, these groups were the 'untouchables'; they could do whatever they wanted with Bolivia.

“But now that the country is going through a process of change these powerful interests are being affected.”

Most of the opposition is based in the four eastern provinces of the country – Santa Cruz, Tarija, Pando and Beni – where a large proportion of the country's material wealth, including oil and gas reserves, is located.

An imaginary retrospective of 2009

It was the year when people finally gave up trying to predict the year ahead. It was the year when every forecast had to be revised - usually downwards - at least three times. It was the year when the paradox of globalisation was laid bare for all to see, if their eyes weren't tightly shut.

On the one hand, the increasing integration of markets for commodities, manufactures, labour and capital had led to great gains. As Adam Smith had foreseen in The Wealth of Nations, economic liberalisation had allowed the division of labour and comparative advantage to operate on a global scale. From the 1980s until 2007, the world economy had enjoyed higher, more widespread growth and fewer, less severe crises - hence Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's hubristic celebration of a "great moderation" in 2004.

On the other hand, the more the world came to resemble an intricate, multi-nodal network operating at maximum efficiency - with minimal inventories and just-in-time delivery - the more vulnerable it became to a massive systemic crash.

That was the true significance of the Great Repression which began in August 2007 and reached its nadir in 2009. It was clearly not a Great Depression on the scale of the 1930s, when output in the US declined by as much as a third and unemployment reached 25 per cent. Nor was it merely a Big Recession. As output in the developed world continued to decline throughout 2009 - despite the best efforts of central banks and finance ministries - the tag "Great Repression" seemed more and more apt: although this was the worst economic crisis in 70 years, many people remained in deep denial about it.

"We assumed that we economists had learned how to combat this kind of crisis," admitted one of President Barack Obama's "dream team" of economic advisers, shortly after his return to academic life in September 2009. "We thought that if the Fed injected enough liquidity into the financial system, we could avoid deflation. We thought if the government ran a big enough deficit, we could end a recession. It turned out we were wrong. So much for [John Maynard] Keynes. So much for [Milton] Friedman."

The root of the problem remained the US's property bubble, which continued to deflate throughout the year. Many people had assumed that by the end of 2008 the worst must be over. It was not. Economist Robert Shiller's real home price index in 2006 had stood at just under 206, nearly double its level just six years earlier. To return to its pre-bubble level, it therefore had to fall by 50 per cent. Barely half that decline had taken place by the end of 2008. So house prices continued to slide in the US. As they did, more and more families found themselves in negative equity, with debts exceeding the value of their homes. In turn, rising foreclosures translated into bigger losses on mortgage-backed securities and yet more red ink on banks' balance sheets.

With total debt above 350 per cent of US gross domestic product, the excesses of the age of leverage proved difficult to purge. Households reined in their consumption. Banks sought to restrict new lending. The recession deepened. Unemployment rose towards 10 per cent, and then higher. The economic downward spiral seemed unstoppable. No matter how hard they saved, Americans simply could not stabilise the ratio of their debts to their disposable incomes. The paradox of thrift meant that rising savings translated into falling consumer demand, which led to rising unemployment, falling incomes and so on, ever downwards.

"Necessity will be the mother of invention," Obama declared in his inaugural address on January 20. "By investing in innovation, we can restore our faith in American creativity. We need to build new schools, not new shopping malls. We need to produce clean energy, not dirty derivatives." Commentators agreed that the speech was on a par with Franklin Roosevelt's on his inauguration in 1933. Yet Roosevelt had spoken after the worst of the Depression was over, Obama in mid-tailspin. The rhetoric flew high. But the markets sank lower. The contagion spread inexorably from subprime to prime mortgages, to commercial real estate, to corporate bonds and back to the financial sector. By the end of June, Standard & Poor's 500 Index had sunk to 624, its lowest monthly close since January 1996, and about 60 per cent below its October 2007 peak.

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Whither now, Patriot Act?

From Under Obama, feds may still snoop library files

President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for attorney general has endorsed an extension of the law that allows federal agents to demand Americans' library and bookstore records as part of terrorism probes, dismaying a national group of independent booksellers.

Eric Holder said at his confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he supports renewing a section of the USA Patriot Act that allows FBI agents investigating international terrorism or espionage to seek records from businesses, libraries and bookstores. If not renewed by Congress, the provision will expire at the end of 2009.

The searches must be authorized by a court that meets secretly and has approved the government's requests in nearly all cases, according to congressional reports. The target of the search does not have to be suspected of terrorism or any other crime. A permanent gag order that accompanies each search prohibits the business or library from telling anyone about it.

Holder said he realizes the provision has been controversial and he will seek more information from department staff before making a final decision, if confirmed as attorney general. He didn't elaborate on his support for the law, but said at another point in the hearing that his top priority would be to protect Americans from terrorism, using "every available tactic ... within the letter and spirit of the Constitution."

