Daily Archives: December 6, 2008

Pakistani Security Consultant Calls Mumbai Attacks A “Botched” False Flag

Says Hindu zionists and Mossad behind attacks meant to imitate 9/11

Infowars.net | Dec 3, 2008

By Steve Watson

A renowned Pakistani strategic defence analyst has described last week’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai as a “botched” false flag operation designed to imitate the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

Zaid Hamid, a security consultant who routinely appears on Pakistani television, told reporters of the News One channel that the attacks were state sponsored by Indian military intelligence and carried out by Hindu zionists aided by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.

Hamid contends that the motive is to shift attention away from India’s domestic terrorists, and to justify Western intervention in Pakistan.

“They look like Hindus. No Pakistani speaks the language they chatted in,” said Hamid , claiming that the attackers wore saffron Hindu Zionist wrist bands.

“The Americans executed the 9/11 attack perfectly.” Hamid continued. “They managed the media very well. The Indians tried to repeat the formula but goofed up. The idiots made a complete mess of it,” he argued.

Video of Hamid’s comments have been uploaded to youtube.

Hamid, who also hosts his own “Brasstacks” show on the News One channel, has long asserted that the U.S. wishes to eliminate Pakistan’s nuclear facilities which are seen as a direct threat to Israel’s sovereignty.

Hamid also told viewers that during the first five minutes of the attack, three Indian counterterrorist officers were killed by authorities in order to halt their investigations of a terror network within India’s security agencies.

One of those men was India’s top antiterrorist officer Hemant Karkare, who was shot three times in the chest as he led his men at the Taj Mahal Palace.

Karkare was on the verge of uncovering the home-grown terror franchise of the Hindu extremists. He had also received death threats just hours before the attacks.

Karkare was investigating a bomb attack that killed at least six people near a mosque in the western city of Malegaon on September 29. In early November his Anti-Terror Squad arrested senior Military Intelligence officer Colonel Srikant Prasad Purohit on suspicion of involvement in the attack which was carried out by Hindu extremists.

Colonel Purohit was also under investigation for the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings, which killed 68 people, mostly Pakistanis. Investigations into this will now likely be halted.

Analysts claim that the Mumbai bombings represent a desperate move on behalf of separatists within the Indian establishment who want to shift the country away from independence and into the new world order model.

Ancient Peruvian city discovered in Amazon rainforest linked to legendary white-skinned, blond-haired “Cloud People”


An ancient Chachapoyas village located close to the area where the lost city was found

Ancient city discovered deep in Amazonian rainforest linked to the legendary white-skinned Cloud People of Peru

Daily Mail | Dec 4, 2008

A lost city discovered deep in the Amazon rainforest could unlock the secrets of a legendary tribe.

Little is known about the Cloud People of Peru, an ancient, white-skinned civilisation wiped out by disease and war in the 16th century.

But now archaeologists have uncovered a fortified citadel in a remote mountainous area of Peru known for its isolated natural beauty.

It is thought this settlement may finally help historians unlock the secrets of the ‘white warriors of the clouds’.

The tribe had white skin and blonde hair – features which intrigue historians, as there is no known European ancestry in the region, where most inhabitants are darker skinned.

The citadel is tucked away in one of the most far-flung areas of the Amazon. It sits at the edge of a chasm which the tribe may have used as a lookout to spy on enemies.


The Chachapoyas, also called the Warriors of the Clouds, were an Andean people living in the cloud forests of the Amazonian region of present-day Peru.

The main encampment is made up of circular stone houses overgrown by jungle over 12 acres, according to archaeologist Benedict Goicochea Perez.

Rock paintings cover some of the fortifications and next to the dwellings are platforms believed to have been used to grind seeds and plants for food and medicine.

The Cloud People once commanded a vast kingdom stretching across the Andes to the fringes of Peru’s northern Amazon jungle, before it was conquered by the Incas.

Named because they lived in rainforests filled with cloud-like mist, the tribe later sided with the Spanish-colonialists to defeat the Incas.

But they were killed by epidemics of European diseases, such as measles and smallpox.

Much of their way of life, dating back to the ninth century, was also destroyed by pillaging, leaving little for archaeologists to examine.

Remains have been found before but scientists have high hopes of the latest find, made by an expedition to the Jamalca district in Peru’s Utcubamba province, about 500 miles north-east of the capital, Lima.

Until recently, much of what was known about the lost civilisation was from Inca legends.

Even the name they called themselves is unknown. The term Chachapoyas, or ‘Cloud People’, was given to them by the Incas.

