Monthly Archives: August 2006

U.S. offers $20 million for better PR on Iraq

U.S. military leaders in Baghdad have put out for bid a two-year, $20million public-relations contract that calls for extensive monitoring of U.S. and Middle Eastern media in an effort to promote more positive coverage of news from Iraq. The contract calls for assembling a database of selected news stories and assessing their tone, according to a statement of work attached to the proposal. The proposal, which in part calls for extensive monitoring and analysis of Iraqi, Middle East and U.S. media, is designed to help coalition forces understand the “communications environment.” Its goal is to “develop communication strategies and tactics, identify opportunities and execute events . . . to effectively communicate Iraqi government and coalition’s goals and build support among our strategic audiences in achieving these goals,” according to the statement of work that is publicly available.

The scientists who claim they can create free energy

Heard the one about the two Irishmen who say they can produce limitless amounts of clean, free energy? Plenty of scientists have – but few are taking them seriously. Do you remember that awful feeling as a child on Christmas Day when Santa left you the toy you wanted . . . without any batteries? This feeling comes to me as I meet Sean McCarthy and Richard Walshe, two men making the claim that they are about to change the world – for ever.

iPod sparks terror scare in Ottawa

NEVER MIND snakes on planes, the biggest risk to aircraft is World of Warcraft players accidentally flushing their iPods down the toilets. A suspicious package was found in an aircraft bog on a flight from Chicago on Tuesday afternoon, the plane landed safely and was isolated away from the terminal. The official line was that passengers were taken off the plane and questioned by police. Experts investigated the ‘package’, which turned out to be an iPod.

Kremlin to blame for Beslan deaths, claims Russian MP

Mr Savalyev’s 700-page report, Beslan: the Hostages’ Truth, contradicts the official account, which is that the school was not deliberately stormed and that it was the hostage-takers, not special forces, who detonated the two explosive devices that triggered the gunfight.

The Chechen rebel who apparently masterminded the siege – Shamil Basayev – was killed last month in an explosion that the Kremlin claims was the result of a special operation. The search for his personal archive and an estimated $7m (£3.7m) in cash has apparently led the authorities to abduct his last wife, whose identity and existence was a mystery until very recently. Elina Ersenoyeva, 26, was snatched by masked gunmen on 17 August and has not been heard from since.

Russian Expert Doubts Official Version of Beslan Tragedy
A member of the Russian parliamentary commission for investigation of the hostage crisis in Beslan has published a report claiming that Russian secret services had fired rocket-propelled grenades at the school with hostages before the terrorists were able to detonate their bombs.


Law enforcement helped Beslan gang
Torshin said the suspects included officials ranking “higher than major.”
Russian law enforcement officials allegedly helped terrorists to carry out last September’s school massacre in Beslan, Russia, that left 344 people dead, according to the head of a special parliamentary commission.
Alexander Torshin, the head of the commission investigating the fatal hostage taking, told Russian media that two accomplices already have been detained, three are being sought and authorities are preparing the legal work to detain two more. Torshin said the suspects included officials ranking “higher than major.”

Russian Officers Helped Terrorists Seize Beslan School — Commission
The Russian parliamentary commission investigating the Beslan school siege has passed over to law enforcement agencies evidence on two more officials suspected of helping the militants seize the school in early September 2004, the commission head was quoted as saying by Interfax on Thursday. “Two accomplices have already been arrested, three have had arrest warrants issued for them and are now being looked for, and there are two more on whom we have handed over material,” Alexander Torshin, chairman of the commission and a deputy speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, told reporters. “A terrorist act on such a scale would have been impossible to commit without accomplices.”

Russian Police Tried for Criminal Negligence After Beslan School Siege

Second Beslan reporter drugged
Concern over Russia’s treatment of journalists covering the Beslan siege increased yesterday after a toxicologist revealed that traces of a tranquilliser had been found in a reporter who was arrested on her way to the school.
Nana Lezhava, from Georgia’s independent Rustavi-2 TV station, described how she slept for 24 hours after drinking coffee in a holding cell. She had been accused of violating visa rules. Gela Lezhava, the head of the oversight board at a Georgian drug research institute, told a news conference that urine samples taken from the reporter showed traces of tranquillisers. He said he suspected that the journalist was drugged by the Russian authorities. The revelation came two days after the renowned Russian investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya claimed she had been drugged while on a flight to Beslan from Moscow. She said she became drowsy after taking tea on the plane and woke up in hospital, where a nurse told her she had been drugged, but that the records had been destroyed. International watchdogs said this week that the detention of several journalists travelling to and from the school siege raised new concerns about press freedom in Russia.

