Daily Archives: May 20, 2008

China’s All-Seeing Eye

all-seeing-eye

With the help of U.S. defense contractors, China is building the prototype for a high-tech police state. It is ready for export.

Rolling Stone | May 29, 2008

The workers at FSAN don’t just make surveillance cameras; they are constantly watched by them. While they work, the silent eyes of rotating lenses capture their every move. When they leave work and board buses, they are filmed again. When they walk to their dormitories, the streets are lined with what look like newly installed streetlamps, their white poles curving toward the sidewalk with black domes at the ends. Inside the domes are high-resolution cameras, the same kind the workers produce at FSAN. Some blocks have three or four, one every few yards. One Shenzhen-based company, China Security & Surveillance Technology, has developed software to enable the cameras to alert police when an unusual number of people begin to gather at any given location.

by NAOMI KLEIN

Thirty years ago, the city of Shenzhen didn’t exist. Back in those days, it was a string of small fishing villages and collectively run rice paddies, a place of rutted dirt roads and traditional temples. That was before the Communist Party chose it — thanks to its location close to Hong Kong’s port — to be China’s first “special economic zone,” one of only four areas where capitalism would be permitted on a trial basis. The theory behind the experiment was that the “real” China would keep its socialist soul intact while profiting from the private-sector jobs and industrial development created in Shenzhen. The result was a city of pure commerce, undiluted by history or rooted culture — the crack cocaine of capitalism. It was a force so addictive to investors that the Shenzhen experiment quickly expanded, swallowing not just the surrounding Pearl River Delta, which now houses roughly 100,000 factories, but much of the rest of the country as well.

Today, Shenzhen is a city of 12.4 million people, and there is a good chance that at least half of everything you own was made here: iPods, laptops, sneakers, flatscreen TVs, cellphones, jeans, maybe your desk chair, possibly your car and almost certainly your printer. Hundreds of luxury condominiums tower over the city; many are more than 40 stories high, topped with three-story penthouses. Newer neighborhoods like Keji Yuan are packed with ostentatiously modern corporate campuses and decadent shopping malls. Rem Koolhaas, Prada’s favorite architect, is building a stock exchange in Shenzhen that looks like it floats — a design intended, he says, to “suggest and illustrate the process of the market.” A still-under-construction superlight subway will soon connect it all at high speed; every car has multiple TV screens broadcasting over a Wi-Fi network. At night, the entire city lights up like a pimped-out Hummer, with each five-star hotel and office tower competing over who can put on the best light show.

Many of the big American players have set up shop in Shenzhen, but they look singularly unimpressive next to their Chinese competitors. The research complex for China’s telecom giant Huawei, for instance, is so large that it has its own highway exit, while its workers ride home on their own bus line. Pressed up against Shenzhen’s disco shopping centers, Wal-Mart superstores — of which there are nine in the city — look like dreary corner stores. (China almost seems to be mocking us: “You call that a superstore?”) McDonald’s and KFC appear every few blocks, but they seem almost retro next to the Real Kung Fu fast-food chain, whose mascot is a stylized Bruce Lee.

American commentators like CNN’s Jack Cafferty dismiss the Chinese as “the same bunch of goons and thugs they’ve been for the last 50 years.” But nobody told the people of Shenzhen, who are busily putting on a 24-hour-a-day show called “America” — a pirated version of the original, only with flashier design, higher profits and less complaining. This has not happened by accident. China today, epitomized by Shenzhen’s transition from mud to megacity in 30 years, represents a new way to organize society. Sometimes called “market Stalinism,” it is a potent hybrid of the most powerful political tools of authoritarian communism — central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance — harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism.

China is the “Model State” for the United Nations and the Masonic Illuminati

Now, as China prepares to showcase its economic advances during the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, Shenzhen is once again serving as a laboratory, a testing ground for the next phase of this vast social experiment. Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts. The closed-circuit TV cameras will soon be connected to a single, nationwide network, an all-seeing system that will be capable of tracking and identifying anyone who comes within its range — a project driven in part by U.S. technology and investment. Over the next three years, Chinese security executives predict they will install as many as 2 million CCTVs in Shenzhen, which would make it the most watched city in the world. (Security-crazy London boasts only half a million surveillance cameras.)

