Daily Archives: January 15, 2007

Russian Admiral Says U.S. Navy Prepares Missile Strike on Iran

Mos News | Jan 15, 2007   

U.S. Navy nuclear submarines maintaining vigil off the coast of Iran indicate that the Pentagon’s military plans include not only control over navigation in the Persian Gulf but also strikes against Iranian targets, a former commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Eduard Baltin has told the Interfax news agency.

“The presence of U.S. nuclear submarines in the Persian Gulf region means that the Pentagon has not abandoned plans for surprise strikes against nuclear targets in Iran. With this aim a group of multi-purpose submarines ready to accomplish the task is located in the area,” Admiral Baltin said.

He made the comments after reports that a U.S. submarine collided with a Japanese tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

“American patience is not unlimited,” he said. “The submarine commanders go up to the periscope depth and forget about navigation rules and safety measures,” the admiral said.

Currently there is a group of up to four submarines in the Persian Gulf area, he said. So far they only control navigation in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, and in the Arabian Sea, he said. They might receive different orders in future: to block off the Gulf of Oman, that is the Iranian coast, and, if need be, launch missile strikes against ground targets in Iran, he said.

Big Brother could slow British motorcycles down, track routes

Engadget | Jan 15, 2007 

Most would argue that the UK certainly doesn’t need one more piece of surveillance equipment watching its citizens, but regardless of the naysayers, it just might be getting another anyway. The latest implementation of Big Brother in our everyday lives comes courtesy of the Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA), which are devices (presumably GPS-based) that will purportedly track motorcyclists’ speeds and throttle things down if they attempt to break the posted speed limit(s). Moreover, the ISA could even be used to track bikers’ journeys, and if things “prove successful,” could eventually find its way into cars and other vehicles (like Segways beefed-up wheelchairs) in a reported attempt to “drastically cut the death toll on the country’s roads.”

As expected, bikers and bike sellers are less than enthused about the new device, as they expect customers will be the ones footing the bill for the homing beacons and that sales could drop when folks realize they can’t get a little footloose every now and then. While there’s no hard dates on when (or if) these trackers / speed-controllers would hit motorcycles in the UK, the ISA has already undergone testing at the Motorcycle Industry Research Association (MIRA), so those looking to kick up a little two-wheeled dust best get a move on before the eyes in the sky put the clamps on your fun.

USDA: New eyes for “Big Brother”

Enter Stage Right | Jan 15, 2007 

USDA survey is an infringement on the Fourth Amendment right of private landowners to be secure in their “persons, houses, papers, and effects.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is looking more and more like the “Big Brother” government that has infected Washington in recent years.  The “2006 Agricultural Identification Survey”  recently mailed to thousands of private landowners is a good example.

The instructions for the questionnaire say “Response to this survey is legally required by Title 7, U.S. Code.” Title 7 of the U.S. Code is an enormous document, containing 105 chapters, each of which is a lengthy book unto itself.  To find the specific requirement, a person would have to read all the way to Chapter 55, Section 2204g, to discover that a person who falsifies an answer to the questions asked may be fined $500; a person who fails, or refuses to answer, may be fined $100.

The questionnaire asks 22 multi-part questions.  The USDA wants to know what is on the privately owned land, how it is used, if there are animals on the land, and the variety and quantity of each.  The USDA wants to know if the owner has any contracts which affect the land, or produce revenue, and how much total revenue the land produces.

Does the collection of this information – under penalty of law – by the U.S. government violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which clearly says “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects….shall not be violated…” without a warrant?  This USDA survey is an infringement on the Fourth Amendment right of private landowners to be secure in their “persons, houses, papers, and effects.” 

ASEAN Agrees on Asian Free Trade Zone by 2015

Dawn | Jan 13, 2007 

Southeast Asian leaders agreed at their annual summit on Saturday to create a tighter political bloc, turn their region into a free-trade zone by 2015 and fight harder against terrorism and poverty.

In a major break with its consensus-based past, the 10-country body has agreed to discuss a plan for a more cohesive organisation able to sanction — or even expel — members that do not follow its rules.