Their culture is best known for the Kuellap fortress on the top of a mountain in Utcubamba, which can only be compared in scale to the Incas’ Machu Picchu retreat, built hundreds of years later.

Two years ago, archaeologists found an underground burial vault inside a cave with five mummies, two intact with skin and hair.

Chachapoyas chronicler Pedro Cieza de Leon wrote of the tribe: ‘They are the whitest and most handsome of all the people that I have seen, and their wives were so beautiful that because of their gentleness, many of them deserved to be the Incas’ wives and to also be taken to the Sun Temple.

‘The women and their husbands always dressed in woollen clothes and in their heads they wear their llautos [a woollen turban], which are a sign they wear to be known everywhere.’

The Chachapoyas’ territory was located in the northern regions of the Andes in present-day Peru.

It encompassed the triangular region formed by the confluence of the Maranon and Utcubamba rivers, in the zone of Bagua, up to the basin of the Abiseo river.

The Maranon’s size and the mountainous terrain meant the region was relatively isolated.

Menezes killing judge: Jury not allowed to present guilty verdict


Jean Charles De Menezes coroner rules out unlawful killing verdict

The Times | Dec 3, 2008

by Sean O’Neill

The jury hearing the inquest of Jean Charles de Menezes were barred from finding that he was illegally killed by the Metropolitan Police, in a surprise order that prompted members of his family to walk out of court.

Sir Michael Wright, QC, ruled yesterday that jurors would not be allowed to consider a verdict of unlawful killing. In the closing stages of the 11-week inquest, which has involved 100 witnesses and is estimated to have cost £3 million, Sir Michael said that the evidence did not justify such a conclusion.


Menezes operation commander praised

Mr de Menezes, 27, an electrician, was shot seven times in the head by armed police who mistook him for a suicide bomber on a London Underground train in July 2005.

The coroner said that no individual – not the firearms officers who shot Mr de Menezes, nor their Scotland Yard commanders – could be held liable in criminal or civil law for his death.

Sir Michael, a retired High Court judge, told the eleven jurors that they could only consider two outcomes: either that Mr de Menezes was lawfully killed or an open verdict.

Referring to Mr de Menezes’s mother, Maria Otone de Menezes, who sat through most of the inquest, he said: “I know that your heart will go out to her. But these are emotional reactions, ladies and gentlemen, and you are charged with returning a verdict based on evidence. Put aside any emotions – put them to one side.”

The inquest, held in the John Major Room at the Oval cricket ground in South London, has heard conflicting and controversial evidence.

Jurors were told that police surveillance officers, given the task of finding one of the four bombers who tried to detonate suicide devices in London on July 21 2005, were sent out the following morning without a picture of the man they were looking for. Although Mr de Menezes was never positively identified as the terrorist suspect, specialist firearms officers ran on to a Tube train at Stockwell and shot him dead.

One of the armed officers, “Charlie 12”, claimed that he had shouted “armed police” and opened fire only after Mr de Menezes had stood up and advanced towards him. None of the passengers on the carriage recalled hearing a warning shouted or seeing Mr de Menezes stand up before he was held down in his seat and shot. One woman said that she thought that the police officers were “out of control”.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, the Gold Commander on the operation, said in her evidence that no officer had done anything wrong or unreasonable.

Sir Michael said that his decision to disallow an unlawful killing verdict was a reflection that the evidence did not point to any individual being responsible for the death. He said: “All interested persons agree that a verdict of unlawful killing could only be left to you if you could be sure that a specific officer had committed a very serious crime – murder or manslaughter.”

Sir Michael warned jurors that they must not attach criminal or civil fault to any individuals. But the jury were not barred from concluding that the police had made mistakes. He added: “In directing you that you cannot return a verdict of unlawful killing, I am not saying that nothing went wrong on a police operation which resulted in the killing of an innocent man.”

Last year, an Old Bailey jury found the Met guilty of breaches of health and safety law in the operation. The force was fined £175,000.

Sir Michael said that he wanted the jury to consider whether the officer had shouted a warning before opening fire, whether there had been communication failures between Scotland Yard and officers on the ground and why Mr de Menezes was not stopped before boarding public transport.

The coroner continues his summing-up today.

Blackwater gunmen could face 30 years each


US mulls unusual tactic as Blackwater charges loom

AP | Dec 5, 2008


WASHINGTON (AP) — Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in the deadly 2007 Baghdad shooting of Iraqi civilians could face mandatory 30-year prison sentences under an aggressive anti-drug law being considered as the Justice Department readies indictments, people close to the case said.

