Daily Archives: May 17, 2007

Government to allow creation of animal-human ‘hybrid’ embryos

This is London | May 17, 2007

The Department of Health is to allow the creation and use of animal-human ‘hybrid’ embryos for research.

The measure, outlined in a White Paper last December, was originally proposed as part of the new Human Tissues and Embryology Bill.

Two teams of British scientists have applied for permission to produce embryos that would be 99.9 per cent human and 0.1 per cent animal.

The embryos, made using eggs from rabbits or cows and genetic material from human donors, would not be allowed to grow beyond the size of a pinhead.

But scientists say they could provide a plentiful source of stem cells for vital research into diseases and new treatments. The alternative is to use human eggs, usually left over from in-vitro fertilisation treatment, which are in very short supply.

The White Paper called for an immediate ban on hybrid embryos, while allowing for a review if circumstances changed.

Scientists, medical research charities and patient organisations strongly attacked the plan in letters to Prime Minister Tony Blair and The Times newspaper.

Last month MPs on the Science and Technology Select Committee published a highly critical report on the proposal, saying it was “unacceptable and potentially harmful to UK science”.

Later Ms Flint issued a statement that suggested a softening approach.

“We all want to see this research enabled, with suitable regulatory control accompanied by broad public support,” she said.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates embryo research, is currently holding a public consultation debate on the ethics of hybrid animal-human embryos.

A policy decision will be announced by the Authority in September. Meanwhile the applications from King’s College London and the University of Newcastle are on hold.

Fractured Iraq ‘on the brink of collapse’

This is london | May 17, 2007

Iraq is on the brink of collapse and it can no longer be assumed that it will survive as a state, it is claimed today.

A report published by the respected international relations think tank Chatham House, warns that the surge in US troop levels this year has failed to stem the growth in violence, which seems likely to “continue and intensify”.

And it recommends a radical shift in U.S.-UK policies, including reaching out to Sunni insurgent groups which oppose Al Qaeda; bringing the movement led by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr into the political process; and recognising the legitimacy of Kurdish demands for autonomy.

Although they might be “distinctly unpalatable” to Washington and London, the report’s author, Dr Gareth Stansfield, warns that strategies of this kind are needed to prevent the collapse of Iraq.

His report, Accepting Realities in Iraq, describes the democraticallyelected government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki as “largely irrelevant” to political, security and economic life across large swathes of the country.

The country has fractured into regional power bases, where power rests in the hands of local sectarian, ethnic or tribal groups, he says.

Al Qaeda has developed “a very real presence” in the major cities of the centre and north of the country. Iraq suffers not from one but many civil wars and insurgencies, which pit communities and organisations against one another, the Baghdad government and the US-led multi-national forces.

Dr Stansfield, associate professor in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter, writes that 2007 will be a “critical time” for Iraq, with things likely to get much worse before they improve.

“It is time for a full appraisal of the realities in Iraq,” he says. “On current evidence these realities are very disturbing and it can no longer be assumed that Iraq will survive as a united entity.

“The four years since the removal of Saddam’s regime have been deeply unsuccessful for the Multinational Force in Iraq and the new Iraqi government.

“Iraq’s attempted transition from dictatorship to democracy has been harrowing and multifaceted violence appears likely to continue and intensify.

“It can be argued that Iraq is on the verge of being a failed state which faces the distinct possibility of collapse and fragmentation.”

Despite US President George Bush’s deployment of more than 20,000 additional troops earlier this year in the hope of making a speedy impact on security, overall fatality rates appear to have increased, says the report.

Toddler fined £89 for dropping two crisps

This is London | May 17, 2007

emily-jubb

Another criminal apprehended. Emily Jubb and a Quaver

A woman was handed an £80 litter fine after her toddler grandchild dropped some crisps on the pavement.

Barbara Jubb had picked up the packet of Quavers when it fell from the hand of 20-month- old Emily.

But she failed to pick up two stray crisps that spilled from the bag.

Within seconds two council litter wardens swooped and issued her with an £80 fine.

“This is diabolical,” said Mrs Jubb, 57. “£80 is a lot of money, especially if it’s just because a baby dropped two Quavers.

“I saw these two women coming toward me with clipboards. One of them produced a card and said, ‘We are from the council and I’m going to fine you for littering’.

“I said, ‘What litter – it’s just two Quavers, it was my granddaughter, she dropped them’.”

“People were standing around listening-they were just laughing, they couldn’t believe it was happening.”

The incident happened when Mrs Jubb was waiting for a bus with her daughter Selena, Emily’s mother.

They were on their way back to their home in Crawley, West Sussex, after a hospital visit in which Selena was diagnosed with a heart condition.

Mrs Jubb added: “It was only when I got on the bus that I read the notice and realised they had fined me £80.”

Selena, 29, said: ‘At first we didn’t realise we had been fined. These two wardens had come up to us and given us a notice.

“When I read it on the bus I realised my mum had been given an £80 fine. Luckily Emily didn’t have a clue what was going on. I think they are targeting vulnerable people.”

A spokesman for Crawley Council said: “People leaving their rubbish behind – or dropping litter anywhere other than a bin – is totally unacceptable.

