Daily Archives: November 29, 2008

Mumbai terror witness says attackers were “foreign looking, fair skinned”

BBC | Nov 27, 2008

By Soutik Biswas

Mumbai – Pappu Mishra was tending to his customers at his glass-walled cafe at the gothic Victorian Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station in Mumbai when he spotted two sprightly young men dressed in black.

He remembers the two sauntering into the waiting hall, plonking their handbags on the floor, taking out a gun “which looked like an AK-47”, and walking toward the platforms where they gunned down late-evening commuters on the city’s busy suburban train network.

“Their audaciousness was breath-taking,” he says.

“One man loaded the magazine into the gun, the other kept shooting. They appeared calm and composed. They were not in the slightest hurry. They didn’t seem to be afraid at all.”

The men entered a platform and shot a man near an automated teller machine.

Then they turned around and shot another commuter at the grubby, dark-tiled drinking water station around the corner.

Then, the “foreign looking, fair skinned” men, as Mr Mishra remembers them, simply carried on killing.

Outside the station, shipping firm executive Anil Kumar Goswami was sitting in a tea shop. He saw flashes of gunfire through the rusty ornamental iron and brass railings and wood carved windows.

He walked towards one of the gates to find out what was happening.

“As I entered the station, a shot rang out and I ducked. I lay on the floor and watched a horror film unfold,” he says.

“I saw a man falling to gunfire. I saw one of the shooters walking across the platform. It was a festival of dead bodies.”

Killing zone

Back at the station cafe, Mr Mishra ordered all customers to lie down on the floor even as a crescendo of gunfire rattled the building.

The shooters swung the gun around once. Bullets pierced the cafe’s glass walls, hitting one of his employees. He is now on a life support machine.

“It was the longest 10-15 minutes of my life,” Mr Mishra said. “They fired at least three rounds without any resistance. I had no clue why they were doing this.”

Bags lay scattered at Chattrapati Shivaji station after the attack

In that short time, the two men turned one of India’s most historic railroad stations into a killing zone.

“Bodies with gaping bullet wounds lay all over, and the waiting hall became a sea of blood,” says Mr Mishra.

At least 10 people died at the station, also known as Victoria Terminus, on what newspapers described as Mumbai’s “darkest night”.

Officials say that of the more than 100 people who died in Wednesday’s attacks by a group of unidentified gunmen, the majority of the dead were commuters waiting to get on to trains at the station.

The police arrived half an hour after it was all over and the men had vanished into a balmy Mumbai evening.

“The system is loose, the security is hollow. They killed as they wished, and there were no policemen around,” Mr Mishra says.

Cafe attack

Not far across town, Judith Rosta, a German teacher from Vienna, had completed a shoot for a music video for two Indian singers and was walking past the market at Colaba, the hip, touristy hub of posh south Mumbai, with her Russian girlfriend, Valentina.

She says she was buying papayas when she noticed three men on a motorcycle stopping on the road and taking out “big guns”.

“They wore white jeans and T-shirts. They were shouting, getting agitated and waved their guns around.

“I dropped my shopping and began walking away towards my hotel. Minutes later, a friend called up saying that there had been a bloody incident of firing in the area,” she says.

Leopold Cafe owner Farzed Jehani: ‘A grenade was thrown in to the restaurant’

Hours after the shooting at the Leopold Cafe, a cult city cafe and a favourite hangout of foreigners and locals alike, the place smelt of stale beer and bleaching powder.

Broken crockery from a market stall lay strewn on the sidewalk. Fresh blood stains on the bullet-pocked wall were mixed with the old betel- leaf spit stains.

Locals say the orgy of killings in Mumbai began here. Three men walked into the cafe, drank beer, settled their bills and walked out. Then they fished out guns from their bags and began firing.

Gaffar Abdul Amir, an Iraqi tourist from Baghdad, says he saw at least two men who started the firing outside the Leopold Cafe.

He was returning to his hotel from the seaside with a friend when he saw two men carrying bags and brandishing AK-47s walking in front of them, shooting.

“They did not look Indian, they looked foreign. One of them, I thought, had blonde hair. The other had a punkish hairstyle. They were neatly dressed,” says Mr Amir.

As the two girls fell near the cafe, he saw the two men quickening their steps towards the Taj Mahal hotel further up the road.

