Daily Archives: December 22, 2007

FBI to scan Brits’ eyes, earlobes and monitor how they walk

New technology may allow long-range iris scans. Fingerprints, iris scans and even details of the way people walk, their scars and the size and shape of their ear lobes will be collected.

Telegraph | Dec 22, 2007

FBI to collect biometric information on British visitors

By Tim Shipman in Washington

British visitors to the US will have details of their physical characteristics added to a new billion dollar database under plans drawn up by the FBI.

Fingerprints, iris scans and even details of the way people walk, their scars and the size and shape of their ear lobes will be collected.

British intelligence agencies and police will also be able to access the information – giving them potentially more biometric data on British citizens than the Government collects at home.

Under the plans, revealed by the Washington Post, the FBI database will include details on everyone who applies for a visa to enter the US.

Fingerprint information on British tourists is already collected and held by the US Department of Homeland Security.

But the FBI database will also include iris identification, which is being slowly introduced at some ports of entry.

Researchers at West Virginia University are working on technology for the FBI that will let them capture images of people’s irises at distances of up to 15 feet, and of faces from as far away as 200 yards, without them even knowing.

The database will allow the FBI to check all entrants to the US against the faces, fingerprints, palm prints and irises of known terrorists and wanted criminals.

More than 900,000 American police and law enforcement officials will be able to access the data.

A contract to develop the database will be awarded next month. Critics say that peoples’ bodies will effectively become their international identity card – with the downside that if criminals steal your identity and were able to, for example, mimic your iris with a contact lens, you can’t just go and get a new eyeball like you would a new credit card.

Civil liberties campaigners criticised the plans. Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union said: “It’s enabling the always-on surveillance society.”

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Tony Blair converts to Catholicism

The globalist politician greets Pope with a firm Masonic grip.

Tony Blair has completed his long anticipated conversion to Catholicism, as preparation for becoming permanent president over the European Empire.

Telegraph | Dec 22, 2007

By Kerry Grove

The former prime minister was received into the Catholic Church by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, in the chapel of the Archbishop’s House in Westminster last night, after years of speculation that he would convert after leaving Downing Street.

Mr Blair, whose wife Cherie and four children are Catholic, met Pope Benedict XVI on an official visit in June – his third trip to the Vatican in four years.

Now a Middle-East peace envoy, he was reluctant to convert while in office because it could have caused a potential conflict with his role in choosing Church of England bishops.

His views on abortion, gay rights and stem cell research were also at odds with Catholic teaching, and his parish priest Fr Timothy Russ commented that he had “some way to go” on important moral issues.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor has welcomed Mr Blair into the faith. He said: “For a long time he has been a regular worshipper at Mass with his family and in recent months he has been following a programme of formation to prepare for his reception into full communion.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has also wished the former Prime Minister well in his spiritual journey: “Tony Blair has my prayers and good wishes as he takes this step in his Christian pilgrimage.”

While in office, Mr Blair had chosen to keep his religious views private, and last month sparked controversy when he claimed that people who speak about their religious faith can be viewed by society as “nutters”.

Ann Widdecombe, the Conservative MP who converted to Catholicism in 1993, urged Mr Blair to confirm he has changed his views on key issues to conform with Catholic teaching.

“Well I think the crucial thing to remember is at the point you are received (into the Catholic church) you have to say individually and out loud ‘I believe everything the church teaches to be revealed truth’,” she told Sky News.

“And that means if you previously had any problems with church teaching, as Tony Blair obviously did over abortion, as he did again over Sunday trading…you would have to say you changed your mind.

“And I think people will want to know that he did go through that process, because otherwise it will seem as if the church did make an exception for somebody just because of who he is.”

Congressmen: Iraq lawless like the Wild West

 

Jamie Leigh Jones appears before a House subcommittee Wednesday looking into her rape allegations.

CNN | Dec 20, 2007

(CNN) — Government contractors in Iraq face lawlessness reminiscent of America’s Wild West of the 1800s, lawmakers said Wednesday at a House hearing into a contractor’s rape allegations.