Charges could be announced as early as Monday for the shooting, which left 13 civilians dead and strained U.S. relations with the fledgling Iraqi government. Prosecutors have been reviewing a draft indictment and considering manslaughter and assault charges for weeks. A team of prosecutors returned to the grand jury room Thursday and called no witnesses.

Though drugs were not involved in the Blackwater shooting, the Justice Department is pondering the use of a law, passed at the height of the nation’s crack epidemic, to prosecute the guards. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 law calls for 30-year prison terms for using machine guns to commit violent crimes of any kind, whether drug-related or not.

The people who discussed the case did so on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose matters that are not yet public.

A Blackwater spokeswoman had no immediate comment. The company itself is not a target in the case.

Blackwater, the largest security contractor in Iraq, was thrust into the national spotlight after the September 2007 shooting. Its guards, all decorated military veterans hired to protect U.S. diplomats overseas, were responding to a car bombing when a shooting erupted in a crowded intersection.

Blackwater insists its convoy was ambushed by insurgents. Witnesses said the guards were unprovoked. When the shooting subsided, Nisoor Square was littered with dead bodies and blown-out cars. Weeks later, amid a growing furor over the shooting, the Justice Department dispatched FBI agents to Iraq to investigate.

Prosecutors questioned dozens of witnesses in the case, including the father of a young boy killed in the shooting. The investigation has focused on between three and six guards who could face charges.

The 30-year minimum sentence was passed as part of a broad law passed in the final days of the Reagan administration. It created the position of drug czar and boosted penalties for violence and drug crimes.

“Our ultimate destination: a drug-free America,” President Reagan said in signing the law. “And now in the eleventh hour of this presidency, we give a new sword and shield to those whose daily business it is to eliminate from America’s streets and towns the scourge of illicit drugs.”

Regardless of the charges they bring, prosecutors will have a tough fight. The law is unclear on whether contractors can be charged in the U.S., or anywhere, for crimes committed overseas. An indictment would send the message that the Justice Department believes contractors do not operate with legal impunity in war zones.

To prosecute, authorities must argue that the guards can be charged under a law meant to cover soldiers and military contractors. Since Blackwater works for the State Department, not the military, it’s unclear whether that law applies to its guards.

It would be the first such case of its kind. The Justice Department recently lost a similar case against former Marine Jose Luis Nazario Jr., who was charged in Riverside, Calif., with killing four unarmed Iraqi detainees.

Further complicating the case, the State Department promised several Blackwater guards limited immunity in exchange for their sworn statements shortly after the shooting. Prosecutors will need to show that they did not rely on those statements in building their case.

The FBI hero who joined the Mafia

New England Mob

John Connolly in court in Miami accused of the murder of John Callahan

He was an FBI hero who infiltrated the heart of the Mafia. Then John Connolly changed sides. Now he faces 33 years in jail for colluding with America’s most wanted gangster.

Independent | Dec 6, 2008

By Leonard Doyle in Washington

Sitting in an unmarked sedan car in South Boston, John Connolly had his binoculars trained on a scene just a block away. It was a gruesome spectacle: a man who had just delivered guns and ammunition to the IRA by ship, was being tortured to death by Boston’s most notorious gangster on suspicion of being a snitch for the FBI.

As the murder was playing out, it is alleged Connolly, a leading FBI agent, communicated by walkie-talkie with the torturer, James “Whitey” Bulger, as he first pulled out the victim’s tongue and teeth and then tried to strangle the gun-runner, John McIntyre, with a ship’s rope.

The FBI man’s complicity in this particular murder has never been proved but his betrayal of his badge – proved in two other cases – is one of the most shameful episodes in the agency’s history. The macabre incident, worthy of a scene fromThe Sopranos, has nonetheless drawn attention to an extraordinary double standard in which the FBI allowed a notorious Irish-American gang to commit murder and mayhem in Boston for more than a decade, in return for information that would eventually break the back of the Mafia.

Connolly’s career would eventually inspire Martin Scorsese’s 2006 movie, The Departed, in which the loyalties of an undercover agent become hopelessly compromised. The movie, like his career, is set in south Boston where the federal law enforcement agency is waging war on Irish-American organised crime. Connolly’s character is played by Matt Damon.

The long arm of the law has finally caught up with Connolly, now aged 68. He was convicted last month of a 1982 murder and has been called to court for sentencing. A decision is likely within weeks. In dramatic courtroom scenes this week, he angrily shouted out his innocence. His many supporters maintain that the FBI is at fault for encouraging him to turn a blind eye to crimes throughout the 1980s.

