Daily Archives: June 1, 2008

Tony Blair to devote life to uniting the world’s religions

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Mr Blair, here sharing a secret handshake with the Pope, has recently announced his conversion to Catholicism

BBC | May 29, 2008

Former prime minister Tony Blair has promised to “spend the rest of my life” uniting the world’s religions

He said faith could be a “civilising force in globalisation”, bringing people together to solve problems such as malaria and extreme poverty.

Mr Blair, who is now a peace envoy to the Middle East, told Time magazine that religious belief had given him “strength” while in power.

He is launching a “faith foundation” in New York on Friday.
Mr Blair, who recently converted to Catholicism, said: “Faith is part of our future, and faith and the values it brings with it are an essential part of making globalisation work.”

‘Fantastic thing’

His foundation will attempt to bring religions together to tackle global issues such as the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals, which range from eradicating extreme poverty to ensuring environmental sustainability.

One of its first priorities will be to fight the spread of malaria.
Mr Blair said: “If you got churches and mosques and those of the Jewish faith working together to provide the bed nets that are necessary to eliminate malaria, what a fantastic thing that would be.

“That would show faith in action, it would show the importance of cooperation between faiths, and it would show what faith can do for progress.”

He added that it was possible to “achieve a greater understanding between the different religious faiths, so that we make platforms for action by those faiths and deal with some of the biggest issues in the world”.

Mr Blair’s press secretary Alastair Campbell, when asked about his boss’s faith, once famously remarked that the government didn’t “do God”.

But Mr Blair, 55, has recently spoken out on the subject far more than during his 10 years in Downing Street.

Discussing decisions he made as prime minister, he told Time: “You don’t put a hotline up to God and get the answers.

“The worst thing in politics is when you’re so scared of losing support that you don’t do what you think is the right thing.

“What faith can do is not tell you what is right but give you the strength to do it.”

Mr Blair is not being paid for his work as a Middle East envoy for the “Quartet” of the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia.

But he has lucrative consultancy posts with insurer Zurich and merchant bank JP Morgan, on top of a reported £5m deal for his Downing Street memoirs.

Kids set for ‘Matrix’ future

“It’s a very short route from wireless technology to actually getting the electrical connections in your brain to absorb that knowledge”

– Chris Parry, Independent Schools Council

Mr Parry, a former Rear Admiral, spent three years determining the future strategic context for the military in a senior role at the Ministry of Defence.

ITN | May 30, 2008


Children will learn by downloading information directly into their brains within 30 years, an education expert has predicted.

Chris Parry, the new chief executive of the Independent Schools Council, said “Matrix-style” technology would render traditional lessons obsolete.


He said: “It’s a very short route from wireless technology to actually getting the electrical connections in your brain to absorb that knowledge.”
Mr Parry, a former Rear Admiral, spent three years determining the future strategic context for the military in a senior role at the Ministry of Defence.

He said the Keanu Reeves thriller may not look like science fiction in 30 years’ time.

“Within 30 years, sitting down and learning something will be a thing of the past,” Mr Parry said.

“I think people will be able to directly access, Matrix-style, all the vocabulary you need for a foreign language, leaving you just to clear up the grammar.”

Mr Parry is now preparing the ISC’s 1,300 private schools, which collectively teach half a million children, for a high-tech future.

Big Brother Cameras To Watch Passengers In Airplanes

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New Scientist | May 30, 2008

CCTV cameras are bringing more and more public places under surveillance – and passenger aircraft could be next.

A prototype European system uses multiple cameras and “Big Brother” software to try and automatically detect terrorists or other dangers caused by passengers.

The European Union’s Security of Aircraft in the Future European Environment (SAFEE) project uses a camera in every passenger’s seat, with six wide-angle cameras to survey the aisles. Software then analyses the footage to detect developing terrorist activity or “air-rage” incidents, by tracking passengers’ facial expressions.

The system performed well in tests this January that simulated terrorist and unruly passenger behaviour scenarios in a fake Airbus A380 fuselage, say the researchers that built it.

Systems to analyse CCTV footage – for example, to detect violence (with video) or alert CCTV operators to unusual events – have been designed before. But the SAFEE software must cope with the particularly challenging environment of a full aircraft cabin.

Threat indicators

As crew and passengers move around they often obscure one another, causing a risk the computer will lose track of some of the hundreds of people it must monitor. To get around this, the software constantly matches views of people from different cameras to track their movements.

“It looks for running in the cabin, standing near the cockpit for long periods of time, and other predetermined indicators that suggest a developing threat,” says James Ferryman of the University of Reading, UK, one of the system’s developers.

Other behaviours could include a person nervously touching their face, or sweating excessively. One such behaviour won’t trigger the system to alert the crew, only certain combinations of them.

Ferryman is not ready to reveal specifically which behaviours were most likely to trigger the system. Much of the computer’s ability to detect threats relies on sensitive information gleaned from security analysts in the intelligence community, he tells New Scientist.

Losing track

But Mohan Trivedi of the University of California, San Diego, US, is sceptical. He has built systems that he says can track and recognise individual people as they appear and disappear on different floors of his laboratory building.

It correctly identifies people about 70% of the time, and then only under “optimal conditions” that do not exist inside an airplane cabin, he says.

“[Ferryman’s] research shows that a system detects threats in a very limited way. But it’s a very different thing using it day in and day out.” Trivedi says. “Lighting and reflections change in the cabin every time someone turns on a light or closes a window shade. They haven’t shown that they have overcome these challenges.”

Ferryman admits that his system will require thousands of tests on everyday passengers before it can be declared reliable at detecting threats.

The team’s work is being presented this week at the International Conference on Computer Vision Systems in Greece.

Cameras to monitor airline passengers’ facial expressions and suspicious movements

Airport profilers: They’re watching your expressions

“Worst Vaccine Bill Ever” Seeks Compulsory Shots For All Children

Infowars.net | May 30, 2008

BY Steve Watson

A pending New York State Assembly Bill dubbed, the “worst vaccine bill ever” by one activist group, would see all vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made mandatory for all children, including infants and toddlers.

Assembly Bill 10942, introduced at the request of Richard Daines, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, calls for changes to the law in order to make recommended inoculation compulsory in order for children to attend school.

The bill would also permit the administration of vaccines for sexually transmitted infections to minors without parental consent.

Separate sections of the bill would come into effect next year with others becoming law in 2010.

A-CHAMP, a national, non-partisan political action organization formed by parents in support of children with neurodevelopmental and communication disorders, has called for rejection of the bill and is demanding the passage of A5468/S3031, a bill that would give individuals a right to a philosophical exemption from vaccine mandates.

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