The security cameras are just one part of a much broader high-tech surveillance and censorship program known in China as “Golden Shield.” The end goal is to use the latest people-tracking technology — thoughtfully supplied by American giants like IBM, Honeywell and General Electric — to create an airtight consumer cocoon: a place where Visa cards, Adidas sneakers, China Mobile cellphones, McDonald’s Happy Meals, Tsingtao beer and UPS delivery (to name just a few of the official sponsors of the Beijing Olympics) can be enjoyed under the unblinking eye of the state, without the threat of democracy breaking out. With political unrest on the rise across China, the government hopes to use the surveillance shield to identify and counteract dissent before it explodes into a mass movement like the one that grabbed the world’s attention at Tiananmen Square.

Remember how we’ve always been told that free markets and free people go hand in hand? That was a lie. It turns out that the most efficient delivery system for capitalism is actually a communist-style police state, fortressed with American “homeland security” technologies, pumped up with “war on terror” rhetoric. And the global corporations currently earning superprofits from this social experiment are unlikely to be content if the lucrative new market remains confined to cities such as Shenzhen. Like everything else assembled in China with American parts, Police State 2.0 is ready for export to a neighborhood near you.

Zhang Yi points to an empty bracket on the dashboard of his black Honda. “It used to hold my GPS, but I leave it at home now,” he says. “It’s the crime — they are too easy to steal.” He quickly adds, “Since the surveillance cameras came in, we have seen a very dramatic decrease in crime in Shenzhen.”

After driving for an hour past hundreds of factory gates and industrial parks, we pull up to a salmon-color building that Zhang partly owns. This is the headquarters of FSAN: CCTV System. Zhang, a prototypical Shenzhen yuppie in a royal-blue button-down shirt and black-rimmed glasses, apologizes for the mess. Inside, every inch of space is lined with cardboard boxes filled with electronics parts and finished products.

Zhang opened the factory two and a half years ago, and his investment has already paid off tenfold. That kind of growth isn’t unusual in the field he has chosen: Zhang’s factory makes digital surveillance cameras, turning out 400,000 a year. Half of the cameras are shipped overseas, destined to peer from building ledges in London, Manhattan and Dubai as part of the global boom in “homeland security.” The other half stays in China, many right here in Shenzhen and in neighboring Guangzhou, another megacity of 12 million people. China’s market for surveillance cameras enjoyed revenues of $4.1 billion last year, a jump of 24 percent from 2006.

Zhang escorts me to the assembly line, where rows of young workers, most of them women, are bent over semiconductors, circuit boards, tiny cables and bulbs. At the end of each line is “quality control,” which consists of plugging the camera into a monitor and making sure that it records. We enter a showroom where Zhang and his colleagues meet with clients. The walls are lined with dozens of camera models: domes of all sizes, specializing in day and night, wet and dry, camouflaged to look like lights, camouflaged to look like smoke detectors, explosion-proof, the size of a soccer ball, the size of a ring box.

The workers at FSAN don’t just make surveillance cameras; they are constantly watched by them. While they work, the silent eyes of rotating lenses capture their every move. When they leave work and board buses, they are filmed again. When they walk to their dormitories, the streets are lined with what look like newly installed streetlamps, their white poles curving toward the sidewalk with black domes at the ends. Inside the domes are high-resolution cameras, the same kind the workers produce at FSAN. Some blocks have three or four, one every few yards. One Shenzhen-based company, China Security & Surveillance Technology, has developed software to enable the cameras to alert police when an unusual number of people begin to gather at any given location.

In 2006, the Chinese government mandated that all Internet cafes (as well as restaurants and other “entertainment” venues) install video cameras with direct feeds to their local police stations. Part of a wider surveillance project known as “Safe Cities,” the effort now encompasses 660 municipalities in China. It is the most ambitious new government program in the Pearl River Delta, and supplying it is one of the fastest-growing new markets in Shenzhen.

But the cameras that Zhang manufactures are only part of the massive experiment in population control that is under way here. “The big picture,” Zhang tells me in his office at the factory, “is integration.” That means linking cameras with other forms of surveillance: the Internet, phones, facial-recognition software and GPS monitoring.

This is how this Golden Shield will work: Chinese citizens will be watched around the clock through networked CCTV cameras and remote monitoring of computers. They will be listened to on their phone calls, monitored by digital voice-recognition technologies. Their Internet access will be aggressively limited through the country’s notorious system of online controls known as the “Great Firewall.” Their movements will be tracked through national ID cards with scannable computer chips and photos that are instantly uploaded to police databases and linked to their holder’s personal data. This is the most important element of all: linking all these tools together in a massive, searchable database of names, photos, residency information, work history and biometric data. When Golden Shield is finished, there will be a photo in those databases for every person in China: 1.3 billion faces.