A few minutes later, gunfire was heard from the hotel, and much later, Mr Amir heard that gunmen had taken guests hostage.

Missing relatives

Sixteen hours after the attacks, people are still waiting for their relatives to come out of the hotel.

Vishram Tulsiram Nagde spent all of Thursday near the hotel trying to find out whether his brother and uncle, who worked in the hotel, were trapped inside.

His brother works in the housekeeping department, and his uncle is a cook in the hotel. They did not return home after they finished work on Wednesday night.

“I am very worried. We have no clue where they are. The police is not telling us anything. And we cannot get in touch with the hotel,” he says.

All around, shops are shuttered and offices are closed. There is little traffic on the roads. Throngs of curious people move around talking about the attacks.

VS Naipaul once famously said: “Mumbai is a crowd”. A day after the attacks, Mumbai was barely crawling.

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FDA sets “safe” levels for toxic melamine in baby formula

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Worries over melamine in infant formula started in China and have spread to the United States.

CNN | Nov 28, 2008

By Miriam Falco

(CNN) — After first saying that they could not determine a threshold for the safe amount of certain toxic chemicals in infant formula, Food and Drug Administration officials said Friday that trace amounts are safe.

“Amounts of the industrial chemical melamine or the melamine-like compound called cyanuric acid that are below 1.0 ppm [1,000 parts per billion] do not raise public health concerns,” said Stephen Sundlof, the FDA’s director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

When it became known in September that thousands of babies in China had been sickened by tainted infant formula, the FDA ordered the testing of U.S.-manufactured infant-formula products.

Sundlof said Friday that results from 74 of 87 samples of infant formula and other products babies and young children had been completed. The results of the other 13 are pending.

That total differed slightly from the one the FDA offered Thursday, when its acting commissioner of public affairs, Judy Leon, told CNN that 77 sample results had been completed and just 10 were outstanding.

Among the 74 final test results discussed Friday, the FDA said, two samples of Nestle’s Good Start Supreme Infant Formula with Iron tested positive for melamine at levels of 137 and 140 parts per billion, well below the level of concern cited by Sundlof.

In addition, three samples of Mead Johnson’s infant powder, Enfamil LIPIL with Iron, tested positive for cyanuric acid at an average of 247 parts per billion, also well below the FDA trace level.

The FDA’s October 3 risk assessment of melamine and its analogues concluded that “levels of melamine and its analogues below 2.5 ppm in foods other than infant formula do not raise public health concerns.”

But the agency said then that it did not have enough data to determine a safe level of melamine and its analogues in infant formula.

On Friday, an FDA official said it was still not possible to determine a safe level for infant formula containing both melamine and cyanuric acid compounds, but officials “believe that at very low levels there should not be any health concerns.”

Sundlof said the trace levels of melamine or related compounds detected in the samples are 10,000-fold less than the amount associated with Chinese infant-formula contamination.

According to the World Health Organization, contaminated infant formula in China has killed four babies and caused more than 47,000 infants and children to be hospitalized with possible kidney stones.

Chinese-made infant formula is not available in the United States, because no Chinese manufacturer meets the requirements to sell infant formula in this country, according to the FDA.

It was also the combination of melamine and cyanuric acid in pet food that caused thousands of dogs and cats to be sickened last year in the United States.
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The combination caused crystals to form in the animals’ kidneys.

According to the FDA’s updated Interim Safety Assessment, infants are more vulnerable to the combination than are older children or adults because formula could be the infants’ sole source of nutrition. In addition, their kidneys may not have developed sufficiently to ward off the impact of the chemicals.

Global cold snap fails to cool protagonists of global warming

The Australian | Nov 29, 2008

By John Stapleton

EUROPE is shivering through an extreme cold snap. One of the coldest winters in the US in more than 100 years is toppling meteorological records by the dozen, and the Arctic ice is expanding. Even Australia has been experiencing unseasonable snow.

But the stories about global warming have not stopped, not for a second.

In May last year, The Sydney Morning Herald breathlessly reported that climate change had reduced the Southern Ocean’s ability to soak up carbon dioxide, claiming that as a result global warming would accelerate even faster than previously thought.

The story was picked up and repeated in a number of different journals around the region.