Nobody knows quite when Connolly decided on his betrayal but it is assumed to have been in the 1970s and bribes had a lot to do with it. As a decorated FBI man, Connolly certainly had access to the most classified information. He learned that the IRA gun runner John McIntyre intended to testify against his fellow gun runners. So, it is alleged, Connolly passed the information on to “Whitey” Bulger, the infamous head of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang who was behind the IRA arms shipment.

McIntyre and a friend were lured to a safe house where the gruesome torture began. At one point, Bulger asked his victim if he wanted a bullet to the head, to which McIntyre replied, “Yes, please”. He was then shot multiple times and his body later dumped on waste ground.

The gang has now scattered, Bulger himself is still on the run and is America’s second most wanted fugitive (after Osama Bin Laden) but some of its members have escaped prosecution by giving evidence. They have also made small fortunes turning their exploits as mobsters into books and screenplays.

But if Bulger and his deputy Stephen “the Rifleman” Flemmi were the feared enforcers on the streets of south Boston (Bulger was a “leg breaker, drug dealer, scumbag,” in the words of Eddie Mackenzie, one of his ex-accomplices) Connolly acted as a big brother figure.

Back in the 1980s, Special Agent Connolly was a towering giant in the FBI’s anti-Mafia unit. He had already spent two decades cultivating informants among New England’s mob bosses. As a young undercover agent he walked the streets of New York with the FBI agent Joseph Pistone, who documented his own undercover life in the book Donnie Brasco later made into a film with Johnny Depp.

Pistone however, is not there for Connolly in his current hour of need. As the sentencing hearing of the former FBI hero got under way, Pistone refused to take the stand because the judge refused his request to testify anonymously.

The US courts recently concluded that, in the name of catching ever-bigger Mafia fish, FBI agents were encouraged to let Irish-American gangsters rivals of the mafia, run amok. The policy led to serious breakthroughs against the Mafia but also countless murders and the ill-fated shipment of guns to the IRA. But former FBI agents have also testified on Connolly’s behalf and there is even a sophisticated website proclaiming his innocence. When he showed up to be sentenced for his role in facilitating yet another gruesome murder by James “Whitey” Bulger this week, he wept tears for the family of the victim John Callahan. The bullet-ridden body of Callahan was found in the boot of a Cadillac parked at Miami International Airport in 1982. “It’s heart-breaking to hear what happened to your father and your husband,” Connolly told the family.

In an emotional prison interview with The Boston Globe this week, Connolly still proclaimed his innocence. “I never sold my badge. I never took anybody’s money. I never caused anybody to be hurt, at least not knowingly, and I never would.”

As a member of the elite anti-Mafia squad for more than 20 years, Connolly’s speciality was cultivating informants against New England’s mobsters. His accomplishments led to the FBI’s Boston office being lionised. Connolly himself became a near legendary figure for his role in a secretly recorded Mafia initiation ceremony complete with blood oaths and prayers and the incineration of an image of the Virgin Mary in the palms of newly made members. He was the first outsider to penetrate the Mob’s holy of holies and his coup led to numerous prosecutions of leading members. But somewhere along the way he began taking shortcuts. With the full knowledge and approval of his FBI bosses he started offering protection to members of the Winter Hill Gang in return for leads.

The FBI adamantly denies turning a deliberate blind eye to years of bloody mayhem, murder and gunrunning and maintains that Connolly was merely a rogue agent. But, two months ago, a federal judge slapped the Bureau down and ordered it to pay £1.8m compensation to the 80-year old mother of the murdered John McIntyre.

A damning verdict stated: “The (FBI’s) attitude at least reflects a judgement that Connolly’s at-the-edge conduct could be tolerated for the greater good of bringing down La Cosa Nostra.”

The FBI’s successes against the Mafia were matched by its failures against Whitey Bulger’s gang. When the Feds finally got around to arresting him in 1995, he was tipped off by a phone call from Connolly. Bulger now has a price of more than $1m on his head, his face on posters in every airport in America, but the likelihood seems that the 71-year-old is lying low in a west of Ireland village.

It now seems that Connolly actually became a member of Bulger’s gang, a well-paid partner in crime, very early in their relationship in the late 1970s. He was full-time member of the Irish Goodfellas. It all started back in south Boston (or Southie) a landing pad for generations of working class Irish immigrants. It is a tightly knit place of hard working construction workers and armchair Irish republicans where at the height of Northern Ireland’s troubles every bar seemed to have a collection box for IRA “prisoners of war.”