Full Story

Celebrity fundraising for Africa ‘goes to civil wars’

bono

Irish rock star and anti-poverty activist Bono and his band U2 were last year outed as tax-evaders. Photo / Reuters

New Zealand Herald | May 14, 2008

By Linda Herrick

Billions of dollars raised for African famine relief by celebrities Bono and Bob Geldof have instead funded civil war across the continent, says terrorism expert Dr Loretta Napoleoni.

London-based Napoleoni, in Auckland to appear at the Writers & Readers Festival, has written two books, Terror Inc: Tracing the Money Behind Global Terrorism and Insurgent Iraq: Al-Zarqawi and the New Generation, on the economics of terrorism.

Her latest book, Rogue Economics, studies the destabilising effect of economic globalisation, focusing in part on why more than half a trillion dollars worth of aid sent to Africa since the 1960s failed to reach the intended destination – developing the nations’ economies.

That huge amount of aid, which includes money from the United Nations and donations generated by Live Aid for Ethiopia, organised by Geldof, and the Live 8 concert in 2005, organised by Bono, has instead “served as a rogue force, notably as an important form of terrorist financing” in countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Kenya. Ethiopia, for example, received $1.8 billion in foreign aid between 1982-85, including a large contribution from Live Aid; $1.6 billion of that, she points out, was spent on buying military equipment.

“The money has ended up making Africa poorer and more violent because the money has been diverted towards warlords, weapons and armed invasions,” she says. “The problem of Africa is corruption.”

Napoleoni says there are parallels with Burma in the aftermath of the cyclone as aid organisations appeal for donations. “What is happening in Burma is a good example. You can have the best intentions but getting the money to the people in need is very hard because you have to go through the bureaucracy. The problem is the governance. You also need expertise. What the international relief organisations are saying is, you should send people from our team who know exactly what to do in these circumstances.”

The cult of celebrity means that people who are famous for nothing more than being pop or movie stars speak out on issues they don’t fully understand. “People like Bono and Bob Geldof are not ill-intentioned,” she says. “But the simple fact that being a celebrity puts you in a position above everybody else is unacceptable.

“These people don’t realise they are being manipulated by politicians and others. That is the case in the relationship between Bono and [American economist] Jeffrey Sachs, who is among the people who caused the chaos of the transition of the former communist countries into free-market economics. Sachs has been trying to relaunch himself as a sort of economist celebrity so he has been linking himself to Bono.

“Bono is repeating what he has been told about Africa. I am sure Bono hasn’t got a clue about economics.”

Napoleoni, who knows Geldof as a neighbour in the London suburb of Battersea, says he told her the first Live Aid was the “worse experience of his life because he found it very difficult to control where the money went. He suddenly realised it’s easy to put famous musicians together to make money but to bring the money to the people in need is another matter.”

Napoleoni adds that there is a certain amount of hypocrisy among stars linked to good causes. Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Bono and the other members of U2 were last year outed as tax-evaders for diverting their funds to the Netherlands, circumventing their democratic responsibilities to their home country of Ireland.

And Brad Pitt, Napoleoni points out, may drive a hybrid car, but he and Angelina Jolie use a private jet. Their trip to Namibia a couple of years ago, she notes, burned up enough fuel to take Pitt’s hybrid all the way to the moon.

Taxpayers’ bill leaps by trillions

USA TODAY | May 19, 2008

By Dennis Cauchon

The federal government’s long-term financial obligations grew by $2.5 trillion last year, a reflection of the mushrooming cost of Medicare and Social Security benefits as more baby boomers reach retirement.

That’s double the red ink of a year earlier.

Taxpayers are on the hook for a record $57.3 trillion in federal liabilities to cover the lifetime benefits of everyone eligible for Medicare, Social Security and other government programs, a USA TODAY analysis found. That’s nearly $500,000 per household.

When obligations of state and local governments are added, the total rises to $61.7 trillion, or $531,472 per household. That is more than four times what Americans owe in personal debt such as mortgages.

The $2.5 trillion in federal liabilities dwarfs the $162 billion the government officially announced as last year’s deficit, down from $248 billion a year earlier.

“We’re running deficits in the trillions of dollars, not the hundreds of billions of dollars we’re being told,” says Sheila Weinberg, chief executive of the Institute for Truth in Accounting of Chicago.

The reason for the discrepancy: Accounting standards require corporations and state governments to count new financial obligations, even if the payments will be made later. The federal government doesn’t follow that rule. Instead of counting lifetime benefits for programs such as Social Security, the government counts the cost of benefits for the current year.