But this week the CSIRO suggested the exact opposite. “The new study suggests that Southern Ocean currents, and therefore the Southern Ocean’s ability to soak up carbon dioxide, have not changed in recent decades,” it said. This time the story got no coverage in the SMH, and was run on the ABC’s website as evidence the Southern Ocean was adapting to climate change.

CSIRO oceanographer Stuart Rintoul, a co-author of the study, said it did not disprove global warming and he did not believe its lack of an alarmist tone was responsible for the poor coverage.

But the story is being pointed out as an example of media bias on global warming. Critics argue that the ABC and the Fairfax media are the worst offenders.

ABC board member Keith Windschuttle said yesterday the national broadcaster was in breach of its charter to provide a diversity of views. “The ABC and the Fairfax press rarely provide an opportunity for global warming sceptics to put their view,” Mr Windschuttle said. “The science is not settled.

“We are seeing an increasing number of people with impeccable scientific backgrounds questioning part or whole of the story. I don’t believe the ABC has been reflecting the genuine diversity of the debate. Under its own act, the ABC is required to produce a diversity of views.”

Bob Carter of James Cook University, one of the world’s best-known climate change sceptics, said there was no doubt Windschuttle was correct.

“With very few exceptions, press reporters commenting on global warming are either ignorant of the science matters involved, or wilfully determined to propagate warming hysteria because that fits their personal world view, or are under editorial direction to focus the story around the alarmist headline grab — and often all three,” Professor Carter said.

National Climate Centre former head William Kininmonth said coverage of global warming had been hysterical and was getting worse, with a large public relations effort inundating the media with information from the alarmist side.

FDA Hid Names of Melamine Contaminated Infant Formula Products from the Public

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Natural News | Nov 27, 2008

by Mike Adams

When the FDA discovered melamine in U.S. infant formula products, it made a conscious decision to withhold that information from the public. Instead, it called a teleconference with the infant formula manufacturers to warn them about its findings!

The truth about the melamine only became public after the Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information Act request, demanding the test results from the FDA. Absent that request, this whole issue would have continued to remain an FDA secret.

In the aftermath of that decision, the FDA is now under intense fire for once again betraying the public trust and acting to protect the interests of corporations rather than the people. Congress, public health groups and consumer advocate (like me) are blasting the FDA for utterly disregarding public safety and catering (once again) to the financial interests of the companies it regulates.

The FDA, of course, claims that low levels of melamine are perfectly safe for babies to consume in unlimited quantity. Sure they are! And Bisphenol-A is safe, too. So is aspartame, sodium nitrite, sucralose, MSG and every other food ingredient poison you can think of. According to the FDA, they’re all safe for babies to eat or drink in virtually unlimited quantities.

Needless to say, the FDA has become the laughing stock of all intelligent observers. It’s not hard to figure out that the FDA has sold out to Big Business and betrayed the people, thrusting defenseless babies directly into the line of fire of dangerous chemicals and toxic additives.

Yet the FDA still conspires to hide the truth about these dangers from the public.

Truth be told, it is the FDA that has become the real danger to the public. This agency is a complete failure. Its leaders should resign in disgrace… or, more accurately, they should be arrested and prosecuted for their roles in a deadly conspiracy involving food and drug companies that sought to boost business profits at the expense of human lives.

This is all about much more than mere melamine, of course. If the FDA would consciously hide the truth about melamine from the public it was supposed to serve, then what else might it hide in the future? (What has it been hiding already?)

The bottom line is that the FDA cannot be trusted, and rather than ruling by trusted authority, it rules by intimidation and oppression, even with its own scientists

Think about it: If the FDA doesn’t care enough about the safety of your babies to disclose the truth about melamine, what makes you think the FDA will give a damn about anything else that might threaten the health and safety of Americans?

The FDA exists for only one purpose: To protect the profits of powerful food and drug companies. Babies be damned.

Related

FDA Draws Fire Over Chemicals In Baby Formula

Kids have become pint-sized Eco-Nazis

They moan about lights, whine if you don’t recycle and nag you for using the car… Our kids have become pint-sized Eco-Nazis.

After coating Britain in CCTV cameras, the Government is nurturing a battalion of child spies, an army of ethically minded Veruca Salts, to harry and hector the badly behaved adults of 21st-century Britain.

