Daily Archives: July 14, 2007

Bush like Hitler, 9/11 like Reichstag fire says first Muslim in Congress

Telegraph | Jul 7, 2007

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Keith Ellison, a convert to Islam, has cultivated a moderate image since being elected last November

By Toby Harnden

America’s first Muslim congressman has provoked outrage by apparently comparing President George W Bush to Adolf Hitler and hinting that he might have been responsible for the September 11 attacks.

Addressing a gathering of atheists in his home state of Minnesota, Keith Ellison, a Democrat, compared the 9/11 atrocities to the destruction of the Reichstag, the German parliament, in 1933. This was probably burned down by the Nazis in order to justify Hitler’s later seizure of emergency powers.

“It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that,” Mr Ellison said. “After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader [Hitler] of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.”

To applause from his audience of 300 members of Atheists for Human Rights, Mr Ellison said he would not accuse the Bush administration of planning 9/11 because “you know, that’s how they put you in the nut-ball box – dismiss you”.

Vice-President Dick Cheney’s stance of refusing to answer some questions from Congress was “the very definition of totalitarianism, authoritarianism and dictatorship”, he added.

Mr Ellison also raised eyebrows by telling his audience: “You’ll always find this Muslim standing up for your right to be atheists all you want.”

A convert to Islam who was previously linked to the extremist Nation of Islam, Mr Ellison, 42, has cultivated a moderate image since being elected last November, concentrating on issues such as health and education.

He is an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq. But he angered his own anti-war supporters by voting for a budget bill that aims to end the war over the next 18 months. His followers want an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

After his speech was reported, Mr Ellison said he accepted that Osama bin Laden was responsible for 9/11. But his demagogic comments threaten to plunge him in controversy.

Mark Drake, of the Republican party in Minnesota, said: “To compare the democratically elected leader of the United States of America to Hitler is an absolute moral outrage which trivialises the horrors of Nazi Germany.”

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Millionaire rapist invited to a gala dinner with British Prime Minister

Critics will find it extraordinary that Labour chiefs have solicited funding from a convicted rapist.

Daily Mail |  Jul 14, 2007

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Donor: Owen Oyston and another guest arrive at the event. Oyston served three-and-a-half years in jail for attacking a 16-year-old girl

by JANE MERRICK

A convicted rapist attended a fundraising dinner for the Labour Party this week, alongside Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and a string of celebrities.

Owen Oyston, who served three-and-a-half years in jail for attacking a 16-year-old girl, was invited by party chiefs to the £1,000-ahead event at Wembley Stadium.

The disgraced multi-millionaire businessman was filmed at the gala on Thursday which aimed to raise £500,000 to help plug the £20million hole in Labour’s finances.

It is not known how much he has donated but Mr Oyston, 73, was a major Labour benefactor in the early 1990s.

His presence at the dinner, revealed by BBC’s Newsnight, will fuel concerns over Labour’s fundraising activities.

The Prime Minister has attempted to distance himself from the cash-for-peerages scandal that overshadowed Mr Blair’s final year in office.

Since Mr Brown took over two weeks ago, Downing Street has refused to discuss any issues relating to the inquiry.

Critics, however, will find it extraordinary that Labour chiefs have solicited funding from a convicted rapist.

Liberal Democrat MP and antisleaze campaigner Norman Baker said: ‘It is a pretty seedy end to Blair’s Labour.

“The only thing missing was an auctioned copy of the Hutton Report. Are there any depths the Labour Party won’t stoop to?”

Mr Blair was the star guest at the fundraiser, which was billed as a celebration of “ten years of sporting achievement”.

Also on the guest list were Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and former Olympic athletes Steve Cram and Tessa Sanderson.

Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall, Nancy Dell’Olio and Robin Gibb, who lent Mr Blair his Barbados villa last summer, also attended.

Leading figures from the Party were also there and Oscar-winning producer Lord Puttnam made a special film to be distributed on DVD to guests.

The cost of their tickets entitled them to tour the stadium and try out sports including football, basketball, table tennis and rowing.

Mr Oyston was jailed for six years at Liverpool Crown Court in 1996 for raping his victim at his country home Claughton Hall in Lancashire.

He was released after serving just over half his sentence at Wealston Prison in West Yorkshire. The former chairman of Blackpool Football Club, Mr Oyston also once owned a chain of radio stations and the rights to the Miss World contest.

A Labour Party spokesman confirmed that he did attend the gala.

A spokesman for Mr Oyston told Newsnight: “He was invited to take a table, which he decided to do.

“As he’s got lots of companies, he thought it might be useful to attend.”