The deteriorating condition of these programs doesn’t show up in the government’s bottom line, but the information is released elsewhere — in Medicare’s annual report, for example. Since 2004, USA TODAY has collected the information to provide taxpayers with a financial report similar to what a corporation would give shareholders. Big new liabilities taken on in 2007:

• Medicare: $1.2 trillion.

• Social Security: $900 billion.

• Civil servant retirement: $106 billion.

• Veteran benefits: $34 billion.

The multitrillion-dollar loss is a more meaningful financial number than the official deficit, says Tom Allen, chairman of the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, which helps set federal accounting rules.

Medicare has an unfunded liability of $30.4 trillion.

That means, in addition to paying all future Medicare taxes, the government needs $30.4 trillion set aside in an interest-earning account to pay benefits promised to existing taxpayers and beneficiaries. The amount is sure to rise when the oldest of 79 million baby boomers — 62 this year — reach 65 and become eligible.

Economist Dean Baker says the huge liabilities are potentially misleading because future generations will have greater income. “If we fix health care, then our deficits can be easily dealt with,” he says.

Related

Entitlement liabilities cost over $500K per household
Uncle Sam wants you … to cough up a half-million dollars to fund current entitlement obligations.

Church uses $500 gas raffle to lure worshippers

church-gas

A sign indicating free gas and a phone number beckons motorists as they pass First Baptist Church in Snellville, Ga. The church is raffling two $500 tickets for free gas with the intentions of drawing people to revival services as well as making an effort to serve the community with the gesture.

AP | May 20, 2008

By John Amis

SNELLVILLE, Ga. (AP) — So much for spaghetti suppers: The First Baptist Church of Snellville is fueling its membership drive with a sign in front of its sprawling campus proclaiming “Free Gasoline.”

There’s a catch, of course. The offer is a not a giveaway. Instead, each time newcomers or members attend a church event during a Sunday-to-Wednesday revival they get a pink raffle ticket for a chance to win one of two $500 gas cards.

“We don’t know how far it will go with these soaring prices,” said Rusty Newman, the church’s senior pastor. “But it may make someone’s night.”

Newman’s congregation boasts roughly 9,000 members, but only about 2,500 regularly attend Sunday services.

The church, like others, has long relied on special dinners and giveaways to draw in members, but elders wanted something a little more timely for this latest pitch.

They set up a sign advertising the offer outside the church’s parking lot on a busy road near downtown Snellville, a traffic-clogged suburb northeast of Atlanta.

“How can we capture those people?” asked James Lee, the church’s minister to seniors, who came up with the idea. “We’re strong in door-to-door evangelism, but there’s no way to reach them all.”

Soon the calls came flooding in. Church staffer Lisa Gauthier said she’s handled dozens of them each day, some from as far afield as Seattle. Radio show hosts in Oregon caught wind of the idea and invited Newman on air. So many inquiries came pouring in that Newman had to order a new phone line and dedicate a receptionist to answering each one.

Newman views it as a service to the community, and he’s looked to the Bible for his endorsement. One passage he mentions to support his idea involves Jesus feeding 5,000 with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.

“Some pastors have questioned our motives,” Newman said. “If it was just to get people in the building, it would be wrong. But we want to meet someone’s physical need and eternal spiritual needs.”

Prince Charles: 18 months to climate doomsday

Prince Charles: Eighteen months to stop climate change disaster

Barclays, Shell, Goldman Sachs and McDonald’s to join his campaign.

Telegraph | May 18, 2008

By Andrew Pierce

The Prince of Wales has warned that the world faces a series of natural disasters within 18 months unless urgent action is taken to save the rainforests.

In one of his most out-spoken interventions in the climate change debate, he said a £15 billion annual programme was required to halt deforestation or the world would have to live with the dire consequences.

“We will end up seeing more drought and starvation on a grand scale. Weather patterns will become even more terrifying and there will be less and less rainfall,” he said.

“We are asking for something pretty dreadful unless we really understand the issues now and [the] urgency of them.” The Prince said the rainforests, which provide the “air conditioning system for the entire planet”, releasing water vapour and absorbing carbon, were being lost to poor farmers desperate to make a living.

He said that every year, 20 million hectares of forest – equivalent to the area of England, Wales and Scotland – were destroyed and called for a “gigantic partnership” of governments, businesses and consumers to slow it down.

“What we have got to do is try to ensure that these forests are more valuable alive than dead. At the moment, there is more value in them being dead,” he said.

He estimated that the cost would be about £15 billion a year but said that this should be viewed as an insurance policy for the whole world. “That is roughly just under one per cent of all the insurance premiums paid in the world in any one year. It is an insurance premium to ensure the world has some rainfall and reasonable weather patterns. It is a good deal.”