Daily Mail | Nov 27, 2008

By Brendan O’Neill

child_eco-nazi_spiesWhen I was a child, ‘pester power’ meant stamping one’s feet in a shop. It involved little more than begging one’s mum in an irritating voice for the latest He-Man figure or for one of those unusually thick pink milkshakes from a place called McDonald’s.

It was a feeble force, this alleged power of the pest, easily quashed by a clip around the lughole or by that most ominous threat issued by mums-in-distress: ‘Just you wait until your dad gets home.’

How times have changed. Today, ‘pester power’ is a powerful political tool.

New Labour is explicitly recruiting children to its climate change and respect agendas – its illiberal, conformist, thought-policing programmes of ‘good behaviour’ promotion – in the hope that they might, ‘use their pester power in a positive way: reminding grown-ups how to behave’.

After coating Britain in CCTV cameras, the Government is nurturing a battalion of child spies, an army of ethically minded Veruca Salts, to harry and hector the badly behaved adults of 21st-century Britain.

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported the emergence in New York of ‘pint-size eco-police’ – ‘environmentally conscious children’ who ‘pour scorn’ on their parents for everything from leaving the lights on to failing to sort their egg boxes from their bottle tops when recycling the weekly rubbish. Experts refer to them as an ‘army of eco-kids’ who have been ‘steeped in environmentalism at school, in houses of worship, through scouting and even via popular culture’.

This is no American curiosity. Here, too, children are actively encouraged, by the authorities and by popular culture, to monitor their parents’ environmental behaviour. Eco-Schools, a governmentfunded scheme active in 5,500 schools around the UK, calls on teachers to integrate environmentalism into the curriculum as a way of empowering children to police their parents. Andrew Suter, head of the scheme, says it allows kids to ‘tell their parents what to do for a change’.

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Fascist Ecology: The “Green Wing” of the Nazi Party and its Historical Antecedents

Cue thousands of ethically empowered pests nagging their folks about how often they use the washing machine or what kind of petrol they put in the car.

Parents aren’t happy. At a school in Worcestershire one mum complained: ‘Can you please tell my daughter that we are allowed to have some lights on – she’s got us sitting in the dark like mushrooms.’

Michael, a dad- of-two in North London, tells me his daughter recently came home from school with an ‘eco check-list’ to find out how green their home is. ‘I used to help her with her homework. Now her homework is about helping me to be a better person!’ he fulminates.

Politicising pester power is all the rage in green-leaning education circles. David Uzzell, a professor of environmental psychology at the University of Surrey, reports attending an educational conference a couple of years ago where ‘everyone was absolutely convinced. . . that “pester power” was the answer [to the problem of climate change]’.

A 2006 report by the Department of Trade and Industry said environmental energy efficiency should be made into ‘an integral part of [a child’s] mindset’ so that he or she can help to ‘shape attitudes in the wider community’ and bring about ‘the desired cultural shift’.

The illiberal, one might even say Maoist, bent to this campaign to turn children into eco-cops is made clear in the book How To Turn Your Parents Green by James Russell, published last year.

It encourages children to ‘nag, pester, bug, torment and punish the people who are merrily wrecking our world’ – that is, grown-ups, or ‘groans’, who spend their time ‘slumped in front of the TV’ or ‘salivating over a holiday brochure’ and who poison the world with ‘Revolting rubbish, fiendish fertilisers and pestilential pesticides’.

Russell says children should ‘channel their pester power’, ‘gripe’ for organic carrots, and issue fines against their parents and other ‘ transgressors’ of the environmentalist code. Children should be the ‘guardians of the glorious green future’, pestering groans until they sign up to a green charter.

Bullying and bugging the ‘transgressors’ of eco-orthodoxy . . . children as the heralds of a glorious green future . . . harnessing children’s pester power to bring about the Government’s desired cultural shift in eco-attitudes – I can’t be the only person who is freaked out by this ominous language.

How long before children carry around little green books and snitch on their parents to a glorious green council if they book a cheap flight or eat an apple imported from Kenya?

When children are not snooping for ‘climate crimes’ in the home, as James Russell describes it, they have been co-opted into spying on adults on the streets. In April last year, the Government’s Respect Task Force launched a competition in schools to find children to provide ‘the voice’ for the first talking CCTV cameras – cameras that not only watch us, but tell us off, too.