“We need a new sheriff in Iraq to enforce federal laws,” said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, while testifying in support of Jamie Leigh Jones, a constituent of his who alleges that fellow employees raped her while she worked for KBR Inc. two years ago in Iraq.

No government entity has stepped up to look out for Jones’ interests in the case or to ensure that the constitutional rights of contract employees are protected, congressmen said.

Jones, appearing before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, said sexual harassment is an overwhelming problem among contractors in Iraq and that “the laws have left us nowhere to turn.”

“Jamie’s case is not unique,” Poe said, adding that three other former KBR employees have come forward with allegations of rape and sexual assault in Iraq. “For American contractors, Iraq seems reminiscent of the Old West days,” he said.

Rep. Artur Davis, D-Alabama, said contractors are given a blank check to commit crimes in Iraq.

“The wrongdoers know very well that they’re not going to be prosecuted,” Davis said.

Rep. Dan Lungren, R-California, called the government’s response to Jones’ allegations “totally unacceptable.”

“This sounds like the way we handled sexual assault cases 50 years ago,” Lungren said.

Committee members ripped the Justice Department for not appearing at the hearing, where a chair at the witness table was left empty for a department employee.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, said questions the committee put to Jones about her case at Wednesday’s hearing should have been handled by a Justice Department representative.

“I’m embarrassed that the Department of Justice can’t even come forward,” Conyers said. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee vowed to hold more hearings into the case.

Jones is suing her former employer, Halliburton Co., and its former subsidiary, KBR Inc.; her alleged attackers; and the U.S. government.

Jones’ federal lawsuit claims that a KBR representative, after an alleged gang rape, placed her in a trailer without access to food, water or a phone with which to call her family.

Later, according to the lawsuit, KBR officials gave Jones two options: Stay and “get over it,” or return home without the “guarantee” of a job in return.

Jones’ allegations are “without merit,” KBR said.

“KBR remains committed to providing a safe working environment for all employees,” the company said in a statement.

Jones’ lawsuit said the alleged rape was the culmination of mistreatment that included being forced into a sexual relationship with a supervisor. The suit also said the assault “never would have occurred but for the ‘boys will be boys’ attitude that permeated the environment.”

Jones said earlier this week that the alleged rape occurred on her fourth night in Iraq at the U.S.-controlled Camp Hope in Baghdad. She said she had met with some co-workers, one of whom gave her a drink. She said she believes it was laced with the date-rape drug Rohypnol.

“After two drinks, I went blank,” Jones said.

The woman said she awoke the next morning, still feeling the effects of the drug, with bruises on her inner thighs, stomach and wrists.

“I was hurting so bad,” Jones said. Video Watch Jones describe what she says happened »

A U.S. Army medic treated her, Jones said, and then called KBR security. She was taken to an Army hospital.

“They confirmed that I was raped in more ways than one,” Jones said. A rape kit was completed and turned over to KBR security, she added.

Jones’ attorney, Todd Kelly, said Monday that KBR has not made the rape kit evidence available.

KBR said it responded to Jones’ allegations by placing her in a secure facility, with a company representative offering her counseling, food and an opportunity to call her parents.

Jones calls that assertion “extremely inaccurate.”

“The HR woman did not let me get food, she did not let me get a drink, and she did not let me get a cell phone,” Jones said.

Jones said a security guard provided her with a cell phone, which she used to call her father. Her father then contacted Poe, her congressman, “to get me out of Iraq,” Jones said.

In a statement, KBR said it investigated Jones’ allegations but was “instructed to cease by government authorities because they were assuming sole responsibility for the criminal investigations.”

The Justice Department has said it is investigating the case but will not comment further on it, according to The Associated Press.

With $40 billon, Putin ‘is now Europe’s richest man’

 
Compared to Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator who plundered Congo, and Ferdinand Marcos, the former ruler of the Philippines. Putin has denounced the claims as “trash”

Telegraph | Dec 22, 2007

By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow

President Vladimir Putin of Russia has been likened to an African plutocrat after a controversial political scientist claimed that he had acquired control of £20 billion in energy assets – enough to make him Europe’s richest man.

