Daily Archives: December 6, 2010

Getting Molested At The Airport

care2.com | Dec 1, 2010

by Delia Quigley

Recently I flew down to Florida for a visit and upon my return was confronted with the TSA choice of radiation exposure with scanner or a body search at the Tampa airport. I was reluctant to expose myself to unnecessary radiation, especially since just flying in an aircraft exposes you to small doses. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average American is exposed to 370 millirem per year. The most common culprits are: medical imaging, cigarettes, air travel, computers, television, and cell phones. When I was signaled to step into the scanner I politely asked for the body search instead and was asked to step across the line and wait for a TSA authority.

I was pointed towards a small square outlined with tape and thought to myself, how bad could this be? Last time I went through an airport and saw someone being searched the guard was waving a wand around the person’s body and the person was smiling. Once in Spain, late and running to catch my flight, I was stopped and searched by a female authority before being allowed on the plane. But that was a quick pat down the sides of my body and under my arms.

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This time, however, I looked up to see a hefty, blond gal pulling on rubber gloves as she walked towards me. Uh, oh, I realized too late, Dorothy is no longer in Kansas. Boy, was I right. Standing barefoot with feet spread wide my body was touched from head to toe, front to back, breasts, buttocks and inner thighs. This was in front of lines of people moving past. What the hell was this? I am either to be molested in public or zapped with radiation and there is nothing I can do about it but opt not to fly? This very statement may have erupted from my mouth in a moment of pique, to which the attendant replied, “Just wait until November 1st, honey, it gets worse.” What do you mean, worse than this? And with a rather rude upward thrusting gesture of her hand to  show what she meant, the conversations promptly ended.

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The TSA Hustle

Report calls for radical redesign of cities to cope with population growth


‘Planned-opolis’ – just one of four scenarios of future cities envisaged by Forum for the Future in its Megacities on the Move report

Megacities on the Move report says authorities must start planning their transport infrastructure now for a future when two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities

guardian.co.uk | Dec 2, 2010

Alok Jha, science correspondent

Megacities on the Move report says authorities must start planning their transport infrastructure now for a future when two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities

Moving away from car ownership, using real-time traffic information to help plan journeys and having more virtual meetings will be vital to prevent the megacities of the future from becoming dysfunctional and unpleasant places to live, according to a study by the environmental think tank Forum for the Future.

The report argues that authorities must begin to plan now in order to create easier and more sustainable ways of accessing goods and services in the world’s ever-growing cities. Citizens must also be encouraged to change their behaviour to keep cities liveable.

By 2040, the world’s urban population is expected to have grown from 3.5bn to 5.6bn. The new report calls for a radical re-engineering of cities’ infrastructure to cope. “The future is going to look pretty urban … with more and more people shifting to cities to the point that, by 2040, we’re going to have two thirds of all the people in the world living in cities,” said Ivana Gazibara, senior strategic adviser at Forum for the Future and an author of the report, Megacities on the Move.

“If we go on with business as usual, what happens is unmanageable levels of congestion because personal car ownership has proliferated,” she said. “Cities could be a pretty nasty place to live for the two-thirds of the global population in the next 30 years if we don’t act on things like climate change mitigation and adaptation, smarter use of resources and sorting out big systemic things like urban mobility.”

The report looked at transport, but not just moving from A to B. “It’s about accessibility and productivity and interaction,” said Gazibara. “Those are things you can do through physical interaction but you don’t have to..”

One issue is to integrate different modes of transport: citizens will want to walk, cycle, access public transport, drive personal vehicles or a mixture of all modes in one journey. “Information technology is going to be incredibly important in all of this, in terms of better integrating and connecting physical modes of transport,” said Gazibara. “But we’re also going to see lots more user-centred ICT [information and communication technology] so it makes it easier for us to access things virtually.”

She said there are already cars that have integrated hardware allowing them to communicate with each other and central traffic hubs. By collecting and centralising information of this kind, city authorities could manage traffic information in real time and help speed up people’s journeys. And better “telepresence” systems for virtual meetings could remove the need for some journeys altogether.

The trickiest part, though, could be getting citizens themselves to take part. “We have the technological solutions, whether it’s alternative drive-trains for vehicles or sophisticated IT – the real challenge will be scaling it in a meaningful way,” said Gazibara.

City planning will also be important, she said, creating self-contained neighbourhoods where everything is accessible by walking or cycling.