In 20 towns and cities, children at schools were asked to design posters that challenged antisocial behaviour. The winning designers were invited to sit in their local CCTV control rooms on the day that the truly Orwellian ‘talking cams’ were unveiled, from where they admonished citizens for littering, loitering, drinking and so on.

The Respect Task Force said this was about getting kids to ‘use their pester power in a positive way, reminding grown-ups how to behave’.

Last month, it was reported that councils around the country are recruiting young people as ‘junior streetwatchers’ to spy on, and even photograph and video, people who commit dog-fouling, littering or bin crimes (i.e. putting the wrong rubbish in the wrong bins, or allowing it to spill on to the street).

Some councils refer to these juniors as ‘covert human intelligence sources’ and have even give them James Bond- style code names. Ealing Council in West London admitted that ‘hundreds of junior streetwatchers, aged eight to ten, [have been] trained to identify and report enviro-crime issues such as graffiti and fly-tipping’.

Harlow Council in Essex said it has 25 ‘street-scene champions’, all aged between 11 and 14, who are encouraged to email or telephone the council if they suspect that an enviro-crime – ranging from vandalism of bus shelters to large-scale littering – has been committed. It is the mark of a truly authoritarian regime to recruit children to nag out-of-tune parents or to spy on disobedient citizens.

A writer for the Guardian celebrates eco-pester power on the basis that children make ‘natural campaigners – no shades of grey, no nuanced arguments, just loads of passion and clarity’. Yes, and that is also why ruthless governments, from the Soviets to Maoists, cultivated zealous little police-kids: because childish minds are easily moulded to accept political orthodoxies.

In George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, it was ‘almost normal for people over 30 to be frightened of their own children’ because they were ‘ungovernable little savages’ who spied for the Party.

Before we become scared of our kids, too – as they patrol our homes, speak to us from CCTV cameras or squeal on us to councils – I suggest dealing with this politicised pester power in the same way my mum dealt with my childish demands: by administering a collective clip around the lughole to the child spies.

Mumbai gunmen were British and “came from same area as 7/7 bombers”

mumbai_gunmen

Two baby-faced gunman brandishing automatic weapons and below, the scene of carnage they left behind at the main train station

Related

British-born Pakistanis among arrested militants

Daily Mail | Nov 28, 2008

Massacre in Mumbai: Up to SEVEN gunmen were British and ‘came from same area as 7/7 bombers’

By Justin Davenport , Rashid Razaq and Nicola Boden

British-born Pakistanis were among the Mumbai terrorists, Indian government sources claimed today, as the death toll rose to at least 155.

As many as seven of the terrorists may have British connections and some could be from Leeds and Bradford where London’s July 7 bombers lived, one source said.

Two Britons were among eight gunmen being held, according to Mumbai’s chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. At least nine others are reportedly dead.

The eight arrested were captured by commandos after they stormed two hotels and a Jewish centre to free hostages today. Despite the Indian authorities’ assurances that the situation was under control, the siege continued at the Taj Mahal hotel and explosions could still be heard in central Mumbai.

One security official said: ‘There is growing concern about British involvement in the attacks.’

But Gordon Brown has urged caution. He emerged from a conversation with India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to say there was no suggestion of a British link.

‘At no point has the prime minister of India suggested to me that there is evidence at this stage of any terrorist of British origins, but obviously these are huge investigations that are being done and I think it will be premature to draw any conclusions at all,’ Mr Brown said.

Senior Whitehall sources said it was too early to say whether there had been any involvement by British nationals but that security services, working with overseas partners, would be looking at any potential links to the UK.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith also said UK authorities had “no knowledge” of any British links with the massacre, while Foreign Secretary David Miliband said it was “too early to say” whether any of the terrorists were British.

As authorities tried to piece together the identities and motivations of the attackers, special forces were still battling with gunmen.

At the five-star Taj Mahal Hotel, officers were still locked in combat with up to six militants believed to be holed up in the ballroom.

The Indian authorities thought they had ended the siege there last night after they shot dead three terrorists and released hundreds of hostages, but it raged again today.

In a major army operation, soldiers threw grenades at the walls in a bid to smoke out the militants. Four bystanders were reported wounded in the crossfire.

Mumbai officials say more than 155 people in total have now died in the attacks. Another 370 were wounded.

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