Friday, June 12, 2009

EU security proposals are 'dangerously authoritarian'

By Bruno Waterfield (Telegraph)

Civil liberties groups say the proposals would create an EU ID card register, internet surveillance systems, satellite surveillance, automated exit-entry border systems operated by machines reading biometrics and risk profiling systems.

Europe's justice ministers will hold talks on the "domestic security policy" and surveillance network proposals, known in Brussels circles as the "Stockholm programme", on July 15 with the aim of finishing work on the EU's first ever internal security policy by the end of 2009.

Jacques Barrot, the European justice and security commissioner, yesterday publicly declared that the aim was to "develop a domestic security strategy for the EU", once regarded as a strictly national "home affairs" area of policy.

"National frontiers should no longer restrict our activities," he said.

Mark Francois, Conservative spokesman on Europe, has demanded "immediate clarity on where the government stands on this".

[ ... ]

Critics of the plans have claimed that moves to create a new "information system architecture" of Europe-wide police and security databases will create a "surveillance state".

Tony Bunyan, of the European Civil Liberties Network (ECLN), has warned that EU security officials are seeking to harness a "digital tsunami" of new information technology without asking "political and moral questions first".

"An increasingly sophisticated internal and external security apparatus is developing under the auspices of the EU," he said.

Mr Bunyan has suggested that existing and new proposals will create an EU ID card register, internet surveillance systems, satellite surveillance, automated exit-entry border systems operated by machines reading biometrics and risk profiling systems.

"In five or 10 years time when we have the surveillance and database state people will look back and ask, 'what were you doing in 2009 to stop this happening?'," he said.

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ACLU sues to show White House interrogation link

Larry Neumeister (Associated Press)

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the U.S. government Thursday to try to prove there is a close link between the White House under President George W. Bush and a program of rough interrogation techniques used against suspected terrorists.

The ACLU said in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that it wanted to force the public release of all records on the subject issued by former President Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials.

Defendants named in the lawsuit were the CIA, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and the Department of State.

On Monday, CIA Director Leon Panetta said in court papers responding to a related lawsuit that releasing documents about the agency's terror interrogations would gravely damage national security.

A Justice Department probe is under way to learn more about the CIA's destruction of 92 videotapes of detainee interrogations that took place in 2002. Officials have said a dozen of those tapes show so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, which critics call torture.

Yusill Scribner, a spokeswoman for government lawyers in Manhattan, declined to comment. A message for comment left with the Justice Department in Washington was not immediately returned.

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Gitmo suicide had been prisoners' representative

Almost five months before he was found dead at Guantanamo Bay, a detainee volunteered to represent prisoners in talks with the military and left his jailhouse for a meeting with the detention camp's most senior commanders. But he never returned — from then on, he was held in the prison's psychiatric ward, a former detainee recalled.

Mohammad Ahmed Abdullah Saleh Al Hanashi died in the ward this month in what the military has called an apparent suicide — the fifth since the prison opened and the first on President Barack Obama's watch.

Andrew O. Selsky reports for the Associated Press:

The U.S. military has refused to say how Saleh allegedly killed himself in the closely watched psychiatric ward. But the former detainee, Binyam Mohamed, said it wasn't like him to commit suicide.

"He was patient and encouraged others to be the same," Mohamed said. "He never viewed suicide as a means to end his despair."

Even if it was suicide, Mohamed still classifies the death as "murder, or unlawful killing, whichever way you look at it," saying that the U.S. had caused Saleh to lose hope by locking him up indefinitely without charges.

Mohamed was transferred in February to Britain, which released him. His account, sent to The Associated Press Wednesday by one of his lawyers, provides some details about the dead man's detention for the first time.

Mohamed said Saleh left their high-security Camp 5 jailhouse for a meeting on Jan. 17 with Rear Adm. David Thomas and Army Col. Bruce Vargo. Thomas is the top commander of the military's joint task force that runs the prison and related operations in Cuba. Vargo commands the joint detention group.

It is unclear what happened at the meeting, or if it came off at all. But Mohamed, who himself was asked by the military to be a prisoners' representative but declined, said Saleh never returned to Camp 5 and was instead put into Guantanamo's Behavioral Health Unit, where detainees with mental problems are held and closely monitored.

Asked about the meeting, Guantanamo's spokesman said it is not unusual for detainees to speak with the commanders of the task force and the detention group. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brook DeWalt declined to give details.

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Genesis revisited: Darkness and evil

By Martin LeFevre (Scoop)

...“And the serpent said unto the woman, “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Was the writer of Genesis, which contains passages of great spiritual power and poetry, telling a children's story? Or was his meaning subtler, “more subtle than any beast of the field that the Lord God had made?”

“The day thou eatest of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt surely die,” God said. Something died all right that allegorical day in Eden, but it was the bliss of ignorance in the animal state.

Disregarding the claptrap about the Bible being the literal “word of God,” what was the author of this narrative, entitled “Punishment for Disobedience” in the King James Version, attempting to convey to people?

Clearly, humans did not become human until we ate “of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Therefore, prohibition and punishment make no sense.

Nor does it make sense that humans became human by disobeying God's command that they not eat from that metaphorical tree. Why does the writer of Genesis have a serpent tempting humans to become human, thereby beginning the journey to “be as gods?”

God's alleged injunction was clearly meant as a warning: 'Begin down this path and you cannot turn back.'

Darkness has two aspects; but evil has only one. There is both an individual and collective content to darkness. The individual content is all the negative things we've inherited through our families, lineages, and cultures.

This is the accumulation of fear, hate, envy, violence, and prejudice that we've absorbed, both as 'original sin' from childhood conditioning, and from our own unaddressed negligence and wrongdoing.

Collective darkness, on the other hand, is the sum total of the harmful content within a people, and human consciousness. Evil is the intentional component of collective darkness. ...

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CDC vaccine advisor pockets $29 million promoting vaccines

(NaturalNews) Dr. Paul Offit of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) received at least $29 million from his share of royalties for Merck's Rotateq vaccine after using his position with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that childhood vaccination with the vaccine became compulsory.

According to a report on the Web site "Age of Autism," a review of CHOP's royalties schedules reveals that Offit likely received between $29 million and $55 million for his work developing the Rotateq vaccine for rotavirus, which causes diarrhea in infants. Because the vaccine is jointly owned by CHOP and by the Wistar Institute but Offit is the only inventor listed on the patent from CHOP, he received 100 percent of inventor's rights payments from CHOP.

"Clearly, based on the distribution of income rights outlined in [CHOP's policies], Paul Offit had a greater personal interest in Rotateq's commercial success than any other single individual in the world," article authors Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill write. "And more than other individual in the world, he found himself in a position to directly influence that success."

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Musical Innerlube: Georges Pilali - 'O Teketzis'

Blues-rebetiko fusion

WHO declares influenza A (H1N1) ’swine flu’ a pandemic

An emergency meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) has ended by declaring the influenza A(H1N1) or “swine flu” outbreak a global pandemic.

According to the world's peak health body more than 28,000 cases of influenza A (H1N1) have been reported globally and over 141 confirmed deaths.

In at least two regions of the world the virus is spreading, with rising cases being seen in the UK, Australia, Japan and Chile.

One factor which prompted the move to a level six pandemic was that in the southern hemisphere, the virus seems to be crowding out normal seasonal influenza.

Influenza A(H1N1) first emerged in Mexico in April and has since spread to 74 countries.

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