Connolly and Bulger grew up in the same block of public housing in the 1940s where the few career options included becoming a cop on the beat, a fireman or a mobster. In his 25-year reign as head of the Winter Hill Gang, Bulger committed as many as 90 murders.

He had other high-powered connections, however. Billy Bulger, his younger brother was for years the head of the Massachusetts state Senate before becoming president of the University of Massachusetts from which he was recently forced to retire. Billy was also a childhood friend and a mentor to Connolly, creating a tangled knot of alliances that went all the way from the Massachusetts state house to the FBI and an untold number of back street torture and murder scenes to which Connolly routinely turned a blind eye.

Connolly was well rewarded of course. “We’re taking real good care of that guy,” Bulger once said of Connolly. For protecting extortion rackets the agent was reportedly lavished with thousands of dollars and diamond rings in bribes.

When the FBI’s internal affairs unit finally turned Connolly over after Bulger’s disappearance, they found dozens of uncashed salary cheques and proof that he owned a fancy suburban house. There was also a holiday home among the jet setters of Cape Cod and a £30,000 fishing boat.

Connolly is now facing up to33 years in jail for the 1982 Callahan murder. But his FBI career is one the agency would prefer was forgotten by the public. It promises to haunt the US law enforcement agency for many years, however, as more victims come forward seeking compensation for murders that took place while Connolly and other FBI agents deliberately looked the other way.

Economic bailout could cost taxpayers $8.5 trillion

Heavy spending to battle the financial crisis is unlikely to abate soon. Analysts say next year’s deficit could top $1 trillion.

LA Times | Nov 30, 2008

By Jim Puzzanghera

Reporting from Washington — With its decision last week to pump an additional $1 trillion into the financial crisis, the government eliminated any doubt that the nation is on a wartime footing in the battle to shore up the economy. The strategy now — and in the coming Obama administration — is essentially the win-at-any-cost approach previously adopted only to wage a major war.

And that means no hesitation in pledging to spend previously almost unimaginable sums of money and running up federal budget deficits on a scale not seen since World War II.

Indeed, analysts warn that the nation’s next financial crisis could come from the staggering cost of battling the current one.

Just last week, new initiatives added $600 billion to lower mortgage rates, $200 billion to stimulate consumer loans and nearly $300 billion to steady Citigroup, the banking conglomerate. That pushed the potential long-term cost of the government’s varied economic rescue initiatives, including direct loans and loan guarantees, to an estimated total of $8.5 trillion — half of the entire economic output of the U.S. this year.

Nor has the cash register stopped ringing. President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are expected to enact a stimulus package of $500 billion to $700 billion soon after he takes office in January.

The spending already has had a dramatic effect on the federal budget deficit, which soared to a record $455 billion last year and began the 2009 fiscal year with an amazing $237-billion deficit for October alone. Analysts say next year’s budget deficit could easily bust the $1-trillion barrier.

“I didn’t think we’d see that for a long time,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “There’s a huge risk of another economic crisis, a debt crisis, once we get on the other side of this one.”

But the Bush administration and the economic team that Obama is rapidly assembling like a war Cabinet are vowing to spend whatever it takes to avoid a depression; they’ll worry about the effect later.

“I don’t think that there’s any way of denying the fact that my first priority and my first job is to get us on the path of economic recovery, to create 2.5 million jobs, to provide relief to middle-class families,” Obama told reporters last week.

“But as soon as the recovery is well underway, then we’ve got to set up a long-term plan to reduce the structural deficit and make sure that we’re not leaving a mountain of debt for the next generation.”

The mountain is already there, and rising faster than at any time since the 1940s, when the United States was fighting a global war.

Analysts say the current flood of red ink calls into question Obama’s ability to launch programs such as middle-class tax cuts and a healthcare overhaul. In 1993, a deficit only a third the size of next year’s projected $1 trillion prompted President Clinton to abandoned his campaign pledges of tax cuts.

Once the financial crisis eases, higher interest rates and soaring inflation will be risks. If they materialize, they could dramatically increase the government’s borrowing costs to meet its annual debt payments. For consumers, borrowing could become more expensive even as the price of everyday items rise, holding back economic growth.

“We could have a super sub-prime crisis associated with the meltdown of the federal government,” warned David Walker, president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and former head of the Government Accountability Office.

But even deficit hawks such as Walker acknowledge that the immediate crisis is priority No. 1. Just as with World War II, the government can worry about paying the bills once the enemy is defeated.