Last month, the Prince had a meeting at St James’s Palace with four state governors from Brazil to discuss the best way to allocate the money. One option would be for an organisation such as the World Bank to administer the fund. The Prince made clear yesterday that if nothing was done there was a “severe danger of losing a major part of the battle against climate change”.

In an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme, the Prince disclosed that he had raised his concerns with the White House, Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, and President Sarkozy, of France. He said he had pressed Barclays, Shell, Goldman Sachs and McDonald’s to join his campaign.

But he also said consumers had to play their part by choosing products that were environmentally sustainable and called for improvements in labelling.

He denied, however, that he was interfering in the political process. “All I am ever trying to do is to provide an enabling facility,” he said.

He conceded that at times he had been forced to keep his counsel when he would have liked to have spoken out. “You learn as you go along. I am going to be 60 this year. I would be a blinding idiot if I had not learnt a bit by now.”

•The number of birds, animals, marine and freshwater creatures in the world has dropped by almost one third, according to the WWF conservation organisation. It found that between 1970 and 2005 land-based species fell by 25 per cent, marine species by 28 per cent and freshwater species by 29 per cent.

Related

31,000 scientists reject ‘global warming’ agenda
‘Mr. Gore’s movie has claims no informed expert endorses’

Britain gets ‘Big Brother’ database for phones and e-mails

New database increases power of surveillance over citizens

The Times | May 20, 2008

By Richard Ford

A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public is being planned as part of the fight against crime and terrorism. Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms companies would hand over the records to the Home Office under plans put forward by officials.

The information would be held for at least 12 months and the police and security services would be able to access it if given permission from the courts.

The proposal will raise further alarm about a “Big Brother” society, as it follows plans for vast databases for the ID cards scheme and NHS patients. There will also be concern about the ability of the Government to manage a system holding billions of records. About 57 billion text messages were sent in Britain last year, while an estimated 3 billion e-mails are sent every day.

Home Office officials have discussed the option of the national database with telecommunications companies and ISPs as part of preparations for a data communications Bill to be in November’s Queen’s Speech. But the plan has not been sent to ministers yet.

Industry sources gave warning that a single database would be at greater risk of attack and abuse.

Jonathan Bamford, the assistant Information Commissioner, said: “This would give us serious concerns and may well be a step too far. We are not aware of any justification for the State to hold every UK citizen’s phone and internet records. We have real doubts that such a measure can be justified, or is proportionate or desirable. We have warned before that we are sleepwalking into a surveillance society. Holding large collections of data is always risky – the more data that is collected and stored, the bigger the problem when the data is lost, traded or stolen.”

David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: “Given [ministers’] appalling record at maintaining the integrity of databases holding people’s sensitive data, this could well be more of a threat to our security, than a support.”

The proposal has emerged as part of plans to implement an EU directive developed after the July 7 bombings to bring uniformity of record-keeping. Since last October telecoms companies have been required to keep records of phone calls and text messages for 12 months. That requirement is to be extended to internet, e-mail and voice-over-internet use and included in a Communications Data Bill.

Police and the security services can access the records with a warrant issued by the courts. Rather than individual companies holding the information, Home Office officials are suggesting the records be handed over to the Government and stored on a huge database.

One of the arguments being put forward in favour of the plan is that it would make it simpler and swifter for law enforcement agencies to retrieve the information instead of having to approach hundreds of service providers. Opponents say that the scope for abuse will be greater if the records are held on one database.

A Home Office spokesman said the Bill was needed to reflect changes in communication that would “increasingly undermine our current capabilities to obtain communications data and use it to protect the public”.

31,000 scientists reject ‘global warming’ agenda

gorecheck

Gore recently received a check for a million dollars from an Israeli group, the Dan David Foundation, for spreading global warming hysteria

‘Mr. Gore’s movie has claims no informed expert endorses’

WorldNetDaily | May 19, 2008

By Bob Unruh

More than 31,000 scientists across the United States, including more than 9,000 Ph.D.s in fields including atmospheric science, climatology, Earth science, environment and dozens of other specialties, have signed a petition rejecting “global warming,” the assumption that the human production of greenhouse gases is damaging Earth’s climate.

“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate,” the petition states. “Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

The Petition Project actually was launched nearly 10 years ago, when the first few thousand signatures were assembled. Then between 1999 and 2007, the list of signatures grew gradually without any special effort or campaign.