"I was disappointed" that Holder supports the bookstore and library searches, "although maybe not entirely surprised," Chris Finan, spokesman for the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, said Friday.

The provision Holder wants Congress to renew, known as Section 215, "gives the government far too much power to conduct fishing expeditions in the records of bookstore customers and library patrons," Finan said. "We never expected that the change of administration would mean we had any less of a fight on our hands."

From US Attorney affirms support for Patriot Act

Montana's U.S. attorney affirmed his support for the Patriot Act during a presentation Thursday to state lawmakers.

[ ... ]

One provision of the federal law gives the government the right to wiretap Americans' phone conversations.

Mercer says the enforcement of some of the act's provisions may need to be examined, but he thinks Congress was correct to reauthorize the act.

From Anti-terror law invoked

Many of the more than 200 people convicted under airline anti-terrorism provisions of the 2001 USA Patriot Act engaged only in profanity or drunken behavior, not attempts to hijack a plane or commit violence, according to a report published Jan. 20.

Those convicted include a Lakewood man accused of arguing with a flight attendant who believed he was indulging in sexual activity, and a woman who spanked her two children and angrily threw a can at the ground when confronted by a flight attendant, the Los Angeles Times said.

“We have gone completely berserk on this issue,” said Charles Slepian, a New York security consultant. “These are not threats to national security or threats to aircraft, but we use that as an excuse.”

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said convictions are pursued only when the facts and circumstances of a particular case warrant such action. Restraining such behavior has helped improve airline security, he said.

FAA regulations have long given flight crews wide discretion in controlling unruly behavior. The Patriot Act, passed within two months of the Sept. 11 attacks, gave law enforcement sweeping new powers.

One provision defines disruptive behavior on an airline as a terrorist act. Another broadened existing criminal law so any attempt or conspiracy to interfere with a flight crew became a felony.

Carl Persing of Lakewood said he was just resting his head because of illness in the lap of his girlfriend on a 2006 flight to Raleigh, N.C., but the FBI said the couple engaged in a variety of sexual activities.

A flight attendant said in an affidavit she twice asked them to stop, and Persing responded, “Get out of my face,” and later said, “You and I are going to have a serious confrontation when we get off this plane.”

Persing denied making the statement, but the couple was arrested. Charges were later dropped against his girlfriend, but Persing was sentenced to 12 months probation.

From President Obama, repeal the Patriot Act

As president, you will be faced with the difficult challenge of winning over voters like me, who disagree with your views on social, economic and foreign policy.

However, you said it yourself countless times that your presidency is about change, about the political grassroots network you have attempted to foster and about being a president who unites differences.

Mr. President, in order to fulfill the oath you are taking to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," it is vital to repeal the USA Patriot Act and further legislation infringing on our rights as American citizens.

Now, as a professor imparting constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for 12 years, you should be able to easily follow my qualms with this type of legislation. The original Patriot Act was passed on Oct. 26, 2001, and had many forms of constitutional breaches, such as hidden wiretaps, and searches and seizures without a warrant bypass the Fourth Amendment. The National Security Letter in that same statute demands records without a court order of United States citizens' library records while proceeding to put a gag order on the librarians, again violating the Fourth Amendment. You might say, "Well, Mr. Bajek, I voted yes in important revisions to the Patriot Act that was renewed in 2006 to protect your and other Americans freedoms." Well, there are inconsistencies with that reply.

Chip Pitts, an international attorney and lecturer at Stanford University Law School, still sees flaws in the law. During its revision, he writes in The Nation that the Patriot Act still violates the First Amendment (peaceful dissent), the Fifth (potentially indefinite detention without due process), and Sixth (speedy trial guarantees).

[ ... ]

Marrero is right, President Obama. One piece of future legislation being considered now is the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. This bill, if passed, would broaden the range of the term "terrorist" to include anyone who could use strong-armed tactics to force the government to change policy; thus, limiting our First Amendment rights of protest.

Esref Armagan - The artist with no eyes

Economists turn to YouTube for answers

From Evan Essence's report in The Spoof:

The startling and unbelievable accuracy of the predictions by Lindsey Williams, regarding the true reasons for the drastic changes in oil prices, over the last year, has turned him into a true Internet celebrity.

Lindsey Williams has become the number one most searched video on YouTube New Zealand. Now, mainstream economists, from around the world, are logging on to watch Alex Jones interview Lindsey Williams.

Economics is often referred to as the "Dismal Science", in part because it has such a dismal record of making any accurate predictions of market trends.

Foremost market commentator, Jim Cramer, who failed to predict October's record global stockmarket crash, until 2 days before it happened...was quoted by Barron's last week, as saying "Gee, golly....if only I had logged onto Youtube, and listened to the financial minister of Ireland, last June, predict that the entire global financial system would collapse in September....(well... it didn't actually collapse until a week later...the first week in October)....I would have saved my clients billions of dollars in losses." ...


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