“You just throw everything you have at the problem to try to fix it as quickly as you can,” said David Stowell, a finance professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “We’re mortgaging our future to a certain extent, but we’re trying to do things that give us a future.”

Washington could wind up spending substantially less than the sum of the commitments. Though the total estimated cost of the government’s efforts adds up to $8.5 trillion, only about $3.2 trillion has been tapped, according to an analysis by Bloomberg.

And not all the money committed is direct spending. About $5.5 trillion in loan guarantees and other financial backing by the Federal Reserve is included in the total.

“The only way those commitments would become obligations would be if the economy completely collapsed, in which case it’s a whole new ballgame anyway,” said John Steele Gordon, a business and economic historian.

The government even stands to make money on some expenditures, such as the $330 billion it has used to buy equity in banks and other financial institutions through the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Full Story

New target for the anti-terror spies: Village paperboys – for not having the correct paperwork

j7923 / ClassicStock

Peddling terror? This traditional paperboy would never have heard of anti-terror spies

Most people would not regard a paperboy as a threat to national security

Daily Mail | Dec 6, 2008

By Dan Newling

They creep around in the dark spreading misery, rumour and secrets from inside Westminster.

Even so, paperboys and girls are hardly likely to pose a threat to national security.

One local council, however, thought it necessary to use swingeing anti-terror laws against them.

Cambridgeshire County Council used the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to spy on eight paperboys thought to be working without permits.

It sent undercover council officers to lurk outside a Spar in the village of Melbourn and take notes on the movements of the boys.

The evidence was used in a criminal prosecution of the shop’s owners for employing five of the boys without the correct documentation.

Cambridgeshire’s approach is just the latest example of local authorities using the RIPA for minor misdemeanours.

Such activities have been likened to those of the Stasi, the East German secret police.

A Cambridgeshire bylaw states that all paperboys must have a work permit issued by the council and signed by the child’s employer, headteacher and parents.

Working children must also be over 13 and cannot start work until after 7am.

This week Cambridge Magistrates’ Court was told that Dips Solanki, 42, and his wife Rashmi, 38, had failed to get the correct work permits for five paperboys.

Prosecutor Simon Reeve told the court that the couple ignored letters and visits from a child employment officer. He said that although eight applications for work permits had been sent to the children’s school, only three were signed.

He produced the surveillance to prove the boys had been working.

The Solankis were found guilty of failing to comply with the bylaw and now have a criminal record. They were given a six-month conditional discharge.

All the boys concerned were between 13 and 16. Other than not having the correct paperwork, they were working legally.

Yesterday, the couple insisted that there had simply been a paperwork mix-up. They denied that they had been warned by council officials  –  and said the authority was using a ‘hammer to crack a nut’.

Mrs Solanki said: ‘They should only do such things for a serious crime. We’re innocent people trying to make an honest living. It’s ridiculous and was a complete waste of everyone’s time.’

The action taken by Cambridgeshire County Council has been compared to that of the Stasi – the German secret police – as seen in the film The Lives Of Others, starring Ulrich Muhe

Andrew Lansley, Tory MP for South Cambridgeshire, agreed, saying: ‘These powers should only be used for the scope they were intended, which is to tackle serious crime and terrorism.’ But a Cambridgeshire Council spokesman said: ‘Delivering heavy bags early in the morning is potentially very hazardous.

‘We do not want to wait until someone has an accident before we start to uphold the law properly.’

The Act was introduced in 2000. As well as allowing spying in the interests of national security, it also allows state agencies such as councils, NHS trusts and the fire service to act secretly in the interests of ‘protecting public health’.
The council swoops

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act was supposed to grant only the police and security services the power to spy on emails and phone calls.

But it was extended to town halls, which have been taking advantage on a daily basis.

In the last financial year, 154 local authorities made 1,707 requests for communications data under RIPA.

They include Poole Council in Dorset, which spied on a family because it wrongly suspected the parents of abusing rules on school catchment areas.

Councils in Derby, Bolton, Gateshead and Hartlepool used covert techniques to deal with dog fouling, while Bolton spied on suspected litter louts.

Who really controls Thailand?


Darker rumours infer support within the powerful Thai monarchy, perhaps from Queen Sirikit, who has been notable for expressing sympathy for PAD members injured in clashes with the police. Her support for the movement, the speculation goes, is intended to counteract the influence that Mr Thaksin was said to have had over her son, the unpopular Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. (Getty Images)

The Times | Dec 3, 2008

Analysis: dark rumours around Thai monarchy and PAD victory

By Richard Lloyd Parry

On the face of it – and certainly to the quarter of a million tourists stranded for the past week in hotels and departure lounges – it seems a merciful resolution to an absurd situation. Last night, after the Thai Prime Minister was forced from power, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) announced that it was calling off its action.