But now, a new effort has been conducted because of an “escalation of the claims of ‘consensus,’ release of the movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ by Mr. Al Gore, and related events,” according to officials with the project.

“Mr. Gore’s movie, asserting a ‘consensus’ and ‘settled science’ in agreement about human-caused global warming, conveyed the claims about human-caused global warming to ordinary movie goers and to public school children, to whom the film was widely distributed. Unfortunately, Mr. Gore’s movie contains many very serious incorrect claims which no informed, honest scientist could endorse,” said project spokesman and founder Art Robinson.

WND submitted a request to Al Gore’s office for comment, but did not get a response.

Robinson said the dire warnings about “global warming” have gone far beyond semantics or scientific discussion now to the point they are actually endangering people.

“The campaign to severely ration hydrocarbon energy technology has now been markedly expanded,” he said. “In the course of this campaign, many scientifically invalid claims about impending climate emergencies are being made. Simultaneously, proposed political actions to severely reduce hydrocarbon use now threaten the prosperity of Americans and the very existence of hundreds of millions of people in poorer countries,” he said.

In just the past few weeks, there have been various allegations that both shark attacks and typhoons have been sparked by “global warming.”

The late Professor Frederick Seitz, the past president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and winner of the National Medal of Science, wrote in a letter promoting the petition, “The United States is very close to adopting an international agreement that would ration the use of energy and of technologies that depend upon coal, oil, and natural gas and some other organic compounds.”

“This treaty is, in our opinion, based upon flawed ideas. Research data on climate change do not show that human use of hydrocarbons is harmful. To the contrary, there is good evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful,” he wrote.

Accompanying the letter sent to scientists was a 12-page summary and review of research on “global warming,” officials said.

“The proposed agreement would have very negative effects upon the technology of nations throughout the world, especially those that are currently attempting to lift from poverty and provide opportunities to the over 4 billion people in technologically underdeveloped countries,” Seitz wrote.

Robinson said the project targets scientists because, “It is especially important for America to hear from its citizens who have the training necessary to evaluate the relevant data and offer sound advice.’

He said the “global warming agreement,” written in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, and other plans “would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.”

“Yet,” he said, “the United Nations and other vocal political interests say the U.S. must enact new laws that will sharply reduce domestic energy production and raise energy prices even higher.”

“The inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness include the right of access to life-giving and life-enhancing technology. This is especially true of access to the most basic of all technologies: energy. These human rights have been extensively and wrongly abridged,” he continued. “During the past two generations in the U.S., a system of high taxation, extensive regulation, and ubiquitous litigation has arisen that prevents the accumulation of sufficient capital and the exercise of sufficient freedom to build and preserve needed modern technology.

“These unfavorable political trends have severely damaged our energy production, where lack of industrial progress has left our country dependent upon foreign sources for 30 percent of the energy required to maintain our current level of prosperity,” he said. “Moreover, the transfer of other U.S. industries abroad as a result of these same trends has left U.S. citizens with too few goods and services to trade for the energy that they do not produce. A huge and unsustainable trade deficit and rapidly rising energy prices have been the result.”

“The necessary hydrocarbon and nuclear energy production technologies have been available to U.S. engineers for many decades. We can develop these resources without harm to people or the environment. There is absolutely no technical, resource, or environmental reason for the U.S. to be a net importer of energy. The U.S. should, in fact, be a net exporter of energy,” he said.

He told WND the issue has nothing to do with energy itself, but everything to do with power, control and money, which the United Nations is seeking. He accused the U.N. of violating human rights in its campaign to ban much energy research, exploration and development.

Full Story

British Parliament defies public outrage to allow human-animal embryos for research

Daily Mail | May 20, 2008

By James Chapman

Millenia of moral, religious and scientific belief were defied last night by MPs who voted to allow the creation of human/animal embryos.

In a landmark move which isolates Britain in the western world, they backed Government proposals which herald the dawn of a new era of experimentation.

Despite fierce objections, politicians placed the need for greater medical understanding above the dangers of tinkering with the essence of life – even though many leading scientists argue that hybrid embryos are unlikely to bring
promised cures.

Opponents warned that the decision had made Britain a ‘rogue state’ and pointed to 21 other countries where such moves had been banned.

Catholic Church leaders have condemned the use of hybrid embryos as ‘monstrous’ and say tinkering in such a way is immoral.

Even fertility expert Lord Winston – who supports the Government’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill – has said it would not greatly matter if scientists were not allowed to engineer human/animal embryos for medical experiments.