Mr Oyston was a regular contributor to Labour during the early 1990s. He made three gifts totalling £15,750 between 1992 and 1994.

The Prime Minister, however, acted swiftly to reject any more cash.

A spokesman said: “Mr Brown did not meet Mr Oyston nor was he aware of his presence in advance.

“Mr Brown has asked the Labour Party general secretary (Peter Watt) to investigate, but he has already instructed him that any donation from Mr Oyston should not be accepted.”

Terror psychology expert urges local governments to encourage private citizens to join war on terror

Dr. Kathleen M. Puckett, is co-author of the forthcoming book “Hunting the American Terrorist”

News Release Wire | Jul 13, 2007

Responding in concert with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s concerns about the increased risk of summertime terrorism, one of the nation’s pre-eminent experts on the psychology of terror has issued a statement calling on state and local agencies to encourage private citizens to join in the war on terror.

“Big as it is, the Department of Homeland Security can’t be everywhere. It is important that the American people get involved and not be afraid to act on their instincts,” said Dr. Kathleen Puckett, a founding member of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Program whose 23 years as an FBI agent culminated in fighting terrorism. Speaking from her Coarsegold, California office, Puckett went on to say that “Trusting instincts and getting critical information to first responders like the police and fire departments can be crucial. The ambulance crew in London proved that last weekend. Every American should carry the phone numbers of the local police and FBI and should not hesitate to report suspicious behavior.”

Puckett, a clinical psychologist, urges local governments to raise the public consciousness through programs aimed at raising awareness in sensitive areas. “Whether the terrorist is homegrown or international, the best defense is recognizing the disturbing or very unusual occurrences in the local environment. It gets down to that. The war against terrorism is a local matter. It is a fact that local governments must realize. ”

Dr. Kathleen M. Puckett, is co-author of the forthcoming book “Hunting the American Terrorist” which includes the findings of a behavioral law enforcement study of domestic terrorism. Her work as the behavioral expert on several domestic terrorist cases led to significant new insight into the importance of both positive and negative connections between people as a key element in the psychology of terrorism.

U.S. building biometric database on Iraqis

Using fingerprints and eye scans to find suspicious people is “the bane of privacy advocates,” the Defense Science Board, a Pentagon research arm, said in a March report. Military use of such data can be particularly invasive because it creates government databases of private citizens, the report said.

Iraqis who refuse to give data can be barred from neighborhoods or markets that require an ID for entry.

USA TODAY | Jul 12, 2007

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Pfc. Shaun McIntyre of Loveland, Colo., photographs a Baghdad resident during census patrol in June. A device that scans retinas takes photos and fingerprints was used to gather residents’ data.

By Thomas Frank, USA TODAY

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military is taking fingerprints and eye scans from thousands of Iraqi men and building an unprecedented database that helps track suspected militants.

U.S. troops are stopping Iraqis at checkpoints, workplaces and sites where attacks have recently occurred, and inputting their personal data using handheld scanners or specially equipped laptops. In several neighborhoods in and around Baghdad, troops have gone door to door collecting data.

The rapidly expanding program has raised privacy concerns at the Pentagon, although it has met little resistance from Iraqis. U.S. commanders say the data help to keep suspected militants out of neighborhoods and to identify suspects in attacks against U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. Iraq has no other reliable ID system.

“It helps enormously,” Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said in an interview. “It enables us to identify individuals connected with various activities.”

This year, U.S. troops in Iraq are to receive 3,800 handheld scanners, up from 200 now in use, to equip every squad in the country, said Col. Michael Meese, an adviser to Petraeus. The devices can both collect and display data, letting troops view someone’s background and decide whether he should be detained.

“If we see some guy at the site of a blast or a shooting, we put him in the database,” said Capt. John Henry Moltz of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division. “If we find he’s at every blast, now we’ve got probable cause to question him.”

The program recently expanded to the Baghdad area after beginning in 2004 in Anbar province. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis there submitted fingerprint and iris scans — also known as biometric data — and were given ID cards to present at checkpoints. “This is about denying insurgents access to the communities,” Lt. Col. Jeff Smitherman said.

From 5,000 to 10,000 Baghdad residents have been scanned since March, said Capt. Curtis Kellogg, a military spokesman. Military units in Baghdad are starting to give ID cards to police and security workers.

Each handheld scanner costs $6,500 and can store records of up to 10,000 people. Information is downloaded from the scanners and forwarded to a central database, Meese said.

The main database also includes records of Iraqis who have been detained or who work in U.S. facilities or for the Iraqi army or police. The data are compared to fingerprints lifted from the scenes of roadside bombings and other attacks to find potential suspects.