The leaders also signed a counter-terrorism pact legally binding their countries to share information, and allowing for joint training aimed at stemming terror and cross-border crime.

They agreed on the protection of millions of migrant workers, and vowed to shift energy use from fossil fuel to biofuels.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo stressed the need to bolster free trade within Asean, which was created in 1967. “ASEAN is committed to expanding its trade forum to become the largest in the world,” Arroyo said while opening the meeting, held under heavy security days after three deadly explosions in the southern Philippines.

The leaders want to establish the free trade zone by 2015, five years earlier than previously proposed.

The six richer nations — such as wealthy Singapore and oil-rich Brunei — will start the integration process in 2010, with the others following by 2015.

Engineered chickens make cancer drugs

Reuters | Jan 15, 2007  

A team at the institute that cloned Dolly the sheep have made a genetically engineered chicken that produces cancer drugs in its eggs.

The chickens produce the cancer drugs in their egg whites, the team at the Roslin Biocentre in Edinburgh reported.

The drugs include a monoclonal antibody — themselves lab-engineered immune system proteins — and a human immune system protein used to treat cancer and other conditions, the researchers report in the upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

These drugs are not easy to make in the lab. “Many human therapeutic proteins, such as monoclonal antibodies, are produced in industrial bioreactors, but setting up such systems is both time-consuming and expensive,” the researchers wrote.

Scientists have been trying to find good ways to turn animals into factories instead — given that animals naturally make such proteins anyway.

Cattle, sheep and goats all have been genetically engineered to produce human proteins in their milk, including insulin and drugs to treat cystic fibrosis, but the Roslin team thought chickens, with their shorter life cycles and egg-laying prowess, also might be useful.

Congress can’t stop buildup, Bush says

Seattle Times | Jan 15, 2007  

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As Congress and the administration gird for conflict over troop levels in Iraq, President Bush says he has the power to send more U.S. forces, regardless of what lawmakers want.

“I fully understand they could try to stop me from doing it,” Bush said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

When asked whether he thought he had the authority to send additional troops in the face of opposition from the Democratic majority in Congress, Bush said: “In this situation, I do, yeah.”

The president’s comments were part of an administration effort to quell the growing criticism about its Iraq strategy, as congressional Democrats plan nonbinding resolutions opposing the troop increase and some Republicans echo their resistance to the plan.

Bush admitted that some administration steps contributed to Iraq’s instability and said any mistakes should be laid at his feet.

“If people want a scapegoat, they got one right here in me ’cause it’s my decisions,” the president said.

“No question, decisions have made things unstable,” he added. “But the question is: Can we succeed?”

ASEAN nations agree to form Asian Union bloc

ABC Australia | Jan 13, 2007
 

Communist dictatorships, feudal over-lords and military juntas join hands to create the third leg in the Trilateral Commission’s Global Union.

The 10 leaders, whose members range from an absolute monarchy and military juntas to parliamentary democracies and one-party communist states, have failed to agree on the inclusion of a human rights mechanism within the charter’s blueprint.

South-East Asian countries have laid the foundation for an economic and political bloc and signed a convention on counter-terrorism.

The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has sped up its goal for a free trade zone by five years to 2015 at an annual summit in the central Philippines.

Anxious to compete against the growing financial might of China and India, ASEAN has also agreed to transform itself into a rules-based organisation with teeth.

It would be more akin to the European Union, with faster decision-making processes, particularly for economic decisions.

The charter would include systems to monitor and enforce agreements, and panels that could issue binding decisions in disputes.

The most ground-breaking proposal gives ASEAN, whose combined population of 558 million is greater than the European Union, the power to suspend, or in extreme cases, expel members for serious breaches of the charter.

That could possibly put Burma’s membership in jeopardy if the junta continues to put up roadblocks to democracy.

But the 10 leaders, whose members range from an absolute monarchy and military juntas to parliamentary democracies and one-party communist states, have failed to agree on the inclusion of a human rights mechanism within the charter’s blueprint.

They have also failed to find common ground on Burma’s woeful human rights record.