“It annoys responsible residents who help us to keep the town clean and tidy and the council will not tolerate unsociable behaviour.”

The council did however allow Mrs Jubb’s appeal against the fine, saying the penalty would be waived because of the ‘exceptional circumstances’.

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Foreclosure Filings Still Soaring, Up 62 Percent

NewsMax | May 15, 2007

Foreclosure filings continue to drag on the real estate market, with filings in April up 62 percent from a year earlier, a newly released report from RealtyTrac showed.

Foreclosures were down 1 percent from March, but RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio said that may be because of an uptick in home buying tied to the spring season and warmer temperatures.

He added that it remained to be seen whether the slight decline was the beginning of a trend, “but we expect foreclosure activity to at least stay above last year’s levels for the remainder of 2007,” he stated.

RealtyTrac’s CEO reportedly blamed the overall increase in foreclosures to a combination of risky loans to consumers in the past few years and slowing appreciation in home prices.

According to the RealtyTrac report, Nevada led the country in the number of reported foreclosures for April — 3,737 or one of every 232 households in the state. That’s up 224 percent from a year earlier.

That makes the fourth consecutive month Nevada, which had one of the strongest real estate markets through 2005, has been in the number one spot.

Other states with high rates of foreclosures despite strong economies include Colorado (one of every 314 households), Connecticut (one of 329) and California (one of 400).

Other states in the top 10 in April were Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Michigan.

Ohio also had a high foreclosure rate in April — one filing for every 418 households and up 135 percent compared with April 2006 — but that state has been dealing with a troubled economy caused mainly by layoffs in the industrial sector.

RealtyTrac’s report also showed that six out of the 10 hardest foreclosure cities were in California.

Greeley, Colorado, the highest ranked non-California city, came in third, and Las Vegas ranked fifth.

More police to get Tasers despite deaths

Guardian | May 16, 2007

Amnesty has studied the use of Tasers in the US and Canada, where more than 220 people have died since 2001 after being Tasered.

The home secretary has announced that many more police will be authorised to carry Taser stun guns.

John Reid told a Police Federation conference he wants non-firearms officers to have the devices, which stun suspects with a 50,000-volt shock.

Police will also be able to use them in a wider range of situations.

Mr Reid insisted the weapons are a safe alternative to guns and are increasingly needed to deal with violent offenders. However, Amnesty International has opposed the use of the US-manufactured weapons, claiming they can be lethal.

“The police service is facing unprecedented challenges and this government is committed to providing them with the tools they need to meet the demands of modern policing,” Mr Reid told delegates in Blackpool.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The intention, subsequent to medical advice, is to start a trial to extend to the use of Taser to specially trained teams. They provide additional options and are less lethal than conventional firearms.

“A 12-month trial will extend it to specially trained units, who will not necessarily be authorised firearms officers.

“It would also extend the use of Taser by authorised firearms officers where the criteria to use firearms do not apply.

“Tasers are used in incidents where officers are faced with violence or the threat of violence, and used only when they need to use force to protect themselves or members of the public.”

The spokesman said the trial would only be given the go-ahead after the UK’s defence scientific advisory council sub-committee reports next month on the devices’ long-term medical effects.

The council concluded in 2004 that the risk of life-threatening or serious injury from the weapon used by police in England and Wales was “very low”.

Kate Allen, Amnesty UK director, said: “We are worried that this may be the start of a slippery slope towards a situation like that in the US, where officers are routinely armed with Tasers and use them in a wide range of situations.

“Amnesty has studied the use of Tasers in the US and Canada, where more than 220 people have died since 2001 after being Tasered.

A Police Federation spokesman supported the plan, saying: “We think it is a vital piece of equipment for frontline officers to have.”

The trial, expected to begin in September, is expected to involve 11 forces. More than 3,000 Tasers have already been distributed to special firearms officers.

Ms Allen of Amnesty said: “Our message is simple – Tasers are potentially lethal and should be treated as such. We want comprehensive and independent testing to establish that they are safe before the government considers handing them out to every police officer.

“Amnesty would also like a meeting with the minister to discuss the implications of this decision for human rights in the UK.”distributed to special firearms officers.

JFK Conspirator Wanted Every Kennedy Dead

Prison Planet | May 15, 2007

e-howard-hunt

E. Howard Hunt

E. Howard Hunt wanted to “finish the job” by killing Senator Ted Kennedy, greeted news of RFK’s assassination with satisfaction

JFK assassination conspirator E. Howard Hunt wanted to “finish the job” by killing Senator Ted Kennedy and greeted news of Robert Kennedy’s murder with satisfaction , according to his son Saint John Hunt.

E. Howard Hunt was a former veteran CIA agent and one of the infamous Watergate plumbers, he died in January 2007.

Saint John Hunt recently went public with an audio tape containing his father’s deathbed admission that he was part of a conspiracy to kill JFK that was orchestrated by Lyndon Baines Johnson. Hunt agreed that others above LBJ were involved in the plot.

Appearing on The Alex Jones Show yesterday, Hunt dropped new bombshell revelations about his father’s role in the murder of JFK as well as intriguing insights into his attitude as a whole towards the Kennedy family.