Russian Lawmaker Blames Beslan Deaths on Security Forces
A Russian lawmaker is claiming that security forces used heavy weapons, such as flame-throwers, during the Beslan school siege, contradicting official findings that no such weapons were used while hostages were inside the school

Beslan Survivors Say Men in Police Uniforms Helped Hostage-Takers Flee
Many gunmen who had taken hundreds of schoolchildren and their parents hostage in the South Russian town of Beslan a year ago owe their escape from the school stormed by the security forces to people dressed in police uniforms, a former hostage, Inga Kharebova, told a court where the only hostage-taker detained by the authorities — Nurpasha Kulayev — is currently facing trial.

Local police may have helped terrorists plan Russian siege
The militants who seized a school in Russia, killing more than 350 people may have had help from local police, an official admitted yesterday.

Russian apartment bombings
FSB involvement
The Ryazan incident on September 22, 1999 prompted the initial speculation in the Western press that the Moscow bombings were orgaqnized by the FSB, the Russian intelligence service. In Russia, the nickname “Mr. Hexogen” has come to be applied to President Vladimir Putin, the former head of the FSB. The FSB was caught by local police and citizens in the city of Ryazan planting a bomb with a detonator in the basement of an apartment building at the address of 14/16 Novosyelov on the night of September 22, 1999.

Terror in Russia: Myths and Facts
In 1999, four apartment buildings were blown up in Russia at a cost of 300 lives. The bombings were attributed to Chechens and the attack galvanized the Russian population behind a new invasion of Chechnya. The war, in turn, elevated the political fortunes of the then prime minister, Vladimir Putin, who was subsequently elected president.
From the start, however, there have been doubts about the bombings fostered by strong evidence that it was not Chechens who were responsible but, on the contrary, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

These doubts call into question not just the legitimacy of the Second Chechen War but of the Russian political situation as a whole.  Contrary to official statements, the evidence of FSB involvement in the 1999 bombings is anything but insignificant. The explosive used in the four bombings was hexogen, which is used for topping off a new generation of Russian artillery shells. Hexogen is produced in only two factories in Russia, both of which are tightly guarded by the FSB. More disturbing, FSB agents were actually caught planting a bomb in the basement of a fifth building in the city of Ryazan. After they were arrested by local authorities, Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the FSB, offered the bizarre explanation that the bomb had been planted by the FSB as part of a training exercise to test the residents’ “vigilance.”

KGB’s Terror Bombings in Moscow, Volgodonsk, Buinaksk and Ryazan 1999

Secret at the heart of Putin’s rise to power
The Russian authorities were swift to lay the blame at the door of Chechen separatists. But no supporting evidence has emerged. Two men from the Caucasus were convicted of involvement after a closed trial this year, but it was widely denounced as a charade. Instead a growing body of proof has surfaced that links the bombings, and the Ryazan incident in particular, to the FSB – the revamped KGB. Independent investigators, including several MPs, who have sought to look into the case have been intimidated, arrested or beaten. Analysts and investigators claim that President Vladimir Putin, who was FSB chief until August of that year and subsequently prime minister, must know the truth.

Putin foe links him to ’99 bombings
Tycoon says Russia was behind deadly blasts blamed on Chechens

Man ‘who crossed the Mafia’ forced to watch his family die

He was under investigation for allegedly acting as the financial manager for an ’Ndrangheta clan which smuggled young girls from Eastern Europe to work in nightclubs.
Police are hunting the killers of a businessman who is believed to have crossed the Calabrian Mafia and then suffered the terrifying consequences. Angelo Cottarelli, 56, was still alive when he was found, but with his throat cut almost to the point of decapitation, in the basement of his home in Brescia, northern Italy, on Monday. Police also found the bodies of his wife, 41, and his son, 17, who had been shot twice in the head as well as having their throats cut. Investigators, who have spent the past two days combing the house for clues, have established that Signor Cottarelli was forced to watch his family being murdered. They believe it was an “exemplary killing” by a crime syndicate keen to advertise its ruthlessness.

Nicotine content in cigarettes up 10 percent in last six years


In Kool, nicotine levels rose by more than 20 percent

Cigarettes are the only products, which kill more than half the consumers that buy them. In such a scenario increasing the nicotine content in cigarettes to get more people hooked seems diabolical.
Nicotine levels in cigarettes manufactured in the US have increased by 10 percent over the last six years, a report by the Massachusetts Department of Health said Tuesday. Nicotine is the main component in cigarettes that is responsible for increasing addiction in smokers. Massachusetts Department of Public Health researchers said even the nicotine levels that could be inhaled increased in cigarettes between 1998 and 2004. The increase in nicotine was uniform and did not spare the so-called light brands either. Massachusetts is one of three U.S. states to require tobacco companies to submit information about nicotine levels in cigarettes. It is also the only state in the country to have data going back to 1998. The current study found that the three most popular cigarette brands; Marlboro, Newport and Camel, had significantly more nicotine in them than they did years ago. In Kool, nicotine levels rose by more than 20 percent, the report said. States have taken stringent measures against smoking and have banned public smoking. Yet the rates of smoking addiction continue to climb. Perhaps the answer lies in

US Cigarettes Have 10% More Nicotine Today Than Six Years Ago

The only conclusion one could come to is that the tobacco industry has taken steps to secure sales by making people more addicted.

