Daily Archives: November 2, 2009

Berlusconi to remain prime minister of Italy even if convicted in two corruption trials

Silvio Berlusconi to stay on if convicted

Silvio Berlusconi will refuse to resign as prime minister of Italy even if he is convicted in two corruption trials due to begin later this month.

Telegraph | Nov 2, 2009

By Nick Squires in Rome

berlusconi-satan-handMr Berlusconi, 73, who is battling a series of sex scandals and legal entanglements as well as a dose of scarlet fever, said a conviction would only strengthen his resolve to lead.

Italian law allows for two exhaustive levels of appeal, during which time the defendant remains at liberty. The appeals could take years and might extend the cases until they “time out” under Italy’s complicated statute of limitations system.

The first trial, which involves tax fraud and false accounting allegations involving his television empire Mediaset is due to start on November 16.

The second, in which he is accused of paying £370,000 bribe to his British tax accountant David Mills, the estranged husband of Cabinet minister Tessa Jowell, will resume shortly afterwards, on Nov 27. The prime minister denies all the charges.

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“I still have confidence in the existence of serious magistrates who issue serious sentences, based on facts,” he said. “If there is a conviction at trial, we would be confronted with such a subversion of the truth that I would all the more feel the duty to resist (and stay) at my post to defend democracy and rule of law.”

Angelo Bonelli, an opposition MP, said the prime minister’s declaration sent “an unedifying message to the country”.

Both trials were frozen last year when Mr Berlusconi passed a law giving himself immunity from prosecution while in office.

His opponents said it was a brazen attempt to twist the law to serve his own ends. It was ruled unconstitutional by Italy’s highest court last month, a decision which prompted the prime minister to lash out at “communist” judges and magistrates who he claims are bent on destroying him.

The association of Italian magistrates denounced the attack as “groundless and ridiculous” and said it was considering calling a strike.

Bill Clinton unveils statue of himself in Kosovo

KOSOVO/

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks in front of his statue in the capital Pristina, November 1, 2009. Clinton is in Kosovo where he unveiled the statue on Clinton’s Boulevard.  Reuters

Thousands of ethnic Albanians braved low temperatures and a cold wind in Kosovo’s capital Pristina to watch Bill Clinton, the former US president, unveil a golden statue of himself on Sunday.

Telegraph | Nov 1, 2009

The 11-foot statue, dedicated to the US president to thank him for launching a Nato bombing campaign to halt the killing of ethnic Albanians by Serbian troops in 1999, sits on a boulevard also named for Mr Clinton.

“I am profoundly grateful that I had a chance to be a part of ending the horrible things that were happening to you 10 years ago, giving you a chance to build a better future for yourself,” Mr Clinton told the crowd.

“I never expected … anywhere someone will make such a big statue of me,” he said after the statue was unveiled.

He urged Kosovars to build a multi-ethnic country with the minority Serbs and other minorities and said the United States would always help Kosovo’s people.

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Kosovo declared independence from Serbia last year and was recognised by the United States and major European Union powers – a total of 62 countries worldwide – but not by its former ruler, Serbia, Russia or China.

Kosovo Albanians regard Mr Clinton, Tony Blair and Madeleine Albright, Mr Clinton’s Secretary of State, as their saviours and have even named babies after them.

“In 1996 everybody was saying that Clinton is a good man and he will help us and then my father named me after him,” said 13-year-old Klinton Krasniqi.

Around 10,000 Albanians were killed as Serb forces moved to wipe out an ethnic Albanian guerrilla force. Eight times that many were expelled to neighbouring Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro.

Poll: 18% of Swedes under 30 believe US govt behind 9/11 attacks, with another 31% doubting official story

Many young Swedes doubt al-Qaida 9/11 guilt

thelocal.se | Nov 1, 2009

Almost one in five Swedes aged under 30 think that George W Bush’s US government lay behind the attacks on September 11th 2001, according to a new survey by Novus Opinion.

The TV4 programme Kalla Fakta, which commissioned the survey, will on Sunday address the subject of the Truth Movement, an international group which espouses the conspiracy theory that the terror network al-Qaida was not behind the September 11th attacks.

The movement, also known as the “September 11th research community” argues that it was in fact the US government that staged the attacks, which claimed the lives of 3,000 people, in order to legitimize the war on terrorism.

The Novus poll indicates that a significant number of young Swedes are persuaded by the logic of the argument.

Of the 1,000 Swedes surveyed in an internet panel, 70 percent responded that al-Qaida were behind the attacks, while seven percent did not think so.

Among those under-30 only 58 percent believed responsibility lay with al-Qaida, while 15 percent did not.

When asked whether the US government orchestrated the attacks, eight percent supported the theory while 64 percent rejected it.