The report also highlights examples of good practice that are already in use. Vancouver, for example, has recognised that many of its inhabitants will use several modes of transport in one journey, so city planners have widened pedestrian crossings, built more cycle lanes and provided cycle racks on buses.

For the future, Gazibara pointed to innovative car-sharing schemes such as the CityCar concept, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with “stackable” electric cars lined up near transport hubs. These could be rented out for short journeys within city limits. They could also store power at night, when renewable sources might be generating electricity that would otherwise have to be dumped.

Friends of the Earth transport campaigner Richard Dyer agreed that action was needed now to make cities more sustainable. “Tackling climate change must be at the heart of building a greener, fairer future – and local people must have their say. New technologies will be part of the solution, but rising populations and the urgent need to cut carbon emissions mean that we also need policies that reduce the need to travel, cut car use and make walking and cycling the first choice for short journeys. Alongside green energy and better insulation for our homes, this will make our cities healthier, more pleasant and vibrant places to live – and will create new jobs too.”

Gazibara said city authorities needed to start taking the issues more seriously. “[There are] far too many places where cities that are acknowledging climate change as a threat continue to build more roads, continue to provide incentives to more car ownership and more driving. That’s something that will fundamentally need to change.”

Cancun climate conference: the warmists’ last Mexican wave

The global warming scare was fun while it lasted, but the joke’s over, says Christopher Booker.

Telegraph | Dec 4, 2010

By Christopher Booker

If, last week, frozen behind a snowdrift, you heard a faint hysterical squeaking, it might well have been the sound of those 20,000 delegates holed up behind a wall of armed security guards in the sun-drenched Mexican holiday resort of Cancun, telling each other that the world is more threatened by runaway global warming than ever. Between their tequilas and lavish meals paid for by the world’s taxpayers, they heard how, by 2060, global temperatures will have risen by 4 degrees Celsius; how the Maldives and Tuvalu are sinking below the waves faster than ever; how the survival of salmon is threatened by CO2-induced acidification of the oceans; how the UN must ban incandescent light bulbs throughout the world.

“Scientists”, we were told, are calling for everyone to be issued with a “carbon ration card”, to halt all Western economic growth for 20 years.

Meanwhile, Dr Rajendra Pachauri was telling us that we must spend hundreds of billions on covering the world’s oceans with iron filings, on building giant mirrors out in space and on painting all the world’s roofs white to keep out the heat from the sun.

The most obvious thing about all this ritualised scaremongering was how stale it all was. Not one of these points hasn’t been a cliche for years.The only scientist who believes we should all be issued with carbon ration cards is a Prof Kevin Anderson, who has been saying it since 2004. It is only those same old computer models that predict that Tuvalu and the Maldives are about to drown, when real measurements show the sea around them not to be rising at all. Far from the oceans acidifying, their pH currently ranges between 7.9 and 8.3, putting them very firmly on the alkaline side of the threshold, at 7.0.

The prediction that global temperatures will rise by four degrees in 50 years comes from that same UK Met Office computer which five weeks ago was telling us we were about to enjoy a “milder than average” winter, after three years when it has consistently got every one of its winter and summer forecasts hopelessly wrong. (And the reason why our local authorities are already fast running out of salt is that they were silly enough to believe them.)

When Vicky Pope, the Met Office’s Head of Climate Change Advice, wanted to fly out from Gatwick to Cancun to tell them that 2010 is the hottest year on record, she was trapped by inches of the same global warming that her £33 million computer had failed to predict.

As for all that “geo-engineering” make-believe which has been peddled for years, about giant mirrors and covering the sea with iron filings, it comes straight from Swift’s Academy of Lagado – as fanciful as the idea that we can save the planet by forcing everyone to use those miserable mercury-vapour “low-energy” light bulbs, or that we can pipe away all the carbon dioxide from power stations to store it in holes under the North Sea.

What we are seeing here is one of the greatest collective flights from reality in the history of the human race. As western Europe shivers to a halt and our energy bills soar through the roof, the time has come when we should all start to get seriously angry with our politicians for being carried away by all this claptrap.

Why, for instance, when our public debt is still rising by £3 billion a week, do we allow our Government to ring-fence £2.9 billion of our money to help the developing world to build useless wind turbines and solar panels?

Why do we tolerate a Parliament which blithely commits us to spending £18.3 billion every year for 40 years under the Climate Change Act, without having the faintest idea how we are going to keep our lights on?

The global warming scare may have been fun for the children while it lasted. But the time has come for the joke to be declared well and truly over.