Stanislav Belkovsky, a colourful figure on the political scene, claimed that Mr Putin had made a multi-billion pound fortune by controlling stakes in three Russian energy companies.

The allegations – if true – would suggest that Mr Putin is one of the wealthiest men ever to hold public office.

Mr Belkovsky alleged that Mr Putin had acquired $40 billion during his eight years in power, through a network of front-men.

He compared the president to Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator who plundered Congo, and Ferdinand Marcos, the former ruler of the Philippines.

“Russia under Putin is not a version of modern democracy but a typical third world kleptocracy,” said Mr Belkovsky.

But Mr Putin’s spokesman denounced the claims. “It’s nothing but trash,” said Dmitry Peskov.

“Certainly it has nothing to do with seriousness; it has nothing to do with professionalism. It’s just trash.”

According to Mr Belkovsky, Mr Putin controls a 37 per cent stake in Surgutneftegaz, an oil exploration company, as well as 4.5 per cent of Gazprom, the state energy giant, and at least 50 per cent of Gunvor, a Swiss-based oil trading company that has won a series of state contracts.

Mr Belkovsky claimed his information had come from credible sources in the Kremlin – but admitted he had no documentary evidence.

“European and U.S. special services have access to these documents but I don’t,” he said.

Observers were sceptical.

“In a system of state capitalism and total corruption, it would be strange if Putin was not rich,” said Leonid Radzikhovsky, a political analyst.

“But the information about this treasure island seems a little exaggerated. Most Russians do not think about corruption at presidential level or do not want to think about it.”

Mr Radzikhovsky added: “It is difficult to understand Belkovsky. He is known as a source of confusing information and it is hard to treat it seriously.

“He is an adventurer. He may be driven by his own morbid ambitions. He really knows a lot of people in high places but who is he to know the secrets of the person who has all the possible and impossible ways to hide his secrets?”

The endgame of Mr Putin’s presidency, and his plans for the succession, have been thrown off balance by infighting between rival Kremlin clans.

At least three groups, two led by ex-KGB officials, have been in open warfare since October.

On Oct 3, General Alexander Bulbov, deputy head of the federal drug agency, and a member of a hardline clan of “Siloviki” – former KGB and security officials – was arrested by a rival Siloviki faction.

The “liberal” faction was damaged when Sergei Storchak, the deputy finance minister, was arrested last month.

Far from being watertight, Mr Putin’s Kremlin now leaks like a sieve.

The President is theoretically above the clans and tries to balance their clashes.

If he does have a faction, it consists of businessmen who have become very wealthy under his rule.

Mr Belkovsky named at least three of them as front-men for the president’s alleged fortune.

He also cited Igor Sechin, a deputy chief of Kremlin staff, leader of the most hardline “Siloviki” faction and one of the country’s most powerful men.

Mr Putin appeared to have sidelined Mr Sechin’s clan when he announced that Dmitry Medvedev, a relative liberal, would be his successor as president.

Mr Sechin and other ex-KGB figures would never rally around Mr Medvedev.

Mr Putin may calculate that he can keep their loyalty, leaving the new president isolated.

Mr Putin may calculate that he can keep their loyalty, leaving the new president isolated.

What game Mr Belkovsky is playing – and on whose behalf – is unclear.

He has been accused of starting a smear campaign against the oligarch, Mikhail Khodorokovsky, a fierce critic of Mr Putin who was jailed in 2005.

Mr Belkovsky’s allegations about the president’s money first emerged in a book he published last year.

More women report KBR – Halliburton assaults in Iraq

Associated Press | Dec 19, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) – Several women have joined a Texan in claiming sexual harassment and assault while working in Iraq for Halliburton’s former subsidiary — KBR.

The women have given lawyers and a congressman accounts similar to the rape allegations of Jamie Leigh Jones of Conroe.

Jones today told the U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee: “This problem goes way beyond just me.”

Jones says she was raped in July 2005 by a co-worker who drugged her.

