Daily Archives: September 21, 2006

Leading Bush critic Nancy Pelosi calls Chavez a “thug”

One of President George W. Bush’s fiercest political opponents at home took his side on Thursday, calling Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a “thug” for his remark that Bush is like the devil.

“Hugo Chavez fancies himself a modern day Simon Bolivar but all he is an everyday thug,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said at a news conference, referring to Chavez’ comments in a U.N. General Assembly speech on Wednesday.
“Hugo Chavez abused the privilege that he had, speaking at the United Nations,” said Pelosi, a frequent Bush critic. “He demeaned himself and he demeaned Venezuela.”

reuters.com

‘Secret anti-terror alliance’ based in Paris

An anti-terrorism team bringing together the US, France and four other countries to fight al-Qaida has been based in Paris since 2003, it was reported. The reported mission, codenamed Alliance Base, was first divulged in a July 2005 story by the Washington Post. However, officials have never confirmed the operation’s existence.
But France-Info radio said yesterday it had access to documents that refer to the creation of the secret cell in the first half of 2003 – the height of US-French tensions over the Iraq war and the US war on terror. The radio station said the base was made up of secret agents from six countries: the US, with the CIA and the FBI represented; Britain, with MI5 and MI6 agents; Canada, Australia, Germany and France. The cell was funded in part by the CIA, it said. The French defence ministry and France’s main anti-terrorist agency would not comment on the report.

irishexaminer.com

First drugs, then terror: now US in ‘war with spinach’

First came the war on drugs. Then the war on terror. And now – in an America more than usually prone to fear, paranoia and the beeping of colour-coded alert systems – comes the war on organic spinach.
Ever since an outbreak of infections from the E.coli bacteria was traced to bagged spinach a few days ago, the feds have been relentless. No danger of the governmental breakdown that characterised the response to Hurricane Katrina a year ago. No half-measures or mollycoddling of the green leafy vegetable lobby. The outbreak has indeed been serious and significant – more than 100 confirmed contaminations in 19 states, including one 77-year-old woman who died in Wisconsin and more than 50 others sent to hospital – but the response has also been staggering in its severity.

independent.co.uk

German MP worried about police and Nazis

A former German parliamentary president has criticized the German police for being too lax when prosecuting neo-Nazis.


The criticism came after police let two neo-Nazis go after they had beaten a young student politician who was putting up campaign posters for the Social Democratic Party, the center-left party that makes up half of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition. Only after significant political pressure were they taken into custody.
The incident proved that the “police still does not act clearly and resolutely enough,” Wolfgang Thierse, a top Social Democrat and former parliamentary president, told the Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper.
Germany’s capital has recently seen several far-right motivated crimes amid Berlin’s ongoing regional election campaigns. Neo-Nazis have repeatedly attacked the information stands of other parties to intimidate voters, observers say.

upi.com

Americans Reject Phone, E-Mail Surveillance

Many adults in the United States are not willing to allow government agencies to regularly monitor their telephone calls and e-mails, according to a poll by CBS News. 59 per cent of respondents reject the idea.
Last December, U.S. president George W. Bush defended a secret domestic electronic surveillance program that includes the wiretapping of the telephone calls and e-mails of Americans suspected of having terrorist ties. The president’s remarks came in response to media reports that, since 2002, Bush has authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to operate this program without any judicial oversight.

angus-reid.com

Airport security meets science fiction

It works roughly like this: A passenger walks up and stands on a platform. That underlying platform emits a radio frequency signal into the traveler’s shoes, checking for explosive molecules. The passenger also presses a button in front of him, which takes a sample of finger oil and analyzes it for bomb residues within seconds. An iris and fingerprint scanner verifies the person’s identity.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in the film glides through security in minutes, checked by a full-body X-ray with shoes on and carry-on in hand. He doesn’t step through a bulky X-ray machine, he doesn’t take off his belt, he doesn’t even have to empty his pockets of loose change. In 2006, that’s not so far from reality. Yotam Margalit, the director of marketing for General Electric’s homeland security group, offered details Wednesday of a project intended to modernize security at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Margalit, speaking at the two-day FAA/NASA/Industry Airport Planning Workshop, said that for about a year, GE has run a working laboratory at SFO called the “checkpoint of the future.” It uses a sensor network and a so-called computerized tomography system (which uses a series of X-ray images to create a 3D image) to scan luggage for bombs. It also uses iris-scanning and finger-scanning technology to identify passengers and check for residue from explosives. It takes that and other information and uses mathematical algorithms to calculate the potential threat posed by any given passenger.  The project, funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, gives officials access to secure voice, video and data communication software, through applications like instant messaging and devices like PDAs.
GE’s kiosk at SFO is more futuristic. It works roughly like this: A passenger walks up and stands on a platform. That underlying platform emits a radio frequency signal into the traveler’s shoes, checking for explosive molecules. The passenger also presses a button in front of him, which takes a sample of finger oil and analyzes it for bomb residues within seconds. An iris and fingerprint scanner verifies the person’s identity.
Tying all these sensors and X-rays together is a communication protocol GE hopes to establish as a standard in airport security.

mrt.com

Homeland Security sought Disney’s advice on intelligence, security and biometrics

disney_terrorists

A visitor to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., has her finger scanned for prints prior to entering the amusement park. Privacy advocates say Disney has not fully disclosed the purpose of its new finger-scanning system. (AP/Medill/News21, Karen Harmel)

Park calls finger scans an upgrade, but privacy advocates uneasy
Walt Disney World, which bills itself as one of the happiest and most magical places anywhere, also may be one of the most closely watched and secure. The nation’s most popular tourist attraction is beginning to scan your fingerprint information. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the federal government sought out Disney’s advice in intelligence, security and biometrics, a tool that teaches computers to recognize and identify individuals based on their unique characteristics.
The government may have wanted Disney’s expertise because Walt Disney World has the nation’s largest single commercial application of biometrics, said Jim Wayman, director of the National Biometric Test Center at San Jose State University.

dallasnews.com