Using fingerprints and eye scans to find suspicious people is “the bane of privacy advocates,” the Defense Science Board, a Pentagon research arm, said in a March report. Military use of such data can be particularly invasive because it creates government databases of private citizens, the report said.

Iraqis who refuse to give data can be barred from neighborhoods or markets that require an ID for entry. But “virtually nobody refuses,” Meese said.

Fayath Abas, 41, said he didn’t mind giving his fingerprints at a checkpoint in Fallujah. “We can find out who is bad and who is good,” he said.

German interior minister proposes ‘targeted terrror killings’ and indefinite detentions

news.com.au | Jul 9, 2007

GERMAN Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble caused a stir today after proposing a security policy that would allow the indefinite detention and “targeted killing” of terror suspects.

Peter Struck, parliamentary group leader of the Social Democrats, half of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s left-right ruling coalition, expressed shock at Mr Schaeuble’s remarks, which included a call to ban the use of the internet and mobile phones by suspect foreigners living in Germany.

“That has no place in a coalition,” Mr Struck told the daily Frankfurter Rundschau. “(Schaeuble’s) new proposals on banning cellular phones could only be implemented in a police state.”

Mr Struck said Germany must draw lessons from its Nazi past and also dismissed a call made by Ms Merkel last week to allow the military to be deployed on German soil in the event of an imminent terrorist threat.

“This argumentation is wrong, among other things because it does not take into account the horrible experiences in German history,” he said.

Mr Schaeuble made the comments in Monday’s issue of the news weekly ,Der Spiegel when asked how Germany should deal with the threat of Islamist terrorism after the foiled bombings in Britain this month.

“Let’s say someone knew in which cave Osama bin Laden is sitting. Someone could then fire a guided missile to kill him,” he said, referring to the al-Qaeda chief.

“But let’s be honest – the legal issues involved are still completely unresolved, above all if Germans were to be involved. We must try to resolve such constitutional issues as precisely as possible and create a legal foundation to have the necessary liberties in the struggle against terrorism.”

He added that Germany should consider classifying terror suspects as “enemy combatants” – mirroring the policy used by the US since the suicide hijackings of September 11, 2001 to justify detention without criminal charge.

“If for example potential terrorists – so-called sleepers – cannot be deported, what will we do then? One could consider introducing a law against conspiracies, as they have in America,” he said.

“The other question is whether one could treat such sleepers as combatants and intern them.”

The leader of the Social Democrats, Kurt Beck, said SMr chaeuble risked undermining German democracy in the name of security.

“I think he is overreacting,” mr Beck told ZDF public television. “We cannot protect freedom to death.”

Ron Paul: ‘I Guess Liberty Is Just Popular’

NewsMax | Jul 14, 2007

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by Dave Eberhart

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul may be stuck on the “long shot” list as far as the mainstream media is concerned, but hold the phone when it comes to Paul harnessing the raw power of the digital world.

The Libertarian-friendly Paul campaign recently became the first to launch an iPhone platform, utilizing Apple’s new multi-purpose cell phone.

In a CNN telephone poll conducted in February 2007, Paul was the candidate with the least name recognition – running just ahead of John Cox, the Chicago businessman and talk show host.

But the congressman from Texas has a knack for shining on the Internet — and winning Internet polls. After the New Hampshire Republican debate, for instance, MSNBC polls showed Paul winning 69 percent of the vote from viewers who tapped him as the “best candidate in the debate.”

Even though Paul typically polls between one percent and two percent nationally in the race for the GOP nomination, he left the more recent Columbia, S.C., debate ranked second by a Fox News text-message poll.

Another positive – and surprising – sign that Paul’s campaign is on the upswing came when his campaign reported it had an impressive $2.4 million in cash on hand after raising that amount in the second quarter. That put him ahead of one-time front-runner John McCain, who reported last week that he had only $2 million in the bank.

“I think some of the candidates are on the down-slope, and we’re on the up-slope,” Paul said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

Paul, 71 – who ran for President as the Libertarian Party nominee in 1988 – is seemingly getting strong support from libertarians, a relatively well-to-do demographic. Libertarians also seem to populate the world of Silicon Valley and the internet geekdom – techies who would like to see a bold new world based on the type of freedom the internet offers.

Paul favors a non-interventionist foreign policy, is critical of civil liberties being curtailed in the name of the War on Terror, voted twice against the Patriot Act, wants no part of a military draft, and would like to see the U.S. pull out of the United Nations.

Paul, a medical doctor, has an unwavering personal credo to never vote for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution.