Congressman Ted Poe of Houston says three women – including Tracy Barker, who submitted written testimony of her account and was at the hearing – contacted him.

KBR says it was not invited to testify at the hearing. The company reiterated a statement that KBR’s top priority is the safety and security of all employees.

The Associated Press does not usually identify people who say they were sexually assaulted, but Jones and others named here have made their identities public.

Gang-raped by contractors in Iraq

The Australian | Dec 21, 2007

A TEXAN woman who claims to have been raped by American contractors in Iraq testified in Congress yesterday, telling legislators she was kept under armed guard in her trailer after reporting the incident.

Jamie Leigh Jones, 23, said she was gang-raped inside Baghdad’s Green Zone in July 2005 while she was working for Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc, which has contracts with the US military.

Ms Jones said she knew of at least 11 other women who were raped by US contractors in Iraq.

“This problem goes way beyond just me,” she told the House of Representatives subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security.

Ms Jones said that on her fourth day in Baghdad, some co-workers, whom she described as Halliburton-KBR firefighters, invited her for a drink.

“I took two sips from the drink and don’t remember anything after that,” she said.

The next morning she woke groggy and confused and with a sore chest and blood between her legs. She reported the incident to KBR and was examined by an army doctor, who confirmed she had been repeatedly raped vaginally and anally. The doctor took photographs and made notes and handed all the evidence over to KBR personnel.

“The KBR security then took me to a trailer and locked me in a room with two armed guards outside my door,” Ms Jones testified. “I was imprisoned in the trailer for approximately a day. One of the guards finally had mercy and let me use a phone.”

Ms Jones called her father in Texas, who called his representative in Congress, Republican Ted Poe, who contacted the State Department, which quickly sent personnel to rescue Ms Jones and fly her back to Texas.

“Iraq is reminiscent of the Old Western days and no one seems to be in charge,” Mr Poe told the subcommittee. “The law must intervene, and these outlaws need to be rounded up and order restored.”

Ms Jones said the rape was so brutal she was still undergoing reconstructive surgery. She tried to get her case resolved first through KBR channels, then through the Justice Department. When neither course seemed to work, she gave an interview to US television network ABC.

KBR has been silent on the matter, although the ABC said the company circulated a memo among employees signed by president and CEO Bill Utt saying it “disputes portions of Ms Jamie Leigh Jones’ version and facts”.

Ms Jones’s KBR contract included a clause that prevents her from suing her employer, Mr Poe said. That would likely force her into arbitration, which he described as “a privatised justice system with no public record, no discovery and no meaningful appeal”.

There are many laws that the Justice Department “can enforce with respect to contractors who commit crimes abroad, but it chooses not to,” Democrat committee member Robert Scott said.

Fellow Democrat John Conyers said the incident showed “how far out of control the lawenforcement system in Iraq is today”.

There are 180,000 civilian contractor employees in Iraq, including more than 21,000 Americans.

Hundreds of scientists reject global warming

Basing policy on carbon dioxide levels ‘potentially disastrous economic folly’

WorldNetDaily.com | Dec 21, 2007

By Bob Unruh

A new U.S. Senate report documents hundreds of prominent scientists – experts in dozens of fields of study worldwide – who say global warming and cooling is a cycle of nature and cannot legitimately be connected to man’s activities.

“Of course I believe in global warming, and in global cooling – all part of the natural climate changes that the Earth has experienced for billions of years, caused primarily by the cyclical variations in solar output,” said research physicist John W. Brosnahan, who develops remote-sensing instruments for atmospheric science for clients including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.

However, he said, “I have not seen any sort of definitive, scientific link to man-made carbon dioxide as the root cause of the current global warming, only incomplete computer models that suggest that this might be the case.

“Even though these computer climate models do not properly handle a number of important factors, including the role of precipitation as a temperature regulator, they are being (mis-)used to force a political agenda upon the U.S.,” he continued. “While there are any number of reasons to reduce carbon dioxide generation, to base any major fiscal policy on the role of carbon dioxide in climate change would be inappropriate and imprudent at best and potentially disastrous economic folly at the worst.”