All tobacco brands have been increasing the nicotine dosage in each cigarette steadily during the last six years, says a report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The overall increase has been about 10% during 1998-2004. The higher the nicotine dose, the more hooked you get – it is much more difficult to quit. The only conclusion one could come to is that the tobacco industry has taken steps to secure sales by making people more addicted.
If the tobacco industry has been upping the nicotine dose in each cigarette:
1. Why has it been doing this?
2. Why has it been kept quiet?
This is terrible news for smokers who are trying to quit – to find out they are hooked to much higher levels of daily nicotine.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Executive Office of Health and Human Services
Department of Public Health


  • Overall, nicotine yields increased ten percent from 1998 – 2004.
  • As of 2004, 93 percent of all cigarette brands were rated high nicotine.
  • Marlboro, Newport, and Camel, the three most popular brands chosen by young smokers, all delivered significantly more nicotine.
  • Kool, a popular menthol brand, increased 20 percent. 
  • More than two-thirds of African American smokers use menthol brands.
  • Increased levels of nicotine may make it more difficult for the average smoker to quit.
  • Increased levels of nicotine consumed by pregnant women can lead to developmental delays in childhood as well as low birth weight infants. 
  • Nicotine changes the way that insulin works in the body.  
  • Smoking raises blood sugar levels, placing smokers at higher risk for developing diabetes and making it harder for those who already have diabetes to control blood sugar levels. 
  • Medications designed to treat asthma, high blood pressure, and depression can lose their effectiveness in combination with nicotine.

Blair’s party tripled spending on PR




British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labor Party has tripled what it spends on public relations to $613 million a year from $211 million, Conservatives said. The taxpayer money funds more than 3,200 press officers, the minority politicians said, citing official government figures. By contrast, before the Labor Party came into power in a landslide victory in 1997, slightly more than 300 press officers worked for the government, The Daily Telegraph of London reported.

60 years on, it’s safe to tell Nazi jokes


“The new race will be slim like Göring, blond like Hitler and tall like Goebbels.”

By the end of the war, a joke could get you killed
A BOOK of jokes told during the Nazi era goes on sale this week, breaking a long-standing taboo in Germany and — according to its author — demonstrating that Germans were not taken in by Hitler. Heil Hitler, The Pig is Dead, by the film director Rudolph Herzog shows how people made fun of the Nazi top brass and how the Jews made light of their persecution. “Historians of the 1950s suggested that the Germans were hypnotised by the demon Hitler with his propaganda. The jokes show they saw through it,” Herr Herzog said. “Political jokes weren’t a form of active resistance but valves for pent-up public anger. They were told in pubs, on the street and this suited the Nazi regime which was deeply humourless. People who released their frustration through jokes didn’t go out on the street and demonstrate.” The Nazis banned criticism of the regime, but court cases usually resulted in a warning or a fine. By the end of the war, however, a joke could get you killed. A Berlin munitions worker was executed for telling this one: Hitler and Göring are standing on top of Berlin’s radio tower. Hitler says he wants to do something to cheer up the people of Berlin. “Why don’t you just jump?” suggests Göring. A fellow worker overheard her telling the joke and reported her to the authorities.

China’s legislature ratifies pact with Pakistan to fight “three evil forces”

The “three evil forces”: terrorism, separatism and extremism         
China’s top legislature ratified an agreement to fight terrorism, separatism and extremism with Pakistan on Sunday. The Sino-Pakistan Cooperative Agreement on Combating the “Three Evil Forces”, which was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Aug. 22 for deliberation, defines terrorism, separatism and extremism, and outlines the scope of cooperation between the countries. The pact, which was signed in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, in April 2005, is the second international pact signed by China and foreign countries after the agreement with Kirghizia, Kazakhstan, Tadzhikistan and Uzbekistan to safeguard regional peace and stability.

Anti-terror drill targets ‘3 evil forces’


The joint forces searche for terrorists during the second phase of a three-day joint anti-terrorism drill code-named “Tianshan-I(2006)” between China and Kazakhstan on Saturday in Yining, western China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, August 26, 2006. The drill, aimed at enhancing the anti-terrorism capabilities between the two Asian countries, is held in Kazakhstan’s Almaty region and Yining, west China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. [Xinhua]

The joint drill involved armed helicopters, anti-riot vehicles and police and special forces troops from both countries. Around 700 police simulated a battle in which the enemy was forced into a narrow valley. The exercise was the first of its kind undertaken by the two countries under the auspices of the SCO, which groups China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.