The yellow-shirted activists will retreat from the halls of Suvarnabhumi airport, and the three-month occupation of Government House in central Bangkok by the PAD will also come to an end.

To assume that Thailand is now at peace would be a mistake, however.

The spectacle of the past week – in which the tourism and export industries of an entire country have been held to ransom by a few thousand middle-class zealots – demonstrates the alarming transformation that has come over Thailand in the past three years.

From one of the most stable nations in SouthEast Asia, it has become a place where effective democratic politics has almost ceased to function.

The key question is how such a mob, with a few light arms at best, was able to occupy a key strategic installation such as an airport so easily and for so long.

If foreign soldiers or terrorists, such as the ones who attacked Mumbai last week, had stormed Suvarnabhumi airport, there is little doubt that the Thai police and Army would have fought against them. It was not that they could not keep out the PAD, but that they chose not to.

And this raises the crucial question – who is really running Thailand?

Despite its name, the PAD favours a constitutional restriction of democracy to reduce the influence of rural voters. The majority of voters may reject the politics of the PAD, but its apparent immunity in the past week shows that it has backing from institutions powerful enough to intimidate the police and the Army.

Who might they be? The answers one hears, even from the best-informed Thais, are vague and hard to prove. No doubt many of the PAD supporters are genuine in their disgust at the now-exiled Thaksin Shinawatra and the adulation that he won among the rural poor – but this does not explain how they were able so blatantly to flout the law.

Sondhi Limthongkul, the chief leader of the movement, is a wealthy media mogul, but he alone could not have sustained the PAD for so long.

Darker rumours – and they are little more than that – infer support within the powerful Thai monarchy, perhaps from Queen Sirikit, who has been notable for expressing sympathy for PAD members injured in clashes with the police. Her support for the movement, the speculation goes, is intended to counteract the influence that Mr Thaksin was said to have had over her son, the unpopular Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.

All of this is difficult even to talk about in Thailand, where the crime of lèse-majesté – defaming the monarchy – is punishable with prison sentences. Whatever the truth behind the sinister PAD, it will continue to exert its influence long after the unhappy tourists have gone home.

Popular Jesuit self-help author named in a third sexual abuse lawsuit

Former Loyola Jesuit was professor, author and counselor

The Phoenix | Dec 4, 2008

Priest accused of sexual abuse

By Steven Kent

powell_john_j_sj_chiAs a Jesuit and a professor at Loyola University Chicago, the Rev. John Powell, S.J., built a reputation as a popular teacher and a best-selling religious author – and all of it was called into question again last month as he faced his third sexual abuse lawsuit since 2003.

The civil lawsuit, filed Nov. 6 by the plaintiff “Jane Doe 125,” who has chosen to remain anonymous to the public, claimed that Powell held “private counseling sessions” with her during a religious retreat in 1967. During these sessions, said the official complaint, he forced her to kiss him and required her to remove her school u-niform so that he could fondle her.

The lawsuit also named the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits, as a defendant on counts of negligence and fraud, and stated that the Jesuits knew about Powell’s pedophilic tendencies before the alleged incident and failed to act on that knowledge.

Powell, 83, now retired in Michigan, worked as a professor of theology at Loyola from 1965 until his retirement in 1996. During that time, he held spiritual retreats and wrote popular books such as Fully Human, Fully Alive, inspirational self-help manuals that blended pop psychology with Catholic theology and established him as “one of the best-selling spiritual authors of our time,” according to Publishers Weekly.

“This guy sells books about sexually intimate relationships, and the Jesuits make millions off of them, and it’s a fraud, a complete fraud,” said attorney Marc Pearlman, who represents the anonymous plaintiff for the law firm Kerns, Frost and Pearlman. “The guy was sexually abusing his students and people who came to him for counseling.”

He also, according to a number of accusers, used his position as a counselor and professor to abuse young girls. Throughout the years he was assigned to Loyola University, the lawsuit said, Powell held spiritual retreats that brought him into contact with minor children. It was during one of these retreats, held at Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach, Fla., that he sexually abused the plaintiff, according to the lawsuit. She was “approximately 16 or 17,” the suit said.

The lawsuit also claimed that Powell “engaged in a pattern and practice of sexually abusing Loyola University students.” In 2006, a former Loyola University student, Diane Ruhl, named the Chicago order of Jesuits as the defendant in a civil lawsuit along with three other women. The lawsuit, which is still pending, claimed that Powell sexually abused Ruhl during private counseling sessions while she attended Loyola and also said that both Jesuit leaders and Loyola administrators received reports of Powell’s alleged abuses and ignored them.