However among the under-30s there was once again more scepticism: 51 percent rejected the conspiracy theory while 18 percent believed that the US government, led at the time by President George W Bush, had a role in the attacks.

As many as 31 percent of the young people interviewed in the survey responded that they did not know what to believe.

Why boys are turning into girls

boys girls gender-bending chemicals

Girls will be girls and boys will be girls: everyday ‘gender-bending’ chemicals are feminising increasing numbers of babies Photo: Getty Creative

“Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible.”

– Bertrand Russell, “The Impact of Science on Society”, 1953

Gender-bending chemicals are largely exempt from new EU regulations, warns Geoffrey Lean.

Telegraph | Oct 23, 2009

Here’s something rather rotten from the State of Denmark. Its government yesterday unveiled official research showing that two-year-old children are at risk from a bewildering array of gender-bending chemicals in such everyday items as waterproof clothes, rubber boots, bed linen, food, nappies, sunscreen lotion and moisturising cream.

The 326-page report, published by the environment protection agency, is the latest piece in an increasingly alarming jigsaw. A picture is emerging of ubiquitous chemical contamination driving down sperm counts and feminising male children all over the developed world. And anti-pollution measures and regulations are falling far short of getting to grips with it.

Sperm counts are falling so fast that young men are less fertile than their fathers and produce only a third as much, proportionately, as hamsters. And gender-bending chemicals are increasingly being blamed for the mystery of the “lost boys”: babies who should normally be male who have been born as girls instead.

The Danish government set out to find out how much contamination from gender-bending chemicals a two-year-old child was exposed to every day. It concluded that a child could be “at critical risk” from just a few exposures to high levels of the substances, such as from rubber clogs, and imperilled by the amount it absorbed from sources ranging from food to sunscreens.

The Disappearing Male

The results build on earlier studies showing that British children have higher levels of gender-bending chemicals in their blood than their parents or grandparents. Indeed WWF (formerly the World Wildlife Fund), which commissioned the older research, warned that the chemicals were so widespread that “there is very little, if anything, individuals can do to prevent contamination of themselves and their families.” Prominent among them are dioxins, PVC, flame retardants, phthalates (extensively used to soften plastics) and the now largely banned PCBs, one and a half million tons of which were used in countless products from paints to electrical equipment.

Young boys, like those in the Danish study, could end up producing less sperm and developing feminised behaviour. Research at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University found that boys whose mothers were exposed to PCBs and dioxins were more likely to play with dolls and tea sets and dress up in female clothes.

And it is in the womb that babies are most vulnerable; a study of umbilical cords from British mothers found that every one contained hazardous chemicals. Scientists at the University of Rochester in New York discovered that boys born to women exposed to phthalates had smaller penises and other feminisation of the genitals.

The contamination may also offer a clue to a mysterious shift in the sex of babies. Normally 106 boys are born for every 100 girls: it is thought to be nature’s way of making up for the fact that men were more likely to be killed hunting or in conflict. But the proportion of females is rising, so much so that some 250,000 babies who statistically should have been boys have ended up as girls in Japan and the United States alone. In Britain, the discrepancy amounts to thousands of babies a year.

A Canadian Indian community living on ancestral lands at the eastern tip of Lake Huron, hemmed in by one of the biggest agglomerations of chemical factories on earth, gives birth to twice as many girls as boys. It’s the same around Seveso in Italy, contaminated with dioxins from a notorious accident in the 1970s, and among Russian pesticide workers. And there’s more evidence from places as far apart as Israel and Taiwan, Brazil and the Arctic.

Yet gender-benders are largely exempt from new EU regulations controlling hazardous chemicals. Britain, then under Tony Blair’s premiership, was largely responsible for this – restricting their inclusion in the first draft of the legislation, and then causing even what was included to be watered down.Confidential documents show that it did so after pressure from George W Bush’s administration, which protested that US exports “could be impacted”.

Now the Danish government is planning to lobby to have the rules toughened up. It is particularly concerned by other studies which show that gender-bending chemicals acting together have far worse effects than the expected sum of their individual impacts. It wants this to be reflected in the regulations, citing its discovery of the many sources to which the two-year-olds are exposed – modern slings and arrows, as it were, of outrageous fortune.

Rich ‘may evolve into separate species’

Terminator Salvation

The rich could all be cyborgs in the future.

“Gradually, by selective breeding, the congenital differences between rulers and ruled will increase until they become almost different species. A revolt of the plebs would become as unthinkable as an organized insurrection of sheep against the practice of eating mutton.”

– Bertrand Russell, “The Impact of Science on Society”, 1953

The super-rich may evolve into a separate species entirely in the future due to enhancements in biotechnology and robotic engineering, American futurologist Paul Saffo has said.

Telegraph | Oct 25, 2009

By Amy Willis

Mr Saffo, from San Francisco, says in the future people will be able to grow their own replacement organs, take specially tailored drugs, and use genetic research tools to alert them from any possible hereditary health dangers.

He adds that tomorrow’s world will be a fusion of biology and technology, where robots do the chores, cars drive themselves and artificial limbs are better than real ones.

Mr Saffo’s comments reflect claims by American scientist Ray Kurzweil who only a few months ago said immortality was only 20 years away due to the speed of advancements in nanotechnology.

But Mr Saffo says these improvements would only be affordable to the super-rich. And because of this, he says, advancements may lead to a divide between the classes and eventually could lead to the super-rich evolving into a different species entirely, leaving his not-so-rich counterpart behind.

“In the 1980s it was the personal computer – came out of the garage, changed the world. In the 1990s it was the web. The next big device to wander into our lives is robots,” he told the Sunday Times.

“We may find we are absolutely dependent upon these electronic insects and that we don’t even know we are dependent upon them until something breaks.

“I sometimes wonder if the very rich can live, on average, 20 years longer than the poor. That’s 20 more years of earning and saving. Think about wealth and power and the advantages that you pass on to your children.”

Experts: Swine flu may spark martial law

Swine Flu May Choke Civil Rights, Profs Say

somd.com | Oct 28, 2009

By DAVID M. JOHNSON

WASHINGTON (Oct. 28, 2009) — Quarantine, forced vaccination, and martial law are just a few of the options available to Gov. Martin O’Malley should the H1N1 virus spread uncontrollably, according to professors who talked Wednesday about the civil rights problems an outbreak could create.

Michael Greenberger and Dr. Marita Mike from the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security and Wendy Mariner from Boston University’s School of Public Health discussed the legal and constitutional implications of the government’s response to a potential H1N1 pandemic at the National Press Club.

“The Maryland governor has the power to compel people to take medical measures; he could compel medical vaccinations; he can quarantine; he can isolate; he can seize medications…he can condemn or reorient how hospitals give treatment; he can shelter people in place; he can move them out of the city,” Greenberger said. “He has the power to overturn any law that interferes with his ability to respond to the catastrophe.”

Disease prevention laws in many states shifted from public health to national security and emergency preparedness after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In Maryland, the statute was passed almost overnight, according to Greenberger.

Epidemics are similar to terrorist attacks in that they have the potential to strike at any time, so laws that dictate government responses to these emergencies should be scrutinized, said Mariner.

“It is especially important to look at what laws bar so we don’t undermine fundamental human rights,” Mariner said. “Laws that suspend civil rights during epidemics become laws that suspend constitutional rights in our daily lives, perhaps indefinitely.”

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“Just get yer damn vaccine!”

So far, no public health emergency law has been challenged in Maryland court because no governor has had to use one.

“When you look at the statute books state to state, while they aren’t well defined, the power they give to governors and local executives are truly extraordinary,” Greenberger said. “The issues I’ve outlined are the issues lawyers and those that care about the application of law in this area will have to be thinking about very carefully.”

According to the panel, H1N1’s impact would have to get worse before any governor would think about drastic measures, but such a scenario could be imagined.

“This thing attacks the lungs,” Greenberger said. “Ventilators cost $35,000; we have a very limited supply of ventilators. You can just imagine having someone you care about and knowing that if they can get on a ventilator, they’ll live.”

Lack of ventilators, vaccine or anti-virals in any state could force governors or other executives to turn to these laws.

In New York, the state health commissioner recently ordered all state health care workers to get the H1N1 vaccine. Last week, after facing a lawsuit, the state suspended the mandatory requirement saying limited supplies should be used for those most at risk for serious illness.

“Nurses who were perfectly willing to get vaccines voluntarily, got their backs up and began to resist when they were told it was necessary,” Mariner said about the New York situation. “The danger can be illustrated by the old axiom, if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. If the only tools you have are quarantine and isolation then what happens when you need more vaccine? You can’t force people to get a vaccine you don’t have.”

Report: WHO to Announce Cell Phone, Brain Tumor Link

AP | Oct 26, 2009

A groundbreaking, $30 million study into cell phones has found a link between long term use and brain tumors.

The World Health Organization is about to reveal that its decade-long investigation has found the devices can lead to cancer — and the internationally-respected body will soon issue a public health message with its findings, London’s Daily Telegraph reported today.

The conclusion goes against years of assurances by cell phone companies and scientists that cell phone use is safe.

But last month, Sen. Arlen Specter, D- Pa., organized Senate hearings to examine health implications of talking on-the-go.

The WHO’s Interphone investigation’s results showed, “a significantly increased risk” of some brain tumors “related to use of mobile phones for a period of ten years or more,” the Telegraph reported.

The study’s head, Dr. Elisabeth Cardis, said, “In the absence of definitive results and in the light of a number of studies which, though limited, suggest a possible effect of radiofrequency radiation, precautions are important.”