“One of the things he liked to say around the house was ‘let’s finish the job – let’s hit Ted (Kennedy)'” said Hunt, referring to the 75-year-old Massachusetts Senator.

“In the context that JFK had already been removed, RFK was gone and his motto was ‘let’s finish the job’,” added Hunt, elaborating that whenever Ted Kennedy appeared on TV or in the newspaper his father would smirk and wish to see him dead.

In addition, Saint John Hunt said that his father greeted the news of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination with satisfaction.

“He was glad that it happened, he felt no sadness,” said Hunt, “the rest of the nation was in a deep state of horror, tragedy, shock, disbelief and sadness and my father was just very cold about it – he was very composed, he was certainly not disturbed by it.”

“When the news came over the television, he was pleased – it was a good day for him – we grew up hating Kennedy so if this was one less Kennedy the country was going to have to deal with it was a good thing,” added Hunt.

Hunt agreed that his father’s description of his role in the plot to kill Kennedy as a “benchwarmer” meant that he wasn’t one of the shooters but was intricately involved in the management aspects of the conspiracy.

Some have claimed that E. Howard Hunt couldn’t have been involved at Dealy Plaza because he had alibis at the time that said he was at home at the time of the assassination.

“I don’t have any recollection of my father being home that day,” said Hunt, “I know he used his children as an alibi – I have a vivid recollection, school was closed and we were sent home where I waited in my house with my mother for what to do next.”

“As far as my father going to a Chinese grocery store and picking up ingredients for a home cooked Chinese meal and having dinner with his children and watching television – that’s not my recollection,” said Hunt.

Prison Planet.tv members can listen to the entire 80 minute interview by clicking here . Not a member? Please consider subscribing and enjoying access to a platform of fascinating multimedia and a powerful activist tool by clicking here .

Japanese teen beheads mother

Boston Globe | May 15, 2007

A teenage boy carrying a severed head walked into a Japanese police station Tuesday saying he killed his mother, the latest in a series of grisly dismemberments that have horrified a nation renowned for its low crime rate.

The 17-year-old suspect led officers to his house in northern Fukushima prefecture (state) and pointed out his headless mother on her futon mattress, with a frank, “It’s in here,” Kyodo News reported.

He told police he beheaded his mother on the eve of her 47th birthday while she slept, and added, “It didn’t matter who I killed,” Kyodo reported. Police confirmed the arrest.

Japan has long prided itself on safe streets and low incidents of violent crime. But the latest killing triggered soul searching about what some worry is a disturbing new trend — particularly with its mix of youthful aggression and icy remorselessness.

“If true, it’s horrifying,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said.

Last year, a jobless man allegedly cut up his mother and entombed her body parts in concrete-filled buckets left abandoned in a yard.

In January, Tokyo was put on edge when a woman confessed to dismembering her husband with a saw and dumping the parts around the capital.

Then just weeks ago, the nation was riveted by a high-profile verdict in the death of a British bar hostess whose body was also dismembered and stashed in a seaside cave.

While dismemberment crimes are not unique to Japan, experts say such cases are on the rise as the country grapples with the fallout of a decade of economic malaise. Alienation and a trend toward objectifying fellow humans are also fueling the violence.

“There have been a high number of incidents involving dismembered bodies and I certainly think there is a chain reaction going on,” said Susumu Oda, an expert in criminal psychology at Japan’s Tezukayamagakuin University.

Tuesday’s case recalls a 1997 slaying in which a 14-year-old boy beheaded an 11-year-old and left the head at a school gate with a sinister note stuffed in the mouth.

That case spurred widespread debate about tougher laws against juvenile offenders.

Dismemberments made headlines again last year when a man in western Japan reportedly cut up his mother’s body and encased the remains in concrete buckets.

The 37-year-old suspect also allegedly roasted some of the parts on an electric grill before throwing them in the garbage, apparently to delay decomposition and hide the odor.

In the January case, a woman confessed to bludgeoning her husband with a wine bottle, sawing the corpse in pieces and dumping his body parts around Tokyo.

The confession ended a murder mystery that began the previous month when a man’s torso was found in a garbage bag on a Tokyo street.

The man’s legs were later found at a separate location in Tokyo and his head was discovered in a suburban park weeks later. The woman told police that her husband had physically and emotionally abused her, local media reported.

Late last month, a serial rapist was sentenced to life in prison for nine attacks, but was cleared of raping and dismembering a British woman after a six-year trial that detailed one of Japan’s most disturbing sex crimes.

The British victim, Lucie Blackman, worked at a hostess bar frequented by the suspect, and her body was discovered in a cave near his house — her head also encased in concrete. While the suspect was convicted on other charges, the court said there was no solid evidence linking him to the Briton’s death.

While such gruesome killings have outraged the nation, some experts caution that the dismembering of victims is not always a symptom of deeper social disfunction.

“In many cases, they killed in a desperate situation and carried or hid the body by dismembering it to avoid being caught for homicide,” said Yoshikazu Yuuma, an expert in criminal psychology at Saitama Institute of Technology outside Tokyo.