Ex-Press Baron, Conrad Black, Found Guilty of Fraud

New York Times | Jul 14, 2007

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Barbara Amiel and Conrad Black at a fancy dress party in 2000

He populated his board of directors with bold-face names including Henry Kissinger, Richard Perle and Marie-Josée Kravis, and gave black-tie dinners that included Richard M. Nixon, Mr. Kissinger, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher as guest speakers.

Still faces more than $1 billion in civil litigation from the Securities and Exchange Commission and others, and is now on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in legal fees.

By RICHARD SIKLOS

Conrad M. Black, the Canadian-born press baron who cut a glittering swath through financial, political and high-society circles in Toronto, London and New York, was found guilty of fraud yesterday in a Chicago courtroom, along with three of his former employees.

Mr. Black, the former head of Hollinger International, faces as many as 35 years in prison, although the exact sentence determined by Judge Amy St. Eve at a sentencing hearing Nov. 30 is likely to be far shorter.

The verdict represents a remarkable turn in fortune for Mr. Black, the son of a wealthy Canadian businessman and society fixture who once commanded a far-flung media empire that included The Daily Telegraph in London, The Jerusalem Post and The Chicago Sun-Times, as well as scores of other papers in the United States, Canada and Australia.

“We’re gratified by the jury’s verdict,” Patrick Fitzgerald, United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, told a news conference.

“We believe the verdict vindicates the serious public interest in making sure that when insiders in a corporation deal with money entrusted to the shareholders, that they’re not engaged in self-dealing, that they not break the law to benefit themselves instead of the shareholders,” he added. Mr. Black, also known as Lord Black of Crossharbour, was found guilty of three counts of mail fraud and a single count of obstruction of justice by the Chicago jury.

He was cleared of nine other counts, largely centered around so-called noncompete agreements in which Mr. Black and others were accused of skimming money from the sale of Hollinger assets under the pretense of being paid not to compete with the new owners.

When the judge read through each of the counts in the verdict, Mr. Black sat stonily but then shot the jury a scathing look. Later, he was consoled by his wife and his daughter, Alana, who had sat in the court to support him throughout the trial.

Mr. Black’s Canadian lawyer, Edward Greenspan, said he intended to appeal, noting that his client was cleared on most of the more serious charges.

“Obviously we’re disappointed — we came here to be acquitted of everything — but we’re not disheartened,” he said. “For the purposes of an appeal, this puts us in a pretty darn good position.”

Mr. Black surrendered his passport yesterday after a bail hearing and was ordered to remain in Chicago until the judge rules on whether to allow him to return to Canada, remain in Chicago or be remanded to custody.

At the bail hearing, the lead prosecutor, Eric Sussman, said he would argue for revoking Mr. Black’s bond, saying he is a flight risk.

During his long, flamboyant career, Mr. Black has alternately charmed and bullied journalists and, along with his wife, the columnist Barbara Amiel, has made social and business connections with powerful, largely politically conservative figures on both sides of the Atlantic.

He populated his board of directors with bold-face names including Henry Kissinger, Richard Perle and Marie-Josée Kravis, and gave black-tie dinners that included Richard M. Nixon, Mr. Kissinger, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher as guest speakers.

Mr. Black’s trial drew a large contingent of journalists from his native Canada and Britain, and became something of a curiosity in Chicago, a city he had rarely spent time in before his criminal trial but where Hollinger International was based. The company is now called the Sun-Times Media Group.

Charges of various counts of mail and tax fraud were also filed against Hollinger’s former chief financial officer, John A. Boultbee; a former vice president, Peter Y. Atkinson; and a former Hollinger lawyer, Mark S. Kipnis. The three were all found guilty on the same three counts of mail fraud that Mr. Black was — none of them stemming from the more attention-grabbing charges of fraud or the accusations that Mr. Black improperly charged lavish perks to the company.

In the end, Mr. Black and his three colleagues were found guilty of taking illegal payments from the company in two schemes adding up to $6.1 million — a relative trifle in the world of billionaires once inhabited by Mr. Black where, at its peak, his own net worth was estimated at more than $400 million.

Mr. Black and the others, along with F. David Radler, a former business partner, were charged in 2005 with looting Hollinger International of more than $80 million. When the trial began on March 27, the amount was reduced to $60 million, which, Mr. Fitzgerald maintained, was the property of the company.

One of the two schemes that led to convictions involved a subsidiary of Hollinger International paying the defendants for agreeing that they would not compete with that subsidiary, American Publishing Company, for three years if they were to leave the company. At that time, however, American Publishing’s sole asset was a small paper in Mammoth County, Calif., that it was in the process of selling.