But Gordon Brown urged MPs to back the work, saying it is a ‘moral endeavour’ which could save thousands of lives by producing treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

An amendment to the Bill, attempting to block the creation of such embryos as a source of cells for research, was defeated by 336 to 176.

Last night MPs also rejected a proposal to outlaw the creation of saviour siblings, which are babies born from embryos selected because they are a tissue match for a brother or sister with a genetic condition.

They voted 163 in favour of the ban and 342 against – a healthy majority of 179 for the Government measure.

But a string of ministers either abstained or voted against the Government in the first of two days of debate which will determine the future of embryo research, IVF treatment and abortion. Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly, Defence Secretary Des Browne and Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy, all Catholics, backed attempts to ban the creation of hybrid embryos.

Today up to seven ministers are expected to join about 200 MPs backing a lower time limit on abortions carried out for social rather than medical reasons.

The Government is increasingly nervous that MPs will reject the Government’s position that no change to the current threshold of 24 weeks is justified.

The outcome is almost impossible to predict, since MPs have been given a free vote. But there is also concern among Labour whips that a plan to abolish the requirement for IVF clinics to take account of a child’s need for a father might be defeated.

Scientists developing hybrid embryos say they will provide an alternative source of stem cells – basic cells which can develop into many different types of tissue – for use in medical research. Currently, they have to rely on donated human embryos.

Chinese scientists were the first to create human-animal embryos. In 2003 a team at the Shanghai Second Medical University fused human cells with rabbit eggs.

But many countries have banned such research, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Italy. Others, including Austria, Norway and Tunisia do not allow embryo research at all.

In yesterday’s debate Tory MP Edward Leigh, leading the revolt against the Government’s plans for hybrid embryo experiments, warned that they would ‘tear down the ultimate boundary between human and animal’.

He said 21 other countries had specifically banned the creation of hybrid embryos.

‘In many ways we are like children playing with landmines without any concept of the dangers of the technology that we are handling. In terms of embryology research, we will almost be like a rogue state. The reason the public have been misled, cruelly in many cases, into thinking that this type of research could lead to early cures is because of exaggeration, misleading information or hyperbole.’

But Labour backbencher Chris Bryant said that opponents’ arguments were similar to those originally used by church leaders to oppose the smallpox vaccine. They argued that cows should not be used in medical research affecting humans.

MPs voted by 336 to 176, majority 160, against a ban on all hybrid embryos. The Commons then rejected an attempt to ban the use of so-called ‘true hybrids’, which would be 50 per cent human and 50 per cent animal. Voting was 286 to 223, majority 63.

The chief executive of the Medical Research Council, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, welcomed the result, saying it would keep the UK at the forefront of embryo research. ‘The public can have confidence in the tight regulations that govern embryo and stem cell research,’ he said.

As Parliament geared up for today’s historic abortion vote, campaigners wrote to all MPs urging them to take note of opinion polls suggesting that a majority of voters – particularly women – back a reduction of the time limit. MPs could face an unprecedented U.S.-style campaign designed to make their views on abortion a crucial issue at the next election.

A powerful alliance of pro-life and religious groups is planning to target individual MPs who refuse to back moves to reduce the legal time limit for terminations.

Today’s vote on abortion is the first in Parliament since 1990 and the first time many MPs have had to make a choice one way or another on the issue. Amendments have been tabled to the Bill seeking to bring the current 24-week deadline for abortion down to 20 or 22 weeks in the light of the latest scientific evidence.

Terminations would continue to be permitted right up to birth if an unborn child is thought to have a range of disabilities.

Pro-life MPs from all three main parties argue a reduction is necessary because medical advances mean premature babies born before 24 weeks now have a reasonable chance of surviving. They also want to introduce a five-day period of ‘informed consent’, during which women wanting a termination would be advised to reflect on their decision.

Pro-choice MPs, by contrast, are seeking to liberalise abortion laws with rival amendments. They would allow only one doctor to approve an abortion, rather than the two currently required.

Last night, the Alive and Kicking campaign group – an umbrella organisation which includes the Christian Medical Fellowship, Pro-Life Alliance, the Guild of Catholic Doctors, LIFE, the Evangelical Alliance, and the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship – wrote to MPs urging them to back a 20-week limit.

The group, which represents more than a million people, also gave them notice of a highly controversial campaign focusing on their views and voting records.

It has launched a website, http://www.aliveandkickingcampaign.org, to highlight how MPs vote today. This also details MPs’ Parliamentary-majorities to indicate where pro-life voters might be able to influence the result at the next election. ‘There are many marginal seats across the political divide and we will ensure that our membership’s votes count positively,’ the group told MPs.