The report compiled observations from more than 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen nations who have voiced objections to claims of a “consensus” on “man-made global warming.”

Many of the scientists are current or former participants in the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose present officials, along with former Vice President Al Gore, have asserted a definite connection.

The new report, which comes from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s office of the GOP ranking member, cites the hundreds of opinions issued just this year asserting global warming and man’s activities are unrelated.

“Even some in the establishment media now appear to be taking notice of the growing number of skeptical scientists,” the introduction to the Senate report said. “In October, the Washington Post Staff Writer Juliet Eilperin conceded the obvious, writing that climate skeptics ‘appear to be expanding rather than shrinking.’

“Many scientists from around the world have dubbed 2007 as the year man-made global warming fears ‘bite the dust,'” the introduction said.

And there probably would be many more scientists making such statements, were it not for the fear of retaliation from those aboard the global-warming-is-caused-by-SUVs bandwagon, the report said.

“Many of my colleagues with whom I spoke share these views and report on their inability to publish their skepticism in the scientific or public media,” noted Nathan Paldor, professor of Dynamical Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The author of almost 70 peer-reviewed studies said, “First, temperature changes, as well as rates of temperature changes (both increase and decrease) of magnitudes similar to that reported by IPCC to have occurred since the Industrial revolution (about 0.8C in 150 years or even 0.4C in the last 35 years) have occurred in Earth’s climatic history. There’s nothing special about the recent rise!”

At an earlier hearing, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., confronted Stephen Johnson, administrator of the EPA, about a threatening e-mail from a group that includes the EPA. The e-mail from the American Council on Renewable Energy was addressed to Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and said, “It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on.”

It was signed Michael T. Eckhart, president of ACORE.

The scientists cited in the new study hail from Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, New Zealand, France, Russia and the United States. They defied the idea promoted by various political and environmental agendas that man’s activities are endangering the future of the Earth through contributions to a rise in temperatures.

Paleoclimatologist Tim Patterson, professor in the department of Earth sciences at Carleton University in Ottawa, recently converted from a believer in man-made climate change to a skeptic. Patterson noted that the notion of a “consensus” of scientists aligned with the U.N. IPCC or former Vice President Al Gore is false.

“I was at the Geological Society of America meeting in Philadelphia in the fall, and I would say that people with my opinion were probably in the majority,” he said.

The report was generated after U.N. IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri implied there were only “about half a dozen” skeptical scientists left in the world.

Gore has likened skeptics of the global-warming philosophy to “flat Earth society members.”

But the Senate report noted the scientists who are expressing a dissatisfaction with such generalizations include experts in climatology, geology, oceanography, biology, glaciology, biogeography, meteorology, economics, chemistry, mathematics, environmental sciences, engineering, physics and paleoclimatology.

“Some of those profiled have won Nobel Prizes for their outstanding contribution to their field of expertise and many shared a portion of the UN IPCC Nobel Peace Price with Vice President Gore,” the report said.

Besides the Nobel Gore shared over the issue of global warming, he also won an Oscar for his work on “An Inconvenient Truth,” which proclaims the validity of man-made global warming and advocates urgent action.

However, Muriel Newman, director of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, has told Academy President Sid Ganis and Executive Director Bruce Davis that the honor should be withdrawn.

That’s because British High Court judge Michael Burton has concluded Gore’s documentary should be shown in British schools only with guidance notes to prevent political indoctrination. The decision followed a lawsuit by a father, Stewart Dimmock, who claimed the film contained “serious scientific inaccuracies, political propaganda and sentimental mush.”

The Nobel panel honored Gore and the IPCC for their efforts to spread awareness of “man-made climate change.”

But the British court pointed to 11 inaccuracies in the production:

“The truth, as inconvenient as it is to Al Gore, is that his so-called documentary contained critical distortions that are quite contrary to the principles of good documentary journalism,” Newman said. “Good documentaries should be factually correct. Clearly this documentary is not.”

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