Powell has never been charged with a crime.

Pearlman, the attorney, represented four women in a 2003 sexual abuse lawsuit against Powell, which the defendant settled publicly in 2005. He said that he has dealt with a number of women who have come forward and claimed that Powell abused them, enough to convince him that there may have been dozens more.

“I really doubt the number is just six or seven or 13,” he said. “We had a client, her sister went to Loyola and he was abusing her 13-year-old sister. He used to frequent the house, and he’d tell her parents he was going to tuck her in and bless her and read her confession, and then he’d abuse her. A 13 year-old.”

Powell could not be reached for comment. A statement from the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus said he was in “extremely poor health, requiring 24-hour medical care and supervision.”

Pearlman also said that in his experience, the Jesuits displayed a record of covering up sex abuse within their ranks.

“The Jesuits have a history of being horrible on these types of issues,” he said. “They’ve had sex abusers in their ranks, they’ve known about them, they’ve covered it up, they’ve transferred them and ignored it, and Powell’s not the only example. I really think the way they approached this sex issue was to sweep it under the rug.”

Pearlman pointed to the case of the Rev. Donald McGuire, S.J., as an example. A public jury convicted McGuire in a 2006 criminal trial of sexually abusing two teenage boys in Chicago in the 1960s. Documents show that Chicago Jesuit leaders received alerts about McGuire’s behavior dozens of times during his career, according to multiple news sources.

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Accused Priests Who Worked in the Archdiocese of Chicago

BishopAccountability.org has examined the public record to identify Chicago priests who have been accused of sexually abusing minors. Our list of 85 priests is considerably longer than the list of 55 priests that Cardinal George (photo at left) released recently. We also provide extensive information on many priests, including full assignment records and links to additional information. We will be supplementing that information in the coming weeks and searching for other accused Chicago priests.

Creation of artificial life stirs fears of Huxley’s Brave New World


Dr. J. Craig Venter

Scientists get closer to creating artificial life: study

AFP | Dec 5, 2008

CHICAGO (AFP) — Scientists have discovered a more efficient way of building a synthetic genome that could one day enable them to create artificial life, according to a study.

The method is already being used to help develop next generation biofuels and biochemicals in the labs of controversial celebrity US scientist Craig Venter.

Venter has hailed artificial life forms as a potential remedy to illness and global warming, but the prospect is highly controversial and arouses heated debate over its potential ramifications and the ethics of engineering artificial life.

Artificially engineered life is one of the Holy Grails of science, but also stirs deep fears as foreseen in Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel “Brave New World” in which natural human reproduction is eschewed in favor of babies grown in laboratories.

The J. Craig Venter Institute succeeded in synthetically reproducing the DNA of a simple bacteria last year.

The researchers had initially used the bacteria e. coli to build the genome, but found it was a tedious, multi-stage process and that e. coli had difficulty reproducing large DNA segments.

They eventually tried using a type of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This enabled them to finish creating the synthetic genome using a method called homologous recombination, a process that cells naturally use to repair damage to their chromosomes.

They then began to explore the capacity for DNA assembly in yeast, which turned out to be a “genetic factory,” the Institute said in a statement Wednesday.

The researchers inserted relatively short segments of DNA fragments into yeast cells through homologous recombination method.

They found they were able to build the entire genome in one step, according to the study set to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We continue to be amazed by the capacity of yeast to simultaneously take up so many DNA pieces and assemble them into genome-size molecules,” said lead author Daniel Gibson.

“This capacity begs to be further explored and extended and will help accelerate progress in applications of synthetic genomics.”

Senior author Clyde Hutchison added, “I am astounded by our team’s progress in assembling large DNA molecules. It remains to be seen how far we can push this yeast assembly platform but the team is hard at work exploring these methods as we work to boot up the synthetic chromosome.”

Venter and his team continue to work towards creating a living bacterial cell using the synthetic genome sequence of the Mycoplasma genitalium bacteria.

The bacteria, which causes certain sexually transmitted diseases, has one of the least complex DNA structures of any life form, composed of just 580 genes.

In contrast, the human genome has some 30,000.

Using the genetic sequence of this bacteria, the Maryland-based team has created a chromosome known as Mycoplasma laboratorium.

They are working on developing a way to transplant this chromosome into a living cell and stimulate it to take control and effectively become a new life form.