The move will appal pro-choice campaigners, who will see it as little more than blackmail. But the alliance hopes that enough MPs who do not have strong views either way will be persuaded to skip today’s Commons vote.

With between 150 and 200 MPs expected to back a reduction in the law in a free vote, turnout will be a key factor in whether it can succeed.

Conservative leader David Cameron and most of his shadow ministers have indicated their support for the legal time limit for abortion to be reduced by up to a month.

Pressure has mounted on the Government to review the law amid concern at a rise in the number of terminations. There are now more than 200,000 abortions a year in England and Wales, up from 175,000 in 2002.

Insulting a uniformed soldier to be outlawed

British troops could be rembembered on a special Bank Holiday in a bid to improve how they are viewed by the public

Senior figures in the Armed Forces fear the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have harmed the Armed Forces’ reputation at home

Youngsters ‘with limited job prospects’ targeted for military careers.

Daily Mail | May 20, 2008

By Matthew Hickley

Discriminating against British servicemen and women wearing their uniform in public will become a criminal offence under Government proposals outlined yesterday.

Courts will impose tougher punishments on anyone who assaults or threatens a serviceman wearing the Queen’s uniform – targeting them will be an ‘aggravating factor’ in sentencing.

Other measures designed to boost recognition and respect for the forces include more homecoming parades for units returning from war and a drive to encourage thousands more school pupils to train as military cadets.

There will also be a new National Armed Forces and Veterans Day from June next year, although ministers have yet to decide if it will be a bank holiday.

All 175,000 servicemen and women will be encouraged to wear their uniforms in public to boost the visibility of our shrinking forces.

The plans follow a study into The National Recognition of our Armed Forces, carried out at Gordon Brown’s request by former Tory MP Quentin Davies. It comes amid growing concern over the lack of public understanding or support for the military after years of controversial wars abroad. Last year, the head of the Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, warned that a lack of public appreciation risked sapping the willingness of troops to serve in war zones.

The report cites examples of negative attitudes to troops in uniform, including an Army officer who was refused entry to Harrods when he arrived in uniform after a Remembrance Day ceremony.

Troops returning from Afghanistan have been told to change into civilian clothes before landing at Birmingham Airport.

In Peterborough, RAF personnel were banned from wearing uniform in the town after incidents of verbal abuse.

The report says this contrasts sharply with attitudes in the U.S. and Canada, ‘where members of the public greet returning troops warmly and appreciatively.’

It calls for legislation making it an offence for public services or private companies to discriminate against anyone in military uniform – putting such treatment on a legal par with racial or sexual discrimination.

Ainsworth said such cases were ‘totally and utterly unacceptable’.

The report also calls for a major expansion in cadet organisations. It says the social benefits of ‘team effort, purposeful endeavour and meeting physical challenges’ go far beyond military training, with cadets much less likely to commit crimes as teenagers or later in life.

The move will be controversial, however, particularly as young cadets receive weapons training.

Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, called for ‘a protocol’ to limit Defence Ministry involvement in schools. She said youngsters ‘with limited job prospects’ were being targeted for military careers.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Nick Harvey said: ‘Many of these proposals are good common sense and should be welcomed.

‘But we must never let pageantry obscure the hard facts about the way the Government treats our Armed Forces.

‘An Armed Forces Day will ring hollow for forces families who still have to put up with sub-standard housing.’

A DAY FOR HEROES

From next year a special day will be earmarked to recognise servicemen and women and veterans. It will be a focus for open days and special parades.

It is likely to be the last Saturday in June, unless ministers agree to a new bank holiday – in which case it would be the last Friday or Monday.

Troops in the parades will have another day off in lieu.

In addition, every unit or ship returning from combat will have a chance to stage a homecoming parade, with local authorities laying on a reception for troops and their families.

Such parades have become increasingly popular but the practice is patchy, often depending on individual officers or local councillors.

Medal ceremonies could also be held publicly, rather than inside camps.

CALL UP THE CADETS

Only 130,000 schoolchildren – one in 50 – are part of cadet groups, either in the Combined Cadet Force at school or the Sea Cadets, Army Cadet Force or Air Training Corps outside.

Just 260 of the 6,400 secondary schools have CCF units, almost all of them grammar or private schools. Ministers want to do ‘everything possible’ to encourage more comprehensives and city academies to join up.

Cadets receive adventure training, basic drill and weapons training and education about the armed forces, learning key skills such as teamwork and physical fitness.

Youngsters will also be taught about the role and work of the military as a compulsory part of the national curriculum.