Former Russian intelligence officer dismisses Putin’s claim that Russian spies do not engage in torture or kidnapping


Vladimir Putin during the interview recording with the CNN host Larry King in Moscow Photo: AFP

A former officer in Russia’s military intelligence service has refuted Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russian spies do not engage in torture or kidnapping, saying such methods are widespread.

Telegraph | Dec 3, 2010

By Andrew Osborn in Moscow

In an interview with CNN earlier this week the Russian prime minister, himself a former KGB spy, claimed that Russia’s spies were much more principled than their American counterparts and were not known to have been involved “in creating secret prisons, kidnappings or torture.”

Historian Boris Volodarsky, a UK-based veteran of Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, said however that Mr Putin’s comments were wide of the mark.

“Everyone knows about the methods that were and are used by the FSB security service and especially by the FSB’s Special Forces in the Caucasus republics (in southern Russia) and in Chechnya,” Mr Volodarsky told Radio Free Europe.

“It is very well known that people are kidnapped, tortured and killed with the direct participation of employees from Russia’s intelligence services.” Mr Volodarsky, who has written a book about the Kremlin’s secret assassination squads over the years, also questioned Mr Putin’s other central claim that the 10 Russian spies deported from America this summer did no damage to US interests.

He said the group, including glamorous agent Anna Chapman, would have had a range of tasks to fulfil including identifying new agents to recruit. Their main task however would have been to act as a go-between for agents in the field by passing information between them and diplomats in the Russian embassy, he added.

Mr Putin gave his interview to CNN in the same week as he and his country found themselves targeted in a series of leaked US diplomatic cables that portrayed Russia as a virtual “mafia state.”

Mr Putin rejected allegations that he had amassed a secret fortune through corruption in the Kremlin, or that he had probably known of the plot to murder Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

“These are mere insinuations, total nonsense, and it is very hard to imagine that diplomats are spreading this like tabloids,” Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin’s spokesman, told the Interfax news agency.

“If there are real diplomats behind these texts, it is frustrating and regretful that non-professionals are working in our country. One can only hope that eventually their professionalism will grow and they will stop using rumours as a basis for diplomatic correspondence.”

President Dmitry Medvedev, who would have read US descriptions of him as little more than Mr Putin’s sidekick or more specifically that he was “Robin to Putin’s batman”, made it clear on Friday that he too was annoyed but said the leaks would not derail rapidly warming ties between Washington and Moscow.

“We are not paranoid. We do not tie Russia-US relations to any leaks. But at the same time, these are indicative,” he said. “They show the entire extent of the cynicism of these evaluations.”

Now, because of the World Cup, Putin will think he really is God: Murdered Litvinenko’s widow speaks out


Happier times: Marina with her husband Alexander and son Anatoly, pictured in 2000

‘Putin thinks he can do anything. He thinks he is God to his people. Now, because of the World Cup, he will think it even more.’

Daily Mail | Dec 5, 2010

By Elizabeth Sanderson

Yesterday afternoon, Marina Litvinenko visited Highgate cemetery and laid a bunch of yellow roses on her husband’s grave. It would have been his 48th birthday.

‘I like to take yellow flowers,’ she says, smiling gently.

‘I liked yellow and so he used to buy them for me. I always say to him, “Now I have to bring them to you”.’

To Marina’s mind this does not just mean Lugovoi, but Putin too – or as she puts it: ‘The murderer and his mentor.’

Speaking in depth for the first time about the leaks, and the man she knew and loved as Sasha, Marina says: ‘It’s difficult to find the right word to explain how I feel.

Satisfaction?

No, that can only be achieved with justice through the courts.

‘But I was pleased for people to know Sasha was right. When he made his statement blaming Putin, everyone said he was very emotional and couldn’t know for sure.

‘Yet all this time we have asked how it could be possible for only one person to do this – to get polonium and bring it into the country. Only the state could do that.

‘Physically, it was Lugovoi who killed Sasha but Putin must have known. People in Russia believe it was a state- sponsored murder. In Russia, ordinary people don’t think they can change anything and the people at the top believe they can do anything they want.

‘Now they believe they can do that outside Russia as well.

‘But it is still shocking that my husband could be killed here in Britain in such a horrible way. By knife or by gun is awful, but Sasha was poisoned with radioactive
material. He had to die that slow, horrible death and be in that pain for days. I still find that unbelievable.

‘Lugovoi, personally, didn’t have a reason to murder Sasha but for Putin there were a few reasons.

‘It wasn’t only because of Sasha’s articles on corruption or because he escaped from Russia to become a British citizen or because of his ongoing investigations, but it was a combination of those things.

‘Sasha carried on doing what he did in a different territory. He was saying to Putin, “You can’t touch me.” It was a message from Putin, ‘‘I can.’’
‘Now that this ambassador says Putin knew, it might not change the situation but it can change the way people look at Russia.’

In further leaked U.S. diplomatic cables, Russia was described as a ‘virtual Mafia state’ by Spain’s national prosecutor, Jose Gonzalez, who has vigorously pursued Russian criminals operating in his country.

Marina says: ‘I know Sasha was working with him. He was helping him before he died.

‘My husband began fighting corruption a long time ago. In the FSB [the former KGB], he got evidence of corruption and put it all down on a detailed chart for Putin, who
was the new director.

‘Putin was very neutral and said thank you very much. Sasha knew he would not do anything about it so he gave his now-famous Press conference in Moscow in 1998.

‘He was nervous. He knew his colleagues would hate it and they did. They asked him how he could have done it but he said, “Because I don’t like being involved in this crime. One day people will hate you.”

‘That was 12 years ago and the things he talked about then are still being talked about now: the Mafia, the FSB, corruption, control. It’s the people who rule Russia who make it like this, like a monster.’

And Marina believes that the country’s successful bid to host the 2018 football World Cup – ahead of rivals including England – will only fuel Putin’s arrogance.

‘He thinks he can do anything and now, because of the World Cup, he will think it even more,’ she says.

‘He really believes he is God to his people and he will think, “Now they will adore me because I have brought this to them.”

‘On the one side, it is good for ordinary Russians to get a top-class tournament where they can watch big games. In England, fans can already always see a good match. But for Russia, this is not just about football, it is political. This is Putin saying, “We have won.”

‘He does not like to be challenged and Sasha challenged him; he is still challenging him now.’

As is Marina, in her own quiet but fearless way.
She and Litvinenko met at a mutual friend’s party when she was 31 and he was 30.

The daughter of factory workers Anatoly and Zinaida, she had grown up in Moscow, where she studied engineering before becoming a choreography teacher.

Litvinenko, from Voronezh in the Caucasus, was a successful colonel in the KGB. Both he and Marina were divorced and Litvinenko had a son and daughter. The following
year, 1994, the couple were married and their son Anatoly was born.

After Litvinenko’s 1998 Press conference when he accused his superiors of plotting the assassination of the oligarch Boris Berezovsky, he spent various spells in prison on trumped-up charges.

But two years later, he escaped to Turkey, joining Marina and Anatoly, who had already fled. The family then arrived in Britain via Italy and Spain and were granted asylum in 2001.

The couple enjoyed life in London, mixing with other Russian exiles such as Berezovsky. The Chechen dissident Akhmed Zakayev was also a close friend.
Anatoly settled well in school and his father, a keen Anglophile, was delighted he was learning English.

However, Marina admits that she knew little of her husband’s work.

The Russians have claimed Litvinenko was a spy, something she vehemently denies.

Nevertheless, intrigue and betrayal were an undeniable part of his life – and death. It is believed Lugovoi slipped the poison into a pot of tea when he and Litvinenko met at
the Millennium Hotel, Mayfair.

It took the authorities more than three weeks to identify the radioactive substance, meaning that Marina and Anatoly had both been significantly exposed and had to be
tested for polonium poisoning.

Marina says: ‘My first concern was for our son. I thought, this is not fair. But he was given the allclear, Sasha’s father was clear and my test was slightly up.

‘They said my chances of getting cancer were two per cent higher than average.

‘But a friend gave me a book by an Israeli scientist who was accidentally exposed to polonium.  Tests said he was clear but he died of cancer and, after a few years, so did two of his colleagues.

‘I don’t go to the doctors but I try to listen to my body all the time. It could be a time bomb, who knows?

‘The worst bit was the reaction of other people. No one knew whether to touch you or not, whether they could catch something. It was as though I had become a ghost that
frightened them.’

The family home in Muswell Hill, North London, was also sealed off for fear of contamination.

Marina says: ‘Once they realised Sasha had been poisoned they rushed us out of
there in 30 minutes. After that they didn’t know what to do with it.

‘When I went in I had to wear protective clothing. No one had been in there for about 45 days. It was awful. There were insects everywhere. The bananas were black and
covered in flies. It was like something out of a horror film.

‘It took me two years to get it back to normal and rented out. I couldn